Mo’ money, no problems

“Shaq is rich. But the man who writes his checks is wealthy!”
— Chris Rock

In light of the NBA lockout, I am reminded of Chris Rock’s quote and how the gap between the wealthy and the rest of us has grown larger than the empty space between Mike “The Situation’s” ears.

Notable economist and UC-Berkley professor Emmanuel Saez showed in a recent study that 90 percent of Americans make an average of $31,244 a year while the top 1 percent make over $1.1 million. That is a huge disparity in income.

What is even more discouraging is the report by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office that shows since 1979, 99 percent of Americans’ income grew only 1.3 percent. As a result, the top 1 percent controlled two-thirds of the countries economic growth.

So when I hear conservatives go on about “class warfare” and the supposedly attack on the wealthy at the mere mention of raising taxes on the top 1 percent to increase revenue, I scream out to high heaven.

First of all, taxes would only be raised back to the level they were during the President Clinton era, before the Bush tax cuts.

Secondly, it’s not class warfare if the top percent of earners are asked to pay their fair share.

Conservatives and Republicans like to protest that raising taxes on the top tax bracket — people who earn $250,000 year — would hurt small business owners who provide so many jobs in this country.

The problem with that argument is that most small business owners — including doctors and lawyers — file their business taxes as individuals. And according to the Tax Policy Center only 2 percent of small businesses make over $250,000 a year.

What about the cries of, “We can’t raise taxes on the wealthy and big corporations because they are the job creators of this country.”

Well, in the words of the rich, yet stingy Mr. Crabs: “That’s barnacles, me boy!”

For one thing, corporate taxes have been at their lowest since the 1950’s, yet jobs and wages have been on a steady decline while corporate profits soar. And the argument that businesses are over-regulated is weak.

The whole financial crisis of 2008 was due to lack of regulation and there has not been much change in regulation since.

Still, businesses send American jobs overseas. In fact, the American Jobs Creation Act was created in 2004 in order to help bring foreign profits back home.

What was the result?

A Senate panel released a study that concluded that the corporations who took advantage of  the huge tax breaks did nothing to create jobs. Instead, these companies actually cut jobs and research spending, while stocking paybacks and executive pay. Surprise.

Even when there is some form of regulation, corporations look for ways to make more money.

We are familiar with Bank of America’s plan to charge debit card users five bucks a month in order to spend their own money.

CNN’s Erin Burnett reported that BoA will make a 13 percent profit. These corporations have it so hard.

If Shaquille O’Neal and Chris Rock invested right, they should have no issues or money problems like the rest of us. But even they could not ignore the old cliché: the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer.

Originally printed in The Voyager