by Molly Ivins
days, you have to believe right-wing ideologues have lost touch with reality completely. Their latest proposal to prevent future Enrons is -- ta-da! -- cut the capital gains tax.
And exactly what does that do to prevent future Enrons? Nothing. Except Ken Lay won't have to pay taxes on the stock he sold while his company cratered and his employees watched their life savings disappear.
Enron & Etc. are not the consequence of a few greedy executives cutting corners -- they are the result of a series of deregulatory measures and other changes in the law that set up the opportunity for theft on a staggering scale, making it not only possible but inevitable. The Sarbanes Bill, good on it, fixes exactly one of the at least six major systemic problems in the financial markets, as well as puts more cops back on the white-collar crime beat. That leaves quite a ways to go.
In a recent issue of the National Review, television personality Larry Kudlow goes even farther, suggesting:
It's amazing to me that only populists are ever accused of class-warfare. Talk about losing a grip on reality. I'll tell you what class warfare is:
The stress and tension in the lives of middle-class Americans is unfortunately not quantifiable, but that's part of class warfare, too.
None of this is inevitable or even accidental. It is a consequence of oligopoly, rule by the rich through their campaign contributions. In the 1940s and '50s, the middle 60 percent of Americans got the largest share of the growth in the economic pie. In the '90s, the increase went disproportionately to the very wealthy. Phillips reports it dwarfs what happened in the Gilded Age.
When George W. Bush came into office, the first thing he did was give an enormous tax break to the richest 1 percent of Americans, the same people who had gained at such a madly soaring pace. That's class warfare, too.
If I may be just wildly populist here for a moment, we can't fix any of this by making it worse with even more tax cuts for the very wealthy. It puzzles me that the well-off complain so much about taxes when they pay so little relative to their wealth. (See the website of Citizens for Tax Justice at www.cpj.org.) If Bush has his way, we are going to fight an unprovoked war with Iraq without the financial aid of any allies. The health care system is falling apart in front of our eyes, school teachers should be paid at least twice what they make now, lack of low-income housing is making life hell for the working class and now the right-wing wants to cut taxes for the rich yet again? That's class warfare.
August 13 2002 (http://albionmonitor.com) All Rights Reserved. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for permission to use in any format.
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