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Hanauer reports: "Many of us think we're special because "this is America." We think we're immune to the same forces that started the Arab Spring-or the French and Russian revolutions, for that matter."

Nick Hanauer in front of a Mc'Donalds. (photo: Robbie McClaran/Redux Pictures)
Nick Hanauer in front of a Mc'Donalds. (photo: Robbie McClaran/Redux Pictures)

The Pitchforks Are Coming... For Us Plutocrats

By Nick Hanauer, Politico

03 July 14


SEE ALSO: Nick Hanauer's Latest Near Insane Economic Plan

ou probably don’t know me, but like you I am one of those .01%ers, a proud and unapologetic capitalist. I have founded, co-founded and funded more than 30 companies across a range of industries—from itsy-bitsy ones like the night club I started in my 20s to giant ones like, for which I was the first nonfamily investor. Then I founded aQuantive, an Internet advertising company that was sold to Microsoft in 2007 for $6.4 billion. In cash. My friends and I own a bank. I tell you all this to demonstrate that in many ways I’m no different from you. Like you, I have a broad perspective on business and capitalism. And also like you, I have been rewarded obscenely for my success, with a life that the other 99.99 percent of Americans can’t even imagine. Multiple homes, my own plane, etc., etc. You know what I’m talking about. In 1992, I was selling pillows made by my family’s business, Pacific Coast Feather Co., to retail stores across the country, and the Internet was a clunky novelty to which one hooked up with a loud squawk at 300 baud. But I saw pretty quickly, even back then, that many of my customers, the big department store chains, were already doomed. I knew that as soon as the Internet became fast and trustworthy enough—and that time wasn’t far off—people were going to shop online like crazy. Goodbye, Caldor. And Filene’s. And Borders. And on and on.

Realizing that, seeing over the horizon a little faster than the next guy, was the strategic part of my success. The lucky part was that I had two friends, both immensely talented, who also saw a lot of potential in the web. One was a guy you’ve probably never heard of named Jeff Tauber, and the other was a fellow named Jeff Bezos. I was so excited by the potential of the web that I told both Jeffs that I wanted to invest in whatever they launched, big time. It just happened that the second Jeff—Bezos—called me back first to take up my investment offer. So I helped underwrite his tiny start-up bookseller. The other Jeff started a web department store called Cybershop, but at a time when trust in Internet sales was still low, it was too early for his high-end online idea; people just weren’t yet ready to buy expensive goods without personally checking them out (unlike a basic commodity like books, which don’t vary in quality—Bezos’ great insight). Cybershop didn’t make it, just another dot-com bust. Amazon did somewhat better. Now I own a very large yacht.

But let’s speak frankly to each other. I’m not the smartest guy you’ve ever met, or the hardest-working. I was a mediocre student. I’m not technical at all—I can’t write a word of code. What sets me apart, I think, is a tolerance for risk and an intuition about what will happen in the future. Seeing where things are headed is the essence of entrepreneurship. And what do I see in our future now?

I see pitchforks.

At the same time that people like you and me are thriving beyond the dreams of any plutocrats in history, the rest of the country—the 99.99 percent—is lagging far behind. The divide between the haves and have-nots is getting worse really, really fast. In 1980, the top 1 percent controlled about 8 percent of U.S. national income. The bottom 50 percent shared about 18 percent. Today the top 1 percent share about 20 percent; the bottom 50 percent, just 12 percent.

But the problem isn’t that we have inequality. Some inequality is intrinsic to any high-functioning capitalist economy. The problem is that inequality is at historically high levels and getting worse every day. Our country is rapidly becoming less a capitalist society and more a feudal society. Unless our policies change dramatically, the middle class will disappear, and we will be back to late 18th-century France. Before the revolution.

And so I have a message for my fellow filthy rich, for all of us who live in our gated bubble worlds: Wake up, people. It won’t last.

If we don’t do something to fix the glaring inequities in this economy, the pitchforks are going to come for us. No society can sustain this kind of rising inequality. In fact, there is no example in human history where wealth accumulated like this and the pitchforks didn’t eventually come out. You show me a highly unequal society, and I will show you a police state. Or an uprising. There are no counterexamples. None. It’s not if, it’s when.

Many of us think we’re special because “this is America.” We think we’re immune to the same forces that started the Arab Spring—or the French and Russian revolutions, for that matter. I know you fellow .01%ers tend to dismiss this kind of argument; I’ve had many of you tell me to my face I’m completely bonkers. And yes, I know there are many of you who are convinced that because you saw a poor kid with an iPhone that one time, inequality is a fiction.

Here’s what I say to you: You’re living in a dream world. What everyone wants to believe is that when things reach a tipping point and go from being merely crappy for the masses to dangerous and socially destabilizing, that we’re somehow going to know about that shift ahead of time. Any student of history knows that’s not the way it happens. Revolutions, like bankruptcies, come gradually, and then suddenly. One day, somebody sets himself on fire, then thousands of people are in the streets, and before you know it, the country is burning. And then there’s no time for us to get to the airport and jump on our Gulfstream Vs and fly to New Zealand. That’s the way it always happens. If inequality keeps rising as it has been, eventually it will happen. We will not be able to predict when, and it will be terrible—for everybody. But especially for us.

The most ironic thing about rising inequality is how completely unnecessary and self-defeating it is. If we do something about it, if we adjust our policies in the way that, say, Franklin D. Roosevelt did during the Great Depression—so that we help the 99 percent and preempt the revolutionaries and crazies, the ones with the pitchforks—that will be the best thing possible for us rich folks, too. It’s not just that we’ll escape with our lives; it’s that we’ll most certainly get even richer.

The model for us rich guys here should be Henry Ford, who realized that all his autoworkers in Michigan weren’t only cheap labor to be exploited; they were consumers, too. Ford figured that if he raised their wages, to a then-exorbitant $5 a day, they’d be able to afford his Model Ts.

What a great idea. My suggestion to you is: Let’s do it all over again. We’ve got to try something. These idiotic trickle-down policies are destroying my customer base. And yours too.

