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Excerpt: "Our now infamous one percent own more than 35 percent of the nation's wealth. Meanwhile, the bottom 40 percent of the country is in debt."

Portrait, Bill Moyers. (photo: PBS)
Portrait, Bill Moyers. (photo: PBS)

Government = Protection Racket For the 1 Percent

By Bill Moyers, Michael Winship, Moyers & Company

23 April 14


he evidence of income inequality just keeps mounting. According to “Working for the Few,” a recent briefing paper from Oxfam, “In the US, the wealthiest one percent captured 95 percent of post-financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent became poorer.”

Our now infamous one percent own more than 35 percent of the nation’s wealth. Meanwhile, the bottom 40 percent of the country is in debt. Just this past Tuesday, the 15th of April — Tax Day — the AFL-CIO reported that last year the chief executive officers of 350 top American corporations were paid 331 times more money than the average US worker. Those executives made an average of $11.7 million dollars compared to the average worker who earned $35,239 dollars.

As that analysis circulated on Tax Day, the economic analyst Robert Reich reminded us that in addition to getting the largest percent of total national income in nearly a century, many in the one percent are paying a lower federal tax rate than a lot of people in the middle class. You may remember that an obliging Congress, of both parties, allows high rollers of finance the privilege of “carried interest,” a tax rate below that of their secretaries and clerks.

And at state and local levels, while the poorest fifth of Americans pay an average tax rate of over 11 percent, the richest one percent of the country pay — are you ready for this? — half that rate. Now, neither Nature nor Nature’s God drew up our tax codes; that’s the work of legislators — politicians — and it’s one way they have, as Chief Justice John Roberts might put it, of expressing gratitude to their donors: “Oh, Mr. Adelson, we so appreciate your generosity that we cut your estate taxes so you can give $8 billion as a tax-free payment to your heirs, even though down the road the public will have to put up $2.8 billion to compensate for the loss in tax revenue.”

All of which makes truly repugnant the argument, heard so often from courtiers of the rich, that inequality doesn’t matter. Of course it matters. Inequality is what has turned Washington into a protection racket for the one percent. It buys all those goodies from government: Tax breaks. Tax havens (which allow corporations and the rich to park their money in a no-tax zone). Loopholes. Favors like carried interest. And so on. As Paul Krugman writes in his New York Review of Books essay on Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, “We now know both that the United States has a much more unequal distribution of income than other advanced countries and that much of this difference in outcomes can be attributed directly to government action.”

Recently, researchers at Connecticut’s Trinity College ploughed through the data and concluded that the US Senate is responsive to the policy preferences of the rich, ignoring the poor. And now there’s that big study coming out in the fall from scholars at Princeton and Northwestern universities, based on data collected between 1981 and 2002. Their conclusion: “America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened… The preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.” Instead, policy tends “to tilt towards the wishes of corporations and business and professional associations.”

Last month, Matea Gold of The Washington Post reported on a pair of political science graduate students who released a study confirming that money does equal access in Washington. Joshua Kalla and David Broockman drafted two form letters asking 191 members of Congress for a meeting to discuss a certain piece of legislation. One email said “active political donors” would be present; the second email said only that a group of “local constituents” would be at the meeting.

One guess as to which emails got the most response. Yes, more than five times as many legislators or their chiefs of staff offered to set up meetings with active donors than with local constituents. Why is it not corruption when the selling of access to our public officials upends the very core of representative government? When money talks and you have none, how can you believe in democracy?

Sad, that it’s come to this. The drift toward oligarchy that Thomas Piketty describes in his formidable new book on capital has become a mad dash. It will overrun us, unless we stop it. your social media marketing partner


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+6 # barbaratodish 2014-04-23 10:56
Government (and by extension, police, etc.,) protects property, and what is worse, the government protects the 1%'s EMOTIONAL DEFENSIVENESS re their property, because the 1% are more their emotional defensiveness of their property than they are HUMAN!,,
+6 # artistinaspen 2014-04-23 19:15

But wait... it gets better. The 0.01% selfishness on steroids.

Google Lee Mulcahy tea party.

I just received this from my Senator's aid.

Quote: "I’ve heard back from the USFS regarding [your questions]:

'Why is one company, one family allowed to remove any competition?

Why does the Forest Service not approve any new permits for additional ski schools?'

