In a new Pew poll, more than three quarters of self-described conservatives believe “poor people have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything.”
In reality, most of America’s poor work hard, often in two or more jobs.
The real non-workers are the wealthy who inherit their fortunes. And their ranks are growing.
In fact, we’re on the cusp of the largest inter-generational wealth transfer in history.
The wealth is coming from those who over the last three decades earned huge amounts on Wall Street, in corporate boardrooms, or as high-tech entrepreneurs.
It’s going to their children, who did nothing except be born into the right family.
The “self-made” man or woman, the symbol of American meritocracy, is disappearing. Six of today’s ten wealthiest Americans are heirs to prominent fortunes. Just six Walmart heirs have more wealth than the bottom 42 percent of Americans combined (up from 30 percent in 2007).
The U.S. Trust bank just released a poll of Americans with more than $3 million of investable assets.
Nearly three-quarters of those over age 69, and 61 per cent of boomers (between the ages of 50 and 68), were the first in their generation to accumulate significant wealth.
But the bank found inherited wealth far more common among rich millennials under age 35.
This is the dynastic form of wealth French economist Thomas Piketty warns about. It’s been the major source of wealth in Europe for centuries. It’s about to become the major source in America – unless, that is, we do something about it.
As income from work has become more concentrated in America, the super rich have invested in businesses, real estate, art, and other assets. The income from these assets is now concentrating even faster than income from work.
In 1979, the richest 1 percent of households accounted for 17 percent of business income. By 2007 they were getting 43 percent. They were also taking in 75 percent of capital gains. Today, with the stock market significantly higher than where it was before the crash, the top is raking even more from their investments.
Both political parties have encouraged this great wealth transfer, as beneficiaries provide a growing share of campaign contributions.
But Republicans have been even more ardent than Democrats.
For example, family trusts used to be limited to about 90 years. Legal changes implemented under Ronald Reagan extended them in perpetuity. So-called “dynasty trusts” now allow super-rich families to pass on to their heirs money and property largely free from taxes, and to do so for generations.
George W. Bush’s biggest tax breaks helped high earners but they provided even more help to people living off accumulated wealth. While the top tax rate on income from work dropped from 39.6% to 35 percent, the top rate on dividends went from 39.6% (taxed as ordinary income) to 15 percent, and the estate tax was completely eliminated. (Conservatives called it the “death tax” even though it only applied to the richest two-tenths of one percent.)
Barack Obama rolled back some of these cuts, but many remain.
Before George W. Bush, the estate tax kicked in at $2 million of assets per couple, and then applied a 55 percent rate. Now it kicks in at $10 million per couple, with a 40 percent rate.
House Republicans want to go even further than Bush did.
Rep. Paul Ryan’s “road map,” which continues to be the bible of Republican economic policy, eliminates all taxes on interest, dividends, capital gains, and estates.
Yet the specter of an entire generation who do nothing for their money other than speed-dial their wealth management advisors isn’t particularly attractive.
It’s also dangerous to our democracy, as dynastic wealth inevitably accumulates political influence.
What to do? First, restore the estate tax in full.
Second, eliminate the “stepped-up-basis on death” rule. This obscure tax provision allows heirs to avoid paying capital gains taxes on the increased value of assets accumulated during the life of the deceased. Such untaxed gains account for more than half of the value of estates worth more than $100 million, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Third, institute a wealth tax. We already have an annual wealth tax on homes, the major asset of the middle class. It’s called the property tax. Why not a small annual tax on the value of stocks and bonds, the major assets of the wealthy?