It’s when I realized this that I decided I had to leave my insulated world of the super-rich and get involved in politics. Not directly, by running for office or becoming one of the big-money billionaires who back candidates in an election. Instead, I wanted to try to change the conversation with ideas—by advancing what my co-author, Eric Liu, and I call “middle-out” economics. It’s the long-overdue rebuttal to the trickle-down economics worldview that has become economic orthodoxy across party lines—and has so screwed the American middle class and our economy generally. Middle-out economics rejects the old misconception that an economy is a perfectly efficient, mechanistic system and embraces the much more accurate idea of an economy as a complex ecosystem made up of real people who are dependent on one another.

Which is why the fundamental law of capitalism must be: If workers have more money, businesses have more customers. Which makes middle-class consumers, not rich businesspeople like us, the true job creators. Which means a thriving middle class is the source of American prosperity, not a consequence of it. The middle class creates us rich people, not the other way around.

On June 19, 2013, Bloomberg published an article I wrote called “The Capitalist’s Case for a $15 Minimum Wage.” Forbes labeled it “Nick Hanauer’s near insane” proposal. And yet, just weeks after it was published, my friend David Rolf, a Service Employees International Union organizer, roused fast-food workers to go on strike around the country for a $15 living wage. Nearly a year later, the city of Seattle passed a $15 minimum wage. And just 350 days after my article was published, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray signed that ordinance into law. How could this happen, you ask?

It happened because we reminded the masses that they are the source of growth and prosperity, not us rich guys. We reminded them that when workers have more money, businesses have more customers—and need more employees. We reminded them that if businesses paid workers a living wage rather than poverty wages, taxpayers wouldn’t have to make up the difference. And when we got done, 74 percent of likely Seattle voters in a recent poll agreed that a $15 minimum wage was a swell idea.

The standard response in the minimum-wage debate, made by Republicans and their business backers and plenty of Democrats as well, is that raising the minimum wage costs jobs. Businesses will have to lay off workers. This argument reflects the orthodox economics that most people had in college. If you took Econ 101, then you literally were taught that if wages go up, employment must go down. The law of supply and demand and all that. That’s why you’ve got John Boehner and other Republicans in Congress insisting that if you price employment higher, you get less of it. Really?

Because here’s an odd thing. During the past three decades, compensation for CEOs grew 127 times faster than it did for workers. Since 1950, the CEO-to-worker pay ratio has increased 1,000 percent, and that is not a typo. CEOs used to earn 30 times the median wage; now they rake in 500 times. Yet no company I know of has eliminated its senior managers, or outsourced them to China or automated their jobs. Instead, we now have more CEOs and senior executives than ever before. So, too, for financial services workers and technology workers. These folks earn multiples of the median wage, yet we somehow have more and more of them.

The thing about us businesspeople is that we love our customers rich and our employees poor. So for as long as there has been capitalism, capitalists have said the same thing about any effort to raise wages. We’ve had 75 years of complaints from big business—when the minimum wage was instituted, when women had to be paid equitable amounts, when child labor laws were created. Every time the capitalists said exactly the same thing in the same way: We’re all going to go bankrupt. I’ll have to close. I’ll have to lay everyone off. It hasn’t happened. In fact, the data show that when workers are better treated, business gets better. The naysayers are just wrong.

Most of you probably think that the $15 minimum wage in Seattle is an insane departure from rational policy that puts our economy at great risk. But in Seattle, our current minimum wage of $9.32 is already nearly 30 percent higher than the federal minimum wage. And has it ruined our economy yet? Well, trickle-downers, look at the data here: The two cities in the nation with the highest rate of job growth by small businesses are San Francisco and Seattle. Guess which cities have the highest minimum wage? San Francisco and Seattle. The fastest-growing big city in America? Seattle. Fifteen dollars isn’t a risky untried policy for us. It’s doubling down on the strategy that’s already allowing our city to kick your city’s ass.

It makes perfect sense if you think about it: If a worker earns $7.25 an hour, which is now the national minimum wage, what proportion of that person’s income do you think ends up in the cash registers of local small businesses? Hardly any. That person is paying rent, ideally going out to get subsistence groceries at Safeway, and, if really lucky, has a bus pass. But she’s not going out to eat at restaurants. Not browsing for new clothes. Not buying flowers on Mother’s Day.

Is this issue more complicated than I’m making out? Of course. Are there many factors at play determining the dynamics of employment? Yup. But please, please stop insisting that if we pay low-wage workers more, unemployment will skyrocket and it will destroy the economy. It’s utter nonsense. The most insidious thing about trickle-down economics isn’t believing that if the rich get richer, it’s good for the economy. It’s believing that if the poor get richer, it’s bad for the economy.

I know that virtually all of you feel that compelling our businesses to pay workers more is somehow unfair, or is too much government interference. Most of you think that we should just let good examples like Costco or Gap lead the way. Or let the market set the price. But here’s the thing. When those who set bad examples, like the owners of Wal-Mart or McDonald’s, pay their workers close to the minimum wage, what they’re really saying is that they’d pay even less if it weren’t illegal. (Thankfully both companies have recently said they would not oppose a hike in the minimum wage.) In any large group, some people absolutely will not do the right thing. That’s why our economy can only be safe and effective if it is governed by the same kinds of rules as, say, the transportation system, with its speed limits and stop signs.

Wal-Mart is our nation’s largest employer with some 1.4 million employees in the United States and more than $25 billion in pre-tax profit. So why are Wal-Mart employees the largest group of Medicaid recipients in many states? Wal-Mart could, say, pay each of its 1 million lowest-paid workers an extra $10,000 per year, raise them all out of poverty and enable them to, of all things, afford to shop at Wal-Mart. Not only would this also save us all the expense of the food stamps, Medicaid and rent assistance that they currently require, but Wal-Mart would still earn more than $15 billion pre-tax per year. Wal-Mart won’t (and shouldn’t) volunteer to pay its workers more than their competitors. In order for us to have an economy that works for everyone, we should compel all retailers to pay living wages—not just ask politely.