Noah Koerper| U.S. Senator Michael Bennet


Forest Service response:

Ski Areas permitted to operate on National Forest System lands are authorized under the National Forest Ski Area Permit Act of 1986 (16 U.S.C. 497b). As the holder of a Term Special Use Permit, ski areas are authorized to use National Forest System Lands for the purposes of constructing, operating, and maintaining a winter sports resort including ancillary facilities and services approved by the Authorized Officer, the Forest Supervisor. The holder of the permit is the company, or individual, that has met the requirements under the law to hold such a permit.
+4 # artistinaspen 2014-04-23 19:19
The Terms and Conditions of the permit include a Nonexclusive Use clause which states, “The Forest Service reserves the right to allow others to use the permit area in any way that is not inconsistent with the holder’s rights and privileges under this permit, after consultation with all parties involved.” In this case, if the permit holder operates a ski school as part of their approved activities, it would be inconsistent with the holder’s rights and privileges to permit another party for the same use within the holder’s permit area. After all, the permit holder has significant investment in the construction, operation and maintenance of the improvements necessary to operate a resort on National Forest System lands. These are the same improvements that would be required to operate a ski school. Additionally, under the proposal screening criteria required under 36 C.F.R. 251.54e, proposed uses should not unreasonably conflict or interfere with administrative use by the Forest Service, other scheduled or existing authorized uses, on or adjacent to National Forest System lands. Therefore, if a ski school currently exists under authorization, additional ski schools would not be permitted."


Really? Last time I checked this was America. Even in socialist France, they have bunches of competing ski schools per mountain where private lessons aren't $750.00/day & beginning instructors get $75/day.- Lee Mulcahy for State Senate, huh greedy Lester?
+1 # RobertMStahl 2014-04-24 07:30
Evidence of the crime:

Formal proof of the racketeering:
+1 # RLF 2014-04-28 05:27
Awww! Poor artist in aspen. Having to pay a bit for your lessons? Being an artist and living in Aspen means you are rich. Agreed that ski areas are a scam. I grew up in Crested Butte owned by the Walton family. Funny how they never make any money when the leases come up. The money disappears through accting. games and sidelining extremely profitably activities like ski schools, and all costly activities like slope maintenance, are kept by the direct corp. It is a scam on the gov. just like 10,000 other scams the wealthy use to extract unearned moneys from the tax payers. If they're not careful there will be another bastile day.
0 # artistinaspen 2014-06-06 17:21
Exactly brother. I didn't know the Waltons owned Crested Butte. Did you hear Alice Walton just bought a $70,000,000.00 penthouse in New York City.

Aspen is owned by out of state billionaires from Chicago, "best friends" with the Obama's. Michelle has stayed at their palace here in "Versailles" THE LAST THREE YEARS.

I wanted to protest out front since their "house" is 4 blocks from mine; however it's now a felony to protest near the SS. Google NDAA.

You mentioned the Bastille. We did a sculpture on that theme:

From this blog:

