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Jim Hightower
Jim Hightower
17 Dec 2014
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The 1 Percent's Cry for Justice

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It's out! This year's list of American success stories has just been published, and according to its compiler, it "instills confidence that the American dream is still very much alive."

Maybe you are one of these success stories. You might be a great public school teacher, for example, who motivated students to achieve new heights or an inventor who came up with an energy-saving device and got it to market at a fair price, generating a profit for yourself, the environment and society generally.

No, no, no. Not that kind of success. We're talking money — the flow of mammon beyond regular people's wildest dreams. That's how Forbes magazine measures not only "success," but also a person's value: You are what's in your Swiss bank account. And, just to rank last on this year's "Forbes 400" listing of America's wealthiest people, you need more than a billion dollars in financial wealth. To get into the top 10 requires at least $25 billion. And to be numero uno means you've got $66 billion socked away. Who says America is broke?

As Ray Charles sang, "Them that's got is them that gets." And sure enough, these richest of the riches got a lot richer in 2011 — the magazine gloated that these 400 swells jacked up their cumulative haul last year by $200 billion over the previous year — an average of half-a-billion each!

Now that's success, baby, especially when the typical American family's income dropped by 4 percent.

These ultra-wealthy, goes the Forbes narrative, are the "deserving rich," for they are our economy's makers and producers — as opposed to being takers and moochers, like those commoners who get Social Security, Medicare and other government help.

Before swallowing that, however, note that roughly 40 percent of these "achievers" on the list "achieved" their wealth by being well-born — they inherited the money from Dad and Mom. And all of them have indeed been takers, not only enjoying government programs, but also subsidies and tax advantages available only to the rich.

The Forbes list really says that you got special treatment — not that you are special.

But if the rich need to feel special, they can always count on the editors of Fortune. We should not be surprised that a magazine named Fortune would be empathetic to the feelings of the 1 percent, but — good grief — how embarrassingly sycophantish of the editors to hustle out a piece just before the presidential election titled, "Stop Beating up the Rich."

Written by Nina Easton, the timing of the article was less than fortunate, for it came out just as the infamous video surfaced showing Mitt Romney "beating up" the poor and the middle class, while his audience of fellow multimillionaires laughed, cheered and shouted encouragement.

Despite the timing, Mitt and company undoubtedly appreciated the writer's disdain for those who so insolently dare to criticize and even demonize those worthy ones at the top who, as she explained, "gained their wealth through their own efforts."

Also, you can almost hear the privileged ones applauding appreciatively as she scorns the divide between the 1 percent and the rest of us as a "flawed prism, marred by hyperbole, half-truths and unnecessary pessimism about what it means to succeed in America."

Passionately deploring "diatribes against the 1 percent," Easton assails critics of America's widening wealth inequality as being people who want "to raid the gold pot." On behalf of the pampered rich, she issues her own emotional "grito," wailing that critics must "stop the name-calling."

Does Easton propose any specific remedies for narrowing the wealth gap? You betcha, and it just happens to be one that's a favorite of Mitt and the multimillionaire's club — one that they prescribe for any and all of our nation's economic woes: "corporate tax reform," by which they mean lowering the corporate tax rate. Yeah, three decades of that trickle-down idea has worked so well for the middle-class and the poor, let's give 'em another jolt of it.

It's unclear why Fortune felt the need to print this piece of fluff or why Easton got the assignment, but her credit line does mention that her husband "is senior strategist for the Romney campaign." Curious, huh?

To find out more about Jim Hightower, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2012 CREATORS.COM