We rich people have been falsely persuaded by our schooling and the affirmation of society, and have convinced ourselves, that we are the main job creators. It’s simply not true. There can never be enough super-rich Americans to power a great economy. I earn about 1,000 times the median American annually, but I don’t buy thousands of times more stuff. My family purchased three cars over the past few years, not 3,000. I buy a few pairs of pants and a few shirts a year, just like most American men. I bought two pairs of the fancy wool pants I am wearing as I write, what my partner Mike calls my “manager pants.” I guess I could have bought 1,000 pairs. But why would I? Instead, I sock my extra money away in savings, where it doesn’t do the country much good.

So forget all that rhetoric about how America is great because of people like you and me and Steve Jobs. You know the truth even if you won’t admit it: If any of us had been born in Somalia or the Congo, all we’d be is some guy standing barefoot next to a dirt road selling fruit. It’s not that Somalia and Congo don’t have good entrepreneurs. It’s just that the best ones are selling their wares off crates by the side of the road because that’s all their customers can afford.

So why not talk about a different kind of New Deal for the American people, one that could appeal to the right as well as left—to libertarians as well as liberals? First, I’d ask my Republican friends to get real about reducing the size of government. Yes, yes and yes, you guys are all correct: The federal government is too big in some ways. But no way can you cut government substantially, not the way things are now. Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush each had eight years to do it, and they failed miserably.

Republicans and Democrats in Congress can’t shrink government with wishful thinking. The only way to slash government for real is to go back to basic economic principles: You have to reduce the demand for government. If people are getting $15 an hour or more, they don’t need food stamps. They don’t need rent assistance. They don’t need you and me to pay for their medical care. If the consumer middle class is back, buying and shopping, then it stands to reason you won’t need as large a welfare state. And at the same time, revenues from payroll and sales taxes would rise, reducing the deficit.

This is, in other words, an economic approach that can unite left and right. Perhaps that’s one reason the right is beginning, inexorably, to wake up to this reality as well. Even Republicans as diverse as Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum recently came out in favor of raising the minimum wage, in defiance of the Republicans in Congress.

One thing we can agree on—I’m sure of this—is that the change isn’t going to start in Washington. Thinking is stale, arguments even more so. On both sides.

But the way I see it, that’s all right. Most major social movements have seen their earliest victories at the state and municipal levels. The fight over the eight-hour workday, which ended in Washington, D.C., in 1938, began in places like Illinois and Massachusetts in the late 1800s. The movement for social security began in California in the 1930s. Even the Affordable Health Care Act—Obamacare—would have been hard to imagine without Mitt Romney’s model in Massachusetts to lead the way.

Sadly, no Republicans and few Democrats get this. President Obama doesn’t seem to either, though his heart is in the right place. In his State of the Union speech this year, he mentioned the need for a higher minimum wage but failed to make the case that less inequality and a renewed middle class would promote faster economic growth. Instead, the arguments we hear from most Democrats are the same old social-justice claims. The only reason to help workers is because we feel sorry for them. These fairness arguments feed right into every stereotype of Obama and the Democrats as bleeding hearts. Republicans say growth. Democrats say fairness—and lose every time.

But just because the two parties in Washington haven’t figured it out yet doesn’t mean we rich folks can just keep going. The conversation is already changing, even if the billionaires aren’t onto it. I know what you think: You think that Occupy Wall Street and all the other capitalism-is-the-problem protesters disappeared without a trace. But that’s not true. Of course, it’s hard to get people to sleep in a park in the cause of social justice. But the protests we had in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis really did help to change the debate in this country from death panels and debt ceilings to inequality.

It’s just that so many of you plutocrats didn’t get the message.

Dear 1%ers, many of our fellow citizens are starting to believe that capitalism itself is the problem. I disagree, and I’m sure you do too. Capitalism, when well managed, is the greatest social technology ever invented to create prosperity in human societies. But capitalism left unchecked tends toward concentration and collapse. It can be managed either to benefit the few in the near term or the many in the long term. The work of democracies is to bend it to the latter. That is why investments in the middle class work. And tax breaks for rich people like us don’t. Balancing the power of workers and billionaires by raising the minimum wage isn’t bad for capitalism. It’s an indispensable tool smart capitalists use to make capitalism stable and sustainable. And no one has a bigger stake in that than zillionaires like us.

The oldest and most important conflict in human societies is the battle over the concentration of wealth and power. The folks like us at the top have always told those at the bottom that our respective positions are righteous and good for all. Historically, we called that divine right. Today we have trickle-down economics.

What nonsense this is. Am I really such a superior person? Do I belong at the center of the moral as well as economic universe? Do you?

My family, the Hanauers, started in Germany selling feathers and pillows. They got chased out of Germany by Hitler and ended up in Seattle owning another pillow company. Three generations later, I benefited from that. Then I got as lucky as a person could possibly get in the Internet age by having a buddy in Seattle named Bezos. I look at the average Joe on the street, and I say, “There but for the grace of Jeff go I.” Even the best of us, in the worst of circumstances, are barefoot, standing by a dirt road, selling fruit. We should never forget that, or forget that the United States of America and its middle class made us, rather than the other way around.

Or we could sit back, do nothing, enjoy our yachts. And wait for the pitchforks. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

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Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+108 # torch and pitchfork 2014-07-03 13:22
Well analyzed, my friend. Hopefully our fellow .01% will treat you as an Oracle of Truth and make the changes necessary to save our system.
+17 # WestWinds 2014-07-04 10:32
Quoting torch and pitchfork:
Well analyzed, my friend. Hopefully our fellow .01% will treat you as an Oracle of Truth and make the changes necessary to save our system.

--- Never happen. They are going to stay the course and over the next two years we are going to see this country go down like we never thought possible.

This will precipitate revolution that will manifest itself not only in the streets but also at the voting booths. Not only will these rich industrialists and entrepreneurs go down, but the whole power structure that now exists is going to take a beating and a cleaning out. Most of these politicians will be stripped from office never to see public life again. It's coming and it's not too far off. We can even calculate it in months. They are going to stay the course and We the People are going to blaze a new trail that will redefine predatory capitalism.

Frankly, I'll be glad to see these big box industrialists lose their shirts; serves them right for being so hateful and greedy.
+2 # babaregi 2014-07-05 16:53
we'll see.
-68 # Farafalla 2014-07-03 13:24
Looks like you have had zero influence on Jeff Bezos and your other birds of a feather. It's nice to see that some rich people still favor the Fordist economy that the rest of rich people killed in the late 1970s.