We don’t have to sit by and watch our meritocracy be replaced by a permanent aristocracy, and our democracy be undermined by dynastic wealth. We can and must take action — before it’s too late.
alright you guys have posted some pretty bad jokes on here but not one comes close to this doozy
so there’s a far-off place that consists of a perfectly triangular lake surrounded by land, with three kingdoms on the three sides of the lake. the first kingdom is rich and powerful, filled with wealthy, prosperous people. the second kingdom is more humble, but has its fair share of wealth and power, too. the third kingdom is struggling and poor, and barely has an army.
the kingdoms eventually go to war over control of the lake, as it’s a valuable resource to have. the first kingdom sends 100 of their finest knights, clad in the best armor and each with their own personal squire. the second kingdom sends 50 of their knights, with fine leather armor and a few dozen squires of their own. the third kingdom sends their one and only knight, an elderly warrior who has long since passed his prime, with his own personal squire.
the night before the big battle, the knights in the first kingdom drink and make merry, partying into the late hours of the night. the knights in the second kingdom aren’t as well off, but have their own supply of grog and also drink late into the night.
in the third camp, the faithful squire gets a rope and slings it over the branch of a tall tree, making a noose, and hangs a pot from it. he fills the pot with stew and has a humble dinner with the old knight.
the next morning, the knights in the first two kingdoms are hung over and unable to fight, while the knight in the third kingdom is old and weary, unable to get up. in place of the knights, the squires from all three kingdoms go and fight. the battle lasts long into the night, but by the time the dust settled, only one squire was left standing - the squire from the third kingdom.
and it just goes to show you that the squire of the high pot and noose is equal to the sum of the squires of the other two sides
not-actually-that-cool tagged me in the question thingy (I’m always OK with being tagged in these, even though I don’t tag other people because I get sad when they don’t do it, plus I stink at coming up with good questions).
1. What is your favorite day of the week? I honestly usually can’t tell one from the other. I generally prefer weekdays to weekends, though, because Match Game ‘76 comes on at 5am on weekdays.
2. Do you like your mother? Most of the time she’s pretty groovy.
4. How do you feel about garden gnomes? I doubt I’d ever buy any, but I’m not bothered by them unless they’re telling me to go and smell the roses.
5. Are you ready to be a grown up yet? Not in the slightest. I’m ill-prepared in just about every way possible.
6. How many hours of sleep do you get in a night? It probably averages out to 7-8 per night — as long as you count the times when I stay up for 2 to 2½ days followed by 16-18 hours of sleep. If I sleep on consecutive days, I’m lucky to get 6 hours.
7. Why are you even on tumblr? If it weren’t for tumblr, I’d have no friends at all.
8. How is your room decorated? Above my bed, I’ve got two animation cels from Who Framed Roger Rabbit in a single frame — a before and after set from when he drinks the whiskey and goes all Technicolor.
On the opposite wall are the mini attraction posters that came in the 2014 calendar I bought at Disneyland last year. And over my window is a big dark blue bedsheet to keep out the light that bleeds in through the weird opaque cloth blinds this house has so I can sleep during the day.
9. What is the favorite vacation you ever went on? I think I’ve got to pick my first trip to Walt Disney World in 1999. It was a bucket list item, and my first time really understanding the difference in scale. Even though I stayed off-property and had to sit through time share presentations every morning to board the hotel bus to the parks, it was a totally new experience and I absolutely fell in love with the place (but in a totally different way from the way I love Disneyland).
10. Do you have a favorite sport? I’ve always been a baseball fan above all else.
11. What is your favorite memory? The day I got hired at Disneyland in 1994. I was so giddy with excitement! It was another bucket list item, and one that ended far too soon. But the amazement that I felt at the time is something I’ll never forget.
So many MRA tears being shed on the untrue-posts blog tonight via replies, reblogs, and asks, and it’s taking every bit of strength that I have not to engage any more of them. I need to not give them that platform and that extra exposure, even if I’m only giving it to them to argue against them.
It would be funny to watch all the guys who got offended by the idea of equality if it wasn’t so damned pathetic.
I did get a kick out of the brony who wanted me to bust the patriarchy as bogus and if I couldn’t then I wasn’t worthy of running my own blog, but…
I dunno…that sure seems to be what I see when I look around.
I think I’m going to log off early tonight. My b.s. meter is full.