You mentioned revolution; you'd best keep your mouth shut. If you're ever in Aspen, let me by you a beer or 4. Here's my blog:
+37 # tswhiskers 2014-04-23 13:06
You say the drift toward oligarchy has become a mad dash and will overrun us unless we stop it. This fact has been well-publicized for a long time but commentators are at this time predicting a Rep. win in both houses come Nov. So what can be done in the face of public indifference to election outcomes? It's blatantly obvious that the voters are even more shortsighted than the politicians. It is predicted that turnout will be very small among Dems., that the young, in spite of their huge debt load, won't bother to vote in either the primaries or the election and that only the Rep. fringe are interested enough to vote in their primaries. So in spite of a few Reps. who want to run some sober, intelligent candidates, it will probably be the usual Rep. nuts who will win in Nov. and those of us who voted will stand by feeling the usual helplessness in the face of public stupidity and indifference-- UNTIL 2016 rolls around and a few will lift up their heads just long enough to wonder how such idiots could be running for public office. Then they will put their heads back in the sand because it's too overwhelming to deal with. Well, ostriches, WE GET THE GOVT. WE DESERVE AND NOTHING MORE. I'd like to think there are enough people to realize that if we would vote in large numbers, we might get better govt. but....
+14 # wantrealdemocracy 2014-04-23 13:34
Here is the news for all the people that urge us to get out and vote. It is a waste of time. The system is corrupted. They don't even bother to count the votes in communities of color. And what do we have to vote for? Pile of excrement one or pile of excrement two. All we have to do is figure out which smells the best. We don't get the government we deserve. We get the government that the rich choose as best to serve their needs for futher help in getting richer. Those 'honored members of Congress' Do not represent the people of this nation. We,the people, are not of any concern to our corrupt (bought and paid for) elected officials. If we could mandate that they had to vote as the constituents say, that would we a whole new show. The people do not want more wars and asuterity. We want our fair share of the nation's prosperity.
+4 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2014-04-23 14:38
I've noticed so much "INK" is devoted to writing about tax inequality. Yet, not one writer has stated (WHO) is giving away the tax breaks to the wealthy? Not one. Who are they? Which politicians are giving away these enourmous tax breaks? Suppose you have your car towed to a garage because something is not operational. You ask the mechanic to fix your car. The mechanic will say, "let's check your car out. See why it is not properly running." He fixes the car. Yet, when it comes to disabling the tax system, nobody can say, "this person, that group is responsible for the give away." Why?
+11 # tclose 2014-04-23 15:51
Eldon - it is very clear who is giving away tax breaks to the wealthy. They are called Republicans. True, there are some DINOs who vote with them too, but mostly it is Repubs. Simple.
+2 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2014-04-23 15:56
Question remains. Which Republicans? It is easy to point a hand and say, "it is they." Suppose I were to to say, "I'm going on vacation." Friend, "Where?" Eldon, I just point my hand and say,"west." Pretty silly.
+6 # JSRaleigh 2014-04-23 16:10
Quoting Eldon J. Bloedorn:
Question remains. Which Republicans?

ALL of them.
+4 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2014-04-23 17:41
Who are "all of them?" How do you know that?

Einstein,"why are you in school?" Typical response, "to learn to read and write. Learn something about history, etc." Einstein:"the primary reason you are in school is to learn how to think."

Same dull answers, "all of them." Who? "The Republicans."

I'm a Progressive, not a Republican. Can't this board be devoted to at least a little thinking?

Sort of like asking,"why did this country embrace slavery." Typical answer. "Because of cotton. If it were not for cotton, we would not have had slavery. It's cottons fault." LOL!

Democrats have become slaves to a horribly unfair tax system. And, the tax code is unquestionably very unfair. And they do not have the faintest idea who enslaved them to the present tax code.

Each of us has to analize our reprsentatives voting records. If we do not we do not know.
+5 # REDPILLED 2014-04-24 12:09
In the 1950's, when Dwight Eisenhower, a Republican, was President, marginal tax rates on the rich were 90% and above, and corporations also paid higher taxes than they do today. Labor unions had higher membership. The result was a growing, thriving U.S. middle class and relatively lower economic inequality.

Starting with the taxes "needed" to fund the Dem. LBJ's, then Rep. Nixon's illegal war of aggression on the people of Vietnam, taxes became less fair to the middle class. This continued and worsened, especially since Reagan.

You can spend hours tediously and loboriously checking every vote on tax policies since 1960 for the names of those Republicans and Democrats who voted either way, but why waste your time and energy?

Today, the U.S. tax system is deliberately less progressive than 50 years ago, with many ultra-wealthy people and corporations paying NO taxes (and some getting subsidies), while people earning far less pay taxes.

The entire corrupt system must be changed, not simply reformed. After the notorious SCOTUS betrayals of democracy in Buckley v. Valeo (1976), Citzens United (2010), and McCutcheon (2014), it is abundantly clear that oligarchy is the goal of most politicians, regardless of which wing of the Wall Street/Imperial ist Party they belong to.

The only question remaing is: what can we do, if anything, to dismantle this Empire and create a true democracy here before Catastrophic Climate Disaster overtakes all of us?
+3 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2014-04-24 19:53
Good post. Thank you.
0 # RLF 2014-04-28 05:31
Tax RATES are only the tip of the iceberg. The real meat is in the tax deductions the rich make me puke...a THIRD home in the Hamptons??? What kind of horse doo doo is that?
0 # tpmco 2014-04-24 15:58
Exactly. We get no specifics.
0 # RLF 2014-04-28 05:29
You're wrong is ALL of them!
+15 # Regina 2014-04-23 14:59
It's not just indifference by Dems -- it's the reason "red" states are throwing obstacles to voting, to bar those who might vote against the entrenched interests.
+13 # PaineRad 2014-04-23 15:10
Cynicism and resignation are the ultimate cop-outs and supreme cowardice.