But I rather read about inequality from authors like Robert Reich or Piketty. And since you are "unapologetic" about your success, I have to worry about your sincerity. Your class has much to own up to and take responsibility for. You fail to connect the dots between your success and our misery. So all I have to say "Fuck you and the horse you rode in on".
+73 # MJnevetS 2014-07-03 13:51
Agricanto, you state: 'since you are "unapologetic" about your success, I have to worry about your sincerity.' Are YOU 'apologetic about your successes'? Don't you feel GOOD about succeeding? This should not be a 'class' war! Not everyone who has 'made it' is the enemy! It is a well thought out statement from someone who is acknowledging that doing the right thing is a good business decision. Also, BTW, he is not even writing to YOU, he is writing to his fellow 1%ers. I may not be super-rich, but I have been successful. I am unapologetic about my success. I do believe in social justice and I am a liberal/progres sive thinker. When someone with power ($=Power) supports your positions, you are foolish to reject their aid, assistance or support!
-4 # Farafalla 2014-07-05 13:31
You are foolish to have no class consciousness.
+10 # brux 2014-07-03 20:54
That's not helpful.
+3 # MidwesTom 2014-07-05 12:28
I wonder what he pays their company janitor?
-6 # Farafalla 2014-07-05 13:30
Looks like a flock of sheep are giving me thumbs down for calling you on the hypocrisy of applauding this parasite of a man. By his own reckoning he is part of the 0.01%. That should make it hard to love him. He also trots out data that we have heard from better sources on inequality. But before you decide to add another thumb for my insults toward him, ask yourself, who supports RSN? Me with my meager 10USD/mo, or this douchebag with his ill-gotten billions?

The trouble with liberals is they always want to kiss and make up with the oppressor class. Radicals on the other hand are equipped with better theory and deeper understanding. Just read Torch and Pitchfork again and see what I mean. It's an obsequious ass licking to one who has gotten rich by bankrupting tens of thousands of businesses through his beloved And this is the most e-mailed post on RSN right now! Wow! "Hopefully our fellow 0.01%"??. "Save our system"? You readers make me sick.
-67 # perkinsej 2014-07-03 13:29
Sorry, but raising minimum wages will have little impact on general trends. Imposing a so-called wealth tax would certainly help at reducing so much discontent, but it too cannot alter the basic fundaments. Wages rise at best about 2 percent annually, while returns on investments average around 6 to 8 percent at a minimum. No way out.
+65 # ericlipps 2014-07-03 14:33
Quoting perkinsej:
Sorry, but raising minimum wages will have little impact on general trends. . . . Wages rise at best about 2 percent annually, while returns on investments average around 6 to 8 percent at a minimum. No way out.

You treat this as though it were a law of nature or a decree from God. Personally, I prefer to believe there IS a way out, some answer which will allow ordinary people a better share in economic growth. Because if there isn't, sooner or later there WILL be an explosion.
+17 # WestWinds 2014-07-04 10:41
Quoting ericlipps:
[quote name="perkinsej"]Personally, I prefer to believe there IS a way out, some answer which will allow ordinary people a better share in economic growth. Because if there isn't, sooner or later there WILL be an explosion.

--- Have you ever watched the prelude to a tidal wave? The water gradually pulls back from the shore leaving the fish flopping around on the exposed ground, then the sky gradually turns a rather bright pinkish orange followed by a wall of water. For those who have been paying attention, the water is out, the fish are flopping and the sky is gradually starting to turn orange. We are already into it and that wall of water is offshore but inbound.
+42 # Buddha 2014-07-03 16:54
A wealth tax isn't really to "reduce discontent", just screwing it to the Ownership class for pleb enjoyment...its purpose would be to fund things we aren't really doing anymore, like serious intensive biomedical and energy technology R&D, rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and bringing it up to modern quality, investing in new modern school buildings (you do know the average school in America is ~50years old and not even high-speed internet wired, right?), all of which would employ more Americans and serve to tighten up the labor market, which would mechanistically force wages higher as businesses are forced to compete for that labor.
+25 # brux 2014-07-03 20:57
You really don't get it and are so willing to just put your foot down fast and close your mind.

Raising the minimum wage to a living wage, universal single payer health care for all, free or subsidized universal education, maybe some housing and transpiration stipends - while at the same time taxing all income the same and making the tax schedule progressive would put things back on a feedback loop to equality and success.

It would take a while, but there are not quick fixes.
+61 # REDPILLED 2014-07-03 13:32
"Capitalism, when well managed, is the greatest social technology ever invented to create prosperity in human societies."

Well-managed or not, capitalism needs to constantly expand and create new customers and even new markets.

On a planet of finite resources, especially as water, the most important one, is threatened, capitalism is careening us all to extinction. "More! More! More!" only works if we have a few spare planet earths on hand. We don't. When the seas begin to rise, paddles will be more useful than pitchforks.
+16 # RMDC 2014-07-03 21:54
REDPILLED -- yes, you are right. What made Bezos a billionaire was just selling more and more crap to people and cheating his suppliers. He just increased the size of the trash dumps in the US.

Capitalism makes some people wealthy by producing waste. Waste is where the money is.

No capitalist will reform because it is the right thing to do or because of any pitchforks. They have the power of the most pervasive police on the planet to make sure there are no pitchforks aimed at them. But capitalism always crashes; its corruption and greed always lead to an economic crash. Soon there will be one they can't get out of or can't be bailed out of.
+6 # moonrigger 2014-07-04 21:37
I've so wanted to believe that "gentle" capitalists are capable of leveling the playing field for the 99%, but the fact is, capitalism is mostly about exploiting finite resources and human labor. Even if someone's managed to make money off an exciting idea, or even publishing their thoughts, it comes at the expense of something else we or our children need and will have to do without. Look how far we've slid into a very foreseeable oblivion in the past 250 years. We've pretty well painted ourselves into a corner, and if you've read Pierce's piece today, it's easy to see how we doomed ourselves, because our country wasn't merely founded by industrious hard workers, but by slave-owning plantation owners--exploit ing human beings, land, and trees, shipping it all over the known world and selling it for profit, and of course displacing or killing off Native Americans, and darn near every living thing that once inhabited it. I guess what I'm saying is, I don't think we can buy our way out of this one, but it would sure as hell make the final days easier on us if we weren't struggling for less than $15/hr!
+16 # anarchteacher 2014-07-03 13:51
If the "pitchfork" protesters were serious, they would be storming the Harold Pratt House, 58 E. 68th Street at Park Avenue, New York, NY (Headquart­ers of the Council on Foreign Relations) and the New York Fed, 33 Liberty Street, New York, NY.