Comments

3 Comments | Post Comment
Sir;... Thems thats got is them that gets??? Clearly; it too often, it is sight that blinds... There are times when I feel some envy... I think when I have problems that it would be so much easier if I had money, but if you gave me a billion I would still be me, and still struggle with the problems that have confronted me my entire life... It is hard to get away from yourself... It is hard to get away from the Queen's advice that to get anywhere you have to run twice as fast...People who have suffered poverty recognize it as a disease that only wealth can cure, but that particular sort of madness that drives people ever forward in the quest for wealth is not a cause for envy, but of pity...
Every new millionaire makes that many more people with less money, and more hardship... Every quest for personal security leaves that many more people with their futures uncertain... The madness that makes millionaires legal, makes outlaws who know no law, but only coercion...Why does Batman with his wealth, technology and health never consider the extent to which his wealth is connected to the poverty and lawlessness of the masses???
Want and ignorance are twins... Poverty and wealth are conjoined, but not at the hip, or back, or head... Wealth is joined with poverty thigh to back, and the one rides the other until the other takes both off a cliff...Why should anyone tolerate poverty to have morality???... Let us all be rich, do what ever is necessary, use who ever is available, and trash humanity and resources without restraint...Most people cannot see so plainly as the blind... Most people do not realize that it is not poverty the wealthy must escape, but themselves, and that sick feeling they have had inside when they realized once that they were despised for their want... And it is true that you cannot point to the poor as paragons of morality...It is out of the immoral masses that the immoral wealthy grow, and in turn, the wealthy feed the immorality of the world...It is not enough to say that the poor are poor only because they refuse to throw their own children and parents to the dogs, that they will not abandon humanity for a green back dollar... Most of us have never had the chance to do just that...
Morality has to be more than humanity's default setting...We all need to find our morality and cling to our morality, and know that when we dispossess the wealthy of our wealth that we are not doing so to be individually wealthy, but only to know the meaning of enough for once in our lives as rich and poor can never know... I have enough of worries and of pain... I have enough of money and time... I have enough of love to keep me going and enough of freedom to give me hope... What else does any man need to be as happy as a pig in shit???
Sir;... Far from the rich as I am, and as destructive as I know they are of society, it is time to stop beating them up, and it is time to meet them with a unified wall of pity... In the rich you see a people who universally deny themselves pity, and if they cannot feel it for themselves, for their human condition they will never feel it for you in your poverty, pain and humanity...No person who ever struggled out of poverty with hard work ever had time for self pity, but that is no reason for us to deny them what they out of a particular madness denied to themselves...
No person with any amount of understanding can look upon humanity with any other emotion but pity... No one can kick humanity without feeling the pain... No one can exploit humanity without feeling exploited... It is a terrible fact that that so much of the good a person does only falls at their feet and the injury they do goes on and on and on...Sight leads to knowledge and knowledge to understanding and understanding to pity... It is enough to make one envy the blind...
Thanks...Sweeney
Comment: #1
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Wed Oct 10, 2012 5:02 AM
Mr Hightower,

The interesting thing about your argument is that there are no specifics, just hyperbole. How much should the top tax rate be??? Obama, for now, says 45%. The interesting thing about him is that he only paid a 16.7% effective tax rate on $720,000. Hmmm. Seems to me that he owes the government roughly another $200,000, based on his own target tax rate. If that is the case, why didn't he pay the tax? It's always great to have the class warfare discussion, as long as it does not affect you, just the preverbal "rich."

Second, how much should the tax rate be? Many democrats are talking about 1953, when tax rates were 92% for the wealthy. Given your obvious ideology of "no matter how much the rich pay, they don't pay enough," is 92% enough? Should it be 99%? Should we expropriate 100% plus most of their assets?

Obama refers to Romney's plans as moving America backwards, failed former policies. Is Obama's class warfare act new? Let's see, Lenin had the same argument in 1917. Castro spewed forth the same argument in the 1950's. How is Obama's plan going to "move America forward." Perhaps we should have a conversation with the Russians and Cubans to see how well the blueprint works.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Mike Hermens
Wed Oct 10, 2012 8:58 PM
Re: Mike Hermens. What an ignorant idiot you are, Hermans. I don't think you know a stitch of relevant history. There were plenty of folks in Lenin's time who believed in a system that gave everyone a chance. Their motives may have been more than kindness--they wanted to prevent revolution.

Lenin's Bolsheviks wiped them all out. He was anyone but a person who wanted to rise to power through the democratic election process.

Take a lesson from that. You hoard too much, refuse to share your lock on wealth, and the folks who don't have will take you down. We're seeing that in the Arab middle east. Want that to happen here?

If you don't, think about how a civilized society can afford everyone, even a dolt like you, the opportunity to participate fully in the American dream. Obama is a rags to riches example of that. I'm sure you cream in your jeans over Romney, but he exemplifies nothing more than a rich kid born on third base who hit a triple.

I'm sure you want to go after those welfare cheats. Of course you do.

But think about this: Why should a kid born into a wealthy family get the best welfare the planet has to offer, while a kid in the ghetto gets to grow up on drugs and potato chips? It's about God's will isn't it. Those born into wealth are smiled upon by Him, but those born at the other end of the scale are just Sh&t out of luck.

No person who purports to be a leader can avoid stepping up to that. And it's not just about stimulating the economy. If we think we are human, it's about much more than that.

Comment: #3
Posted by: Masako
Sat Oct 13, 2012 8:16 PM
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