No one can accurately predict the future six or seven months out. No one predicted accurately the fall of the USSR. No one accurately predicted the Arab Spring. No one.

I can't predict the future with any precision. But I can guarantee one thing. If we do nothing but complain while glued to the sofa or kneeling in the garden, everything will get worse. Whining achieves nothing. Guaranteed.

If we want change, we need to generate it by getting out of the shadows and onto the streets and social media. Both, not just one or the other.
0 # RLF 2014-04-28 05:34
If you haven't noticed...NOTHI NG is achieving anything...prot ests are ignored and the voters are morons who are fooled in 2 seconds. This country is is only a matter of when and right now it looks like we're falling right....can you say heil!
0 # Malcolm 2014-04-24 00:47
+1 # Malcolm 2014-04-24 00:50
I share your angst, ta whiskers, and I have never missed an opportunity to vote in the 41 years I've been an adult.

Yet, I often wonder if we really DO "get the government we deserve."

Do our votes actually mean anything? If all those people who don't vote began voting, would it really change anything?

It's puzzling why we seem to be ignoring all the electronic voting corruption. Is that just old news? Is it still happening?
+1 # tpmco 2014-04-24 16:05
Check in with Brad Friedman T his website

He is the media authority on election matters and logistics.
0 # Fairlady 2014-04-30 07:16
If you and all people commenting re this problem would work on the Get Out the Vote effort, we just might have good, honest people who really care about us mere mortals win elective office. In my area,
we are already block-walking and phone
banking, as well as a push for voter registration every Saturday in public places. GET OFF YOUR DUFF!! A little
crude, but, hopefully, effective.
+19 # Sangze 2014-04-23 13:57
This is old news. The problem is that no one seems to know what to do. The billionaires sit around and laugh at the fools they have created of the American population, which has no representation. There is no leadership, and little hope of any leadership ever developing. The billionaires will quickly stamp out or otherwise pervert any effort to change things. The US is no longer a democracy. There's nothing that can be done about it. Change will only come from outside.
-16 # PaineRad 2014-04-23 15:14
Whine Whine
0 # RLF 2014-04-28 05:35
And you're an idiot. "Lets have a nonviolent sit'll create some good photos!"
+1 # wrknight 2014-04-23 18:29
Quoting Sangze:
The problem is that no one seems to know what to do.

God gave you a brain with which to think and the founding fathers gave you the right to vote. Use both!
+3 # Susan1989 2014-04-23 14:23
The human race is insane. That is the only problem. When has the debate about one ideology over the other served anyone? Centuries of politics and talk has gotten us nowhere. Both parties are guided by the need for power and greed...the only difference is style. This is a world wide problem. He only solution is an evolution of the human brain whereby the fear od "not having enough" ceases to be the guiding force of all human endeavor.
+6 # tclose 2014-04-23 15:45
I don't agree, Susan. Yes, the human race has some tendencies that appear insane. But the debate over ideology has served a purpose in leading away from tyranny and towards democratic institutions. The problem now is that movement has stalled, and has been since (in this country) about 1980. Ideology is more important an issue given how far we have regressed, not less.

The issue before us is that people of a certain ideology have used their financial power to hijack the democratic system and bend it to their benefit. It is highly appropriate to not only debate but also fight this ideological battle - to do otherwise is to cave in to tyranny.
0 # Malcolm 2014-04-24 01:04
I agree, tclose. But I really don't understand what mental perversity affects these uber rich assholes.

You say they bend the system to their own benefit. That's what confuses me. When someone's so bloody rich that they can buy anything they want,any time they want, including politicians, what does the word "benefit" really mean?

Maybe I'm being thick headed, but how do the Kochsukkas, for only one example, "benefit" by paying lower tax rates than normal people?
+12 # sunflower333 2014-04-23 15:37
Oligarchy during climate change is like playing a game of Monopoly on the deck of the Titanic.
+2 # Anarchist 23 2014-04-23 16:36
Which is why I have put on my life jacket and am enjoying the view while waiting for Fate to dispose of me...I've done what I can do, will continue to try but at this last, I am resigned. Still, the view is nice.
+2 # jojo5056 2014-04-23 15:43
Does anyone here know of one fed politician that does not belong to the 1%?
0 # Malcolm 2014-04-24 01:16
Good question! I assume they're all one percenters, or they wouldn't have the $$ to buy their election.