But they won’t be led to confront the gods on Mount Olympus by their Judas goats and regime media shills. David Rockefelle­r, Pete Peterson, Warren Buffett, David Koch and Henry Kissinger might be held up from lunch at 21.

For both supporters and opponents of these protests who seek more incisive background in understand­ing what has been really going on behind-the­-sce nes with the Wall Street corporate and financial predatory elites, check out these two online items below:,%20Banks,%20and%20American%20Foreign%20Policy.pdf

“Wall Street, Banks, and American Foreign Policy,” by Murray N. Rothbard

“Marx’s Tea Party,” by Anthony Gregory

Both items “name names,” are forthright­, direct, and pull no punches.
+51 # wnappel 2014-07-03 14:01
Income inequality is easy to understand and demonize (along with members of the benefited class), but by itself,it really isn't the point. At the present stage of planetary population and resource extraction, capitalism can best expand outward more than upward (even if it does go upward), giving more people the benefits of the middle class. In this respect I agree with the writer, but this is not the whole story. The pitchforks come in when those not benefited perceive that the .1% has taken over the government, at which point they also perceive they have nothing to lose. Citizens United and its ilk have done great damage to the veil of legitimacy of our government. Those effectively controlling whole swaths of Congress cannot, apparently, resist tightening their hold. It is a risky policy to incur the wrath of people with nothing left to lose.
+32 # Disappointed 2014-07-03 14:07
Well said as far as it goes. But to a great extent the financial industry and other large players effectively control both parties, who continue to focus on social issues like pro and con as to abortion. And their grip is tightening every day - eg. Harris case by Supreme Court going after unions' right to collect from everyone they represent. We need to do much more quickly, or the pitchforks will still come even with higher minimum wage.
+9 # wnappel 2014-07-03 14:12
Agreed, I didn't attribute the problem to just one political party.
+40 # Lorraine B. 2014-07-03 14:14
I appreciate that the author took the time off from his yachting to write this article, truly. He makes many excellent points that I agree with. In fact his comment about buying just so many cars and pairs of pants reminded me of something that Andy Warhol said about a Coca-Cola, about it tasting the same to a rich and a poor man... But he really needs to enlist his fellow 1 percenters into the cause since they can decide to pay he higher wages he advocates (ala Henry Ford). They can decide that CEO compensation will be capped, and that profits will be used to increase worker benefits (and even stock dividends). It all sounds wonderful - until you get asked to write the check. So please Mr. Hanauer, how about a billionaire summit, where you remind them, you can't take it with you!
+12 # Rangzen 2014-07-03 14:36
Here! Here! Please do it!
+5 # Marlene 2014-07-03 15:56
"English reference books mention here, here only to note that it’s wrong."
+6 # Art947 2014-07-04 20:40
Quoting Lorraine B.:
... where you remind them, you can't take it with you!

You are missing the point that the 0.01% are also working to eliminate any inheritance taxes, so that while they may not be able to take their wealth with them, they will be able to make their offspring the next 0.001% and create an American aristocracy.
+27 # Gnome de Pluehm 2014-07-03 14:25
"So forget all that rhetoric about how America is great because of people like you and me and Steve Jobs. You know the truth even if you won’t admit it: If any of us had been born in Somalia or the Congo, all we’d be is some guy standing barefoot next to a dirt road selling fruit. It’s not that Somalia and Congo don’t have good entrepreneurs. It’s just that the best ones are selling their wares off crates by the side of the road because that’s all their customers can afford."

Heart of the argument.
+4 # brux 2014-07-03 20:59
I think that is about the heart of "half" of the argument ... there is the rule of law piece that Somalia is missing too.
0 # Robert S. Becker 2014-07-04 12:41
Terrific online monicker, one of the best I've seen.

R. Becker
RSN writer
+1 # bingers 2014-07-06 07:02
The irony of it all is that Somalia, on paper, is a Libertarian nirvana.
+25 # born1929 2014-07-03 14:34
At a rich man's funeral the question was asked, "How much did he leave"? .... The answer given, "All of it"
Stan Levin
+2 # AReber 2014-07-03 14:38
Yes, interesting piece. If anyone's interested, here's the deep message:
+11 # Nigeldp 2014-07-03 14:39
If Nick were to pay all those people who worked for him enough it would allow them to invest in their ideas. Who knows they might have more interesting ideas than, 'how to make more bucks' The point is not to use success as an entitlement to control others.
+19 # JetpackAngel 2014-07-03 14:53
Holy crap, one of our owners gets it.
+20 # dyannne 2014-07-03 14:55
Glad to know there's at least one .01%er with a logical and reasonable mind. I applaud Mr. Hanauer. The trick is to convince the others, who so far like the Koch brothers, seem intractable to any other way forward but to slurp up everything of any value anywhere, all the time. They are obviously slow learners and I don't think there's much time for schooling them before the pitchforks come out.
+24 # WallStWallFlowerGirl 2014-07-03 14:58
While I was put-off by his arrogance, the honesty of his words superseded that. If his fellow one percentiles start to follow there may be hope yet... but... that's a big "if."

We, the 99.99 percent, have to back up what he wrote: we must boycott egregious companies and vote out Congressional dinosaurs who clearly support allegiance to plutocracy and not democracy.

We also MUST stop putting irresponsible, arrogant, narcissistic, unappreciative and totally undeserving people in the sports and entertainment industries onto thrones of wealth & fame. STOP caring what "the Biebs" does & what Kardashians post- enough already! Their mega-rich lifestyles are ONLY there because the ONE PERCENT keeps them there!

