Enter the villain…

A topic I am, well not fond of but at least filmier with: in-equality and the scale of American super greed.

Park Avenue, ( the video not the street)  covered a fair bit of ground, from broad income inequality to lobbying  and it’s outcomes to super wealthy ideology and ending with the how Koch bought a governor in Wisconsin.

The way that wealth is “shared” has changed rather drastically lo these last 40 years. Looking at growth of income from 1947-1977 there is still a huge gap from the top earners to the medium earners, but the relationship between the two stayed constant, as the rich grew richer the poor did as well, and importantly here is the rates were similar ( if you look at the graph the lines are mostly parallel, they have the same slope) that changes sometime in the late 70’s/ early 80’s somewhere in there the rate of income gain for the majority of the nation remained on pretty much the exact same cores it had been on for 40 years, but the top 1%’s income changed from a liner increase to an exponential one (sharp upward curve, most importantly, the rate of change was increasing!) what does all this pusdo math speak mean? The numbers posted in the video paint a clear picture of the super wealthy getting far richer than ever, and that the rest of us are not seeing much in terms of gains, it also means that the trend of the super wealthy’s income’s increasing will be approaching a limit at some point, hopefully sooner rather than later.

From the video namesake park avenue, a place where the wealthy in the world call home, and have done so for almost 100 years. The video tells of some rather interesting residents at 740 P.A., like David Koch, the wealthiest man in the building.  He lives in the same apt. that Rockefeller Jr. lived in, and ( along with his brother) has spend insane amounts of money in the political arena. Way back in 88 he tried to run for president on the libertarian ticked, to no effect, he saw about 1% of the popular vote. Over the next 30 years he has funded right a right wing think thank (the KATO instate) and political action committee “Americans for prosperity” that name is rather humors when one considers that the richest 400 people in the U.S. (of which Dave is one) hold the same amount of wealth as the bottom 150 million ( that is almost ½ of us).  The joke being that Americans are only getting more prosperity if they are in the top 1% income bracket.

Money spent on politicians is always well spent, and the residents of 740 know this all to well, just Koch alone has contributed to over half of the congress (both house and senate). This kind of funding is both very effective and not limited to Koch. The last 3 presidents have all called for a fix to the “carried interest provision” i.e. the section  in the tax code that allows income to be taxed at 15%, event if the money being risked is not owned by the person who profited on it ( Ie you risk others money, but get taxed at the low ( encourage risk ) rate). Event when the house, senate, and presidency were all controlled by democrats and the house passed a bill to close this oversight nothing happened. Well nothing happened to the loophole, a whole lot happened with Charles Schumer. In the month the bill was to be passed he raised over 1 million dollars for champains, and the bill never was read in the senate.

Altus Shrugged was also referenced, I will disclose now I have not read the book. However from what I understand it glorifies the exploitation of those less able than yourself, and all I can think of that mentality is: if you truly believe that why not just use the mentally handicapped as slave labor?

Getting to the readings, the article “Rich People Just Care Less”, the idea that our economic “betters” don’t  care much about the rest of us is not new. The research cited ( although no studies were named) was described as showing people with more power were less attentive to those with less power. It also claimed that while poor people also showed this bias, it was not as strong as was demonstrated by the wealthy.  The article gets interesting when it tries to link this dismissive behavior to our leaders in congress, namely the house republicans who wish to do away with food stamps. The claim is that “readily dismissing inconvenient people can easily extend to dismissing inconvenient truths about them.” So congress is acting in a natural way when they try  to take away food from hungry people, but it is not out of malice, just lack of empathy.

The other article focused on the bottom line, or rather how much we should be focusing on the bottom line… J.P. Morgan was assessed a 11 billon $ fine for risky business practices (trading w/ mortgage backed securities). The article was a back and forth between Alex Pareene a political writer for Salon held the position that what J.P. ( well J.P.’s ceo) did was bad, and that he should not be rewarded for it. The other people on the program cited the results, IE: J.P. was the most profitable bank, and those practices did make a boat load of money, so really the ceo did a good job. Where one weighs in on this depends on perspective, if you want to make the most money, than J.P. was (and is) working hard to that end. If you are more concerned with social issues, like people lousing their houses, the 2008 crash ext… and not as concerned with how much money you can get RIGHT NOW, then as Alex articulated the should step down. There was no shortage of people who took the former view though, saying “Even with all these losses, the company continues to churn out tens of billions of dollars in earnings and hundreds of millions in revenues. How do you criticize that?”. How indeed, anyone focused keenly on profits will disagree with Alex, and we will continue to have CEO (and companies for that matter) who gladly take the governmental slap on the wrist. Until we have fines that include complete liquidation of all company AND management assets reckless actions will be rewarded by the market.

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