But I googled it,not make sure. There appears to be no consensus on the subject:

ABC says, "47% of Congress Members Millionaires — a Status Shared by Only 1% of Americans".

I find that hard to believe, so went here:

And found this: "WASHINGTON — Who is the 1%?
Well, about 57 members of Congress are part of that elite group.
Roughly 11% of Congress have net worth of more than $9 million, according to a USA TODAY analysis of 2010 financial disclosures compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. That's enough to put them in the top 1% of wealth."

Caveat: these figures do not include the politicians' primary residences, nor personal property. Hell, how many of them have multimillion dollar homes? How many have yachts at several ports? How many Rolls Royce's, Jags, Bentleys?

Strange that one source says being a mere millionaire puts someone in the 1%, and the other puts the level NINE TIMES THAT HIGH.
0 # RLF 2014-04-28 05:38
There are 2-4 of them.
+1 # jojo5056 2014-04-23 15:46
Easy solution for a major clean up--all persons and corporations filed income tax be made public available. I love to see Biden Reid McCain Kerry Clinton's tax returns :^(
+8 # Cassandra2012 2014-04-23 15:58
Boner, ? McConnell? Canter, Ryan, Paul, Scott Walker? et al????
The Koch Bros' criminal family? The Bush criminal family? ET AL
+4 # mgwmgw 2014-04-23 15:48
If Bernie Sanders ran for President in 2016, do people think that would do any good?
+1 # Malcolm 2014-04-24 01:19
I always have thought so, until I read about him and the F35.
+3 # tclose 2014-04-23 15:57
Bill Moyers is one of those few notable journalists left who tells it like it is. Bravely done, if enough people get this message maybe there is a way to stop this.

Not easily done, no doubt, but getting the message out in every form possible is what is needed. Lets do all we can to make this happen.
+9 # Inspired Citizen 2014-04-23 15:59
The key is to get BIG money out of politics. That will require a constitutional amendment, perhaps from an amendment convention.

There are lots of organizations working on this, but ONLY the We the People amendment covers corporate personhood and the regulation of money in elections.

Move to Amend is how "we stop it."
-20 # 2014-04-23 17:07
I would heed your words more readily if you would give up 75% of your wealth to help those in need since you fall within the 1% !!

Also, you failed to mention that the 1% pay over 65% of total income taxes.
+9 # ericlipps 2014-04-23 18:16
Assuming that's true, so what? It still represents a lesser sacrifice for them--especiall y since so much of what any rational system would count as their income is counted as, dear me, no, not INCOME, but "capital gains"--an either left untaxed or lightly taxed, in percentage terms, by comparison with the wages of the peasants who toil for them.
0 # RLF 2014-04-28 05:42
65%??? Haven't you read anything about this??? You're showing your ignorance here. Turn off Faux and start reading. Start with Thomas Piketty's book, as mentioned in the article you didn't read.
+3 # Rockster 2014-04-24 00:40
OK fellow seekers of clean air for breathing and fueling our thinking apparatus ------ There are tried and true ways of hurting business enough to get people who live in the clean air to pay attention. 1) ask yourself the question , "What will I give up materially to inflict enough economic distress to get attention ? Coffee? Sugar? Corn products ? Oil and gas?" Then get started recruiting a group of like thinkers to focus on a few carefully targeted corps . I would think that Comcast would make an interesting first choice . Then it could get a lite hot in the kitchen so you'd better had made your peace with your God and checked for moles among your "friends" . Given our country's history with strike breakers , you should expect no easy road , and they do have those for profit prisons to keep full. Assuming the vanguard can stick together on the rolling boycotts , there could be enough momentum to really get into the heads( maybe hearts) of some of the one percenters . It's worth remembering that they are not so tough or smart as we are . They've had too easy cause the decks stacked in their favor and it will take a while to even believe that we've awakened and are serious. What do you say ? Shall we give it a go?
+1 # elizabethblock 2014-04-24 14:01
This is why so many people don´t vote. And who can blame them?

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