It is our responsibility to educate as many people as we can within our power, to WAKE UP! Because unless the Kanyes and Gaggas and Beyonces are doing something tremendously altruistic with their gagillions every time they make more of it, what the F@^*% should we care about how they vacation? Why isn't just ONE of them helping to give water to the poor in Detroit? Why are our priorities in this poorly beat-up and decaying country all messed-up???
+14 # Cassandra2012 2014-07-03 15:08
Forget the pitchforks. This is 'Murrica, land of the unbridled , unregulated NRA and their folk ... I'd be more concerned with possible AKAs and sniper rifles from disgruntled vets who cannot find decent jobs ... and women who are tired of the undisguised hate and contempt of the Tealiban Repugs.....
+19 # jJLLA 2014-07-03 15:11
"The folks like us at the top have always told those at the bottom that our respective positions are righteous and good for all. Historically, we called that divine right."

I am sorry to inform Mr. Hanauer that this attitude is very much alive and well - AND at the bottom of much of today's financial woes. You have these ultra rich people (like our Hobby Lobby friends and much of the Tea Party) who buy into the concept that they are God's Elect. Leveling income inequality is "satanic" since God obviously gave THEM all this cash as a sign of his favor while the poor languish in misery as a sign of God's displeasure. It is obvious that God's Grace shines exclusively on the them.

Hobby Lobby's owners obviously think this: how else would a normal, sane American think that THEIR beliefs alone should count in the scheme of things? And just Google Ted Cruz's nutty father, who believes that Christians have been given dominion over this nation, are entitled to all of this country's wealth and have been chosen to lead it - he even stated that his son Ted was preordained to become His Most Gracious Christian King of The United States! (Hanauer should really look out for himself: when the church ruled, Jews and other religious minorities didn't fair too well.)

The 99% are angry not only at the financial situation and glum job prospects: but now we are seeing that religion is starting be used to knock us further down into the poverty pit.
+19 # jwb110 2014-07-03 15:52
Herbert Hoover, no matter how he has been vilified by history, reached out to his fellow 1%'ers and told them we could fix the economy after the 1929 Crash by investing as individuals and putting his money up first. Not a single member of the wealthy class offered a dime to help re-right the economy.

Good luck, Nick. ( I am still betting on the pitchforks.)
+15 # margpark 2014-07-03 15:53
I think Americans have gotten pretty sluggish about revolutions. Otherwise why have we not already revolted? Still I imagine things could get painful enough to cause us to revolt.
+1 # Kimc 2014-07-05 01:18
According to Saeculum Theory, the revolt will come sometime between now and 2026. Whenever the world changes major energy sources, the country who is the major world leader changes too. The old leader goes down because of a refusal to change over to the new way. too many rich leaders are invested in the old regime to let it change.
+6 # davidh7426 2014-07-03 16:07
I've realised that I don't like people talking down to me, not even a little bit...

I don't like people telling me that my place is at the bottom of the ladder, while theirs is naturally at the top, where some passing deity has ordained that they should be.

And I would like to remind those people who are at the top of the ladder, that it's the little people that are holding that ladder up, and without us, that ladder falls, and it's a long and hard trip down.

And I would personally like to remind Nick Hanauer...

Stop being so damned sanctimonious and self-righteous. .. You breath like us, you bleed like us, and when money becomes worthless, YOU'LL STARVE LIKE US !!!


My apologise for the rant... The way he talked, put my back up, he may have been incredibly lucky, but he's still human, not some deity sent messenger.
+30 # Buddha 2014-07-03 16:36
"And so I have a message for my fellow filthy rich, for all of us who live in our gated bubble worlds: Wake up, people. It won’t last."

I think they already get this. Which is why our police forces are getting militarized with hardcore weaponry and armored vehicles and drones (which can still carry missiles), laws are being written where someone can be detained indefinitely without habeas corpus simply on the government's accusation that they are "supporting terrorism", etc. Seems to me that the Oligarchs are more prepared for the time when the plebs do pick up the pitchforks than the plebs themselves are...
+20 # Buddha 2014-07-03 16:45
Great we have one Plutocrat who recognizes there is a problem, but ironic that he doesn't recognize the he himself is PART of the problem. One word: AMAZON. How many small businesses and brick-and-morta r bookstores have shut down because they can't compete against of a MegaCompany like Amazon, which gained a competitive advantage in part by not charging state sales taxes on online purchases? How many less employees does Amazon's website and few distribution centers employ versus the number of employees who lost their jobs at mom-and-pop businesses on Main St. who couldn't compete? While online shopping is easy, convenient, and often cheaper, let's not pretend that there aren't economic consequences of the shift away from brick-and-morta r businesses that employ people. Further, money spent in those local mom-and-pop businesses went primarily back into the local economy...versu s Amazon, or MegaRetailers like WalMart, where money spent there mostly goes OUT of the local economy and up into the coffers of Oligarch shareholders who don't live where their businesses are located.

Sorry, but while I am 100% for a liveable minimum wage, a higher minimum wage alone is like slapping a band-aid on a sucking chest wound.
+8 # Urbancurmudgeon 2014-07-03 17:17
Loved this column. Probably because it almost exactly reflects my June 8,2014 blog (no title) in Urbancurmudgeon .com Ford really knew what he was doing and so do you. The functional solution to a failing economy is to raise wages out of the poverty zone and put purchasers back in the middle class.
0 # bingers 2014-07-06 07:09
Quoting Urbancurmudgeon:
Loved this column. Probably because it almost exactly reflects my June 8,2014 blog (no title) in Ford really knew what he was doing and so do you. The functional solution to a failing economy is to raise wages out of the poverty zone and put purchasers back in the middle class.

Sorry, Ford was dead set against raising the pay of his employees, but he had a partner and a wife who forced him to do it. Like any far right winger, which he was, when it turned out to work better than anyone had thought possible, he did the typical wing nut thing, took credit for it. And history has fallen for the false story instead of publishing the facts.
+14 # ahollman 2014-07-03 18:13
3 problems, some that other brought up.

1) Changing income taxation would make a major difference. Change the rules so that the proportion of income paid in taxes rises with income. When I started working, the marginal rate of taxation rose gradually with each additional thousand of income. Now we have large blocks of income taxed at 10, 15, 28, 35 and 39%, with exceptions for the wealthy. Bring it back to gradual increases. Get rid of many deductions.

2) Ultimately, the only gains available to share are those due to increases in output and productivity. Those gains used to be distributed more equally; now they go almost entirely to the top. Let's have a more even distribution.

3) For all his Hanauer's defemse of capitalism, it relies on continuous growth and expansion of economic activity, punctuated by periodic contractions. Ecologically, on a planet with finite resources and upper pollution limits that we're already transcending (e.g. CO2), that is unsustainable. We need a form a capitalism that does not rely on continuous, long-term growth, that manages to work in a steady state.

Even Hanauer doesn't acknowledge this, much less solve it. We'd be in a far better position if we had already solved problems #1 and #2 above, so that we could turn attention to #3. However, we've squadered the decades of warnings we've had, and now must solve #3 along with #1 and #2.

My comments are informed by "The Limits to Growth", published in the early 70's. I recommend it.
+1 # arquebus 2014-07-03 18:18
The world changes. It is true that Amazon has put lots of smaller companies out of business because they could deliver products faster, more efficiently and cheaper. When Henry Ford replaced wooden spoked wheels on his cars with pressed steel, who knows how many wheelwright artisans were put out of work because their skills were no longer needed.
For that matter, I wonder how many Budweiser teamsters were put out of work when Bud started delivering beer in Ford trucks instead of by horse drawn wagons.

Technology both creates and destroys job. Not surprisingly, it will be Amazon that is plowed under someday by another Bezos who comes up with a better idea.
+6 # EmilyCragg 2014-07-03 18:40
Thank you for speaking a truth that your rich friends don't want to hear.

Emily Elizabeth Windsor
+2 # brux 2014-07-03 21:04
I can really understand the desire to get rich, even if you don't want to work hard - everyone wants to have a good life, but lots of people seem to think they are getting richer when they extend that into kicking away the ladder to let other people enjoy their lives, or even live without constant struggle and misery - that I don't get.
+1 # Buddha 2014-07-04 10:27
Yes, you don't get it...because you believe the false meme of "if you are poor, it is because you don't work hard". Our working poor are working far harder than you are, they just aren't being paid a decent wage for doing so. You go pick tomatoes in the hot sun for 10+hours a day, then lets see you talk smack.
-2 # brux 2014-07-04 17:28
You seem to have no idea what I wrote ... why are you so bound and determined to make yourself sound stupid and unpleasant?
+2 # Buddha 2014-07-05 09:47
Huh? Let me quote: "I can really understand the desire to get rich, even if you don't want to work hard". Question: who were you aiming that comment at? If you were aiming it at the Capital Class, for whom their WEALTH does the work for them, then you would be correct. But in that case, can you perhaps look again at your statement, which lacked any such qualifier, and perhaps understand why someone could see it as an attack on the American working class, and themselves see that as very unpleasant? Especially given how we constantly hear this exact refrain from certain folks, the "if you are poor, blame yourself, you must be lazy" GOP/Oligarch meme? Sorry, but American workers certainly don't expect to "get rich [without having to] work hard", quite the opposite, as the American Dream is essentially that through hard work one can get ahead and build wealth. The unfortunate truth is that this no longer really exists in America, the working class still works harder here than in any developed nation, and yet we have the lowest economic mobility of any OECD nation.
0 # brux 2014-07-05 19:02
> then you would be correct.

Thanks, I was and I am.

> understand why someone could see it as an attack on the American working class,

Only someone who did not read the whole comment and made lazy assumptions such as yourself.
+1 # tabonsell 2014-07-03 19:07
Yet, a solution to this inequality is out there and virtually ignored by people who might make a difference.

Try reading "Saving America: Using Democratic Capitalism to Rescue the Nation from Economic Folly" (Algora Publishing of New York City) where a detailed plan is laid out that makes the system fairer for all without the use of pitchforks, or other tools of persuasion.
+2 # moonrigger 2014-07-04 21:58
didn't Jane Fonda try that, having her workout clothing line all made in America? Think even though lots of folks wanted to support this idea, when push came to shove, they purchased based on price, not ideals. WalMart figured this out a long time ago...Americans are willing to live with more lower quality goods tha fewer high quality goods that cost more. (Also why junk is piling up in our homes, and then overfilling our landfills)...
+4 # brux 2014-07-03 20:53
I like this guy, he has a reasonable fair point of view on what is happening in the country and the economy.

He had a section in the Robert Reich movie "Inequality For All" and did a very good job presenting his ideas ... I sure wish there were more Americans who thought like him.
-5 # 2014-07-03 20:59
Rever My Godot today 9.45 am to know just how wrong you Yankees are?
American self glorifying "Exceptionalist "was a 1910 USA Communist Party Platform
+5 # m... 2014-07-03 21:00

We just spent the last 30 years Reaganomic-ing the NEW DEAL Government to death because…?

+4 # Buddha 2014-07-05 09:55
Because Reagan was able to frame these programs as taking taxes from hard-working white people and handing free money to black "welfare queens" and "young bucks" who don't want to work. The Oligarchy, through their GOP puppets, successfully got the white working class to dismantle the very programs that were helping them, by getting that white working class to hate the brown/black working class more than the Capital Class that is enriched through working class impoverishment, while the Oligarchs sat back, enjoyed lower and lower taxes and higher and higher wealth, and laughed into their champagne flutes at pleb stupidity. And that very same "Southern Strategy" race-baiting continues to this day, quite successfully too.
-1 # brux 2014-07-05 19:06
I see you do not get what a "rhetorical" question is. You feel what is needed are more of your popping in for no reason with simpleminded explanations of what you imagine the point or someone else's comment to be about ... why don't you just stick to making your own comments if you can manage one or is reading and understanding an entire article just not your style ... Buddha ... what a joke.
+4 # RMDC 2014-07-03 21:32
I just find this Nick guy to be a real asshole. He just does not understand that the money that made him and Jeff Bezos billionaires was not created by them and their self-worship. It was created by all the 1000s of underpaid workers who produced Amazon's product, by all the local bookstores driven out of business by Amazon, by all the small publishers driven out of business by Amazon.

Compaines like Amazon are parasites or cannibals. They steal from others and so does the .01%. No one needs this asshole's smug pseudo wisdom. He can go stick a pitchfork up his own ass. No one is going to honor him by sticking a pitchfork in him. No one cares about him. He is just a part of a corrupt and inhuman system called capitalism. someday it will pass just like feudalism did.
+6 # btraven 2014-07-04 17:26
RMDC The more I think about this article the more I see your repulsion is well taken. This guy does indeed live in a bubble. He wants us to believe he "understands" because he once sold pillows. Yeah, out of his father's factory. How many of us has built a secure future with no factory owner as a father?
Mr. Hanauer seems to be under the delusion that his support of raising the minimum wage will get him to heaven. We may appreciate his efforts and acknowledge that we are headed for pitchforks but the solution will never come from a change of heart in the 1%. His statement reeks of smugness and self satisfaction.
Many wealthy people generously support causes that speak truth to power in opposing the causes of our country's turn to authoritarianis m, not because they fear revolt but because they love democracy. They stay silent about their wealth.
Now that we know him I would like to hear how he feels about our perpetual wars, our support of for profit schools over public schools,single payer health care, bloated military budgets, and illegal spying on our citizenry by our so called "intelligence" apparatus. Have a go at it Mr. H.!Than we will know you better than by your yachts and planes and houses.
+1 # moonrigger 2014-07-04 22:11
RMDC: I think some of the original concepts were good at Amazon--to be able to connect sellers of used books to buyers of used books, and provide the sellers with a simple platform for doing business, taking only a small percentage in the process. Unfortunately, as with most successful ventures, no one could have foreseen the effect it would have on all brick-and-morta r bookstores. Businesses have a way of taking on a life of their own, which is why they are known as "entities"...

Just like Sam Walton had no idea what his original idea would burgeon into, neither did Bezos, or, say, Ben and Jerry. Some successful entrepreneurs sell their businesses off once they realize where they're headed; others choose to ride it out. Then they might end up becoming way too rich, and own way too much. Some, though, finally realize that things get out of hand when your possessions start to possess you. There are only so many hours in a day you can devote to enjoying your wealth. The rest of the time, you're having to manage it and protect it. This is why I can't understand why the superwealthy don't just give it away. Very few do, but there are some who realize the value of what they have, and what it can do to help others.
-4 # cordleycoit 2014-07-03 22:22
Living in Third World America has it's advantages. One of which we don't have to put up with smart asses from the coast. They avoid flyover like the plague spot it can be. Being third World we get the poisonous ideas and rotten healthcare. Our children get to fight for brand names in places hostile to the ideas of Libertarians and the mean rich. The Tea Party make more head way here than the Boulder Stazi with their Obama bots, and their illegals working for fiver dollars an hour. We find that anything that pushes the panic button with the techies , who offer us diets of insects and hemp oil as a good thing. Leftoid humor is theater of cruelty run by the rich (who owns Lincoln Center.?) And we must remember that concept of Left-Right comes from "The government of the Tennis Court."
+5 # mim 2014-07-03 22:25
My fear is that Americans don't know how to carry out a revolution, and are too easily discouraged. And I speak for myself too - it takes one to know one.

Look what happened after the killings at Kent State.
+1 # moonrigger 2014-07-04 22:24
Interesting comment, Mim. I feel a certain amount of guilt for not having more courage, yet I'm also old enough to realize that every revolution comes at such a great cost to the innocent--and rarely rectifies the original problems it was meant to fix. It seems the lust for power takes over, and then the people suffer for years while factions duke it out. I think it would take a lot more suffering than what we've seen so far to galvanize people enough to fight for change. The wealthy have seen to it that most everyone can have a TV and cell phone, and this keeps their minds off of the obvious. And with the right, they've managed to exploit religion to keep the poor from using their voting power to effect real change. Things may come to a head sooner than later, but I still wish things could be worked at at the ballot box or town hall meetings. If you check out YouTube once in awhile, you'll notice that there are scads of people of all ages and political persuasions preparing for armed conflict. They are quietly building bullet-proof shelters, arming themselves, sharing lore about survival skills, and becoming more self-sufficient . All good things, but it tells me that they're more than concerned about what might be coming down the pike.
+11 # btraven 2014-07-03 22:50
"The model for us rich guys here should be Henry Ford, who realized that all his autoworkers in Michigan weren’t only cheap labor to be exploited; they were consumers, too."

Mr. H. You better bone up on the history of this country. Henry Ford was no model we want to follow. He was a vicious anti union employer using thugs to beat up union organizers, a virulent anti Semite, and an admirer of Fascist Germany.
The minimum wage is a "symptom" of the fundamental problems in this country, not a "cause".
Funding perpetual wars, a skewed tax system which favors the rich,an education policy which defunds public education in favor of 'for profit' schools, and trade policies that ship domestic jobs overseas are some of the causes that contribute to our parsimonious policy on raising the minimum subsistence wage.
RSN readers would be interested in your position on these "causes" before a full pat on the back for your position on the minimum wage.

WW II veteran and first generation
American. Not a .01%er but a 10%er who made it with the governments help in the GI Bill and as a union steel worker while getting my graduate degree.
-14 # Juiceguy 2014-07-04 07:26
Raising the minimum wage makes it unlikely that business owners will hire teenagers, so our youngsters will not gain real work experience. This is already happening and will get worse the higher you raise the minimum wage. Presently we are raising generations of citizens who have never had a real job, never had to be to work on time and actually work for their money. If we do not address this problem, we will not have the "workers" the large and small businesses need, only a citizenry adept at living off the government dole. Does that mean that I am for child labor? Yes!
+1 # moonrigger 2014-07-04 22:44
We've always been handed this myth that raising the minimum wage will result in a terrible decline in teenage employment. Not so, because it will raise the level of the pond for all workers. The entry-level positions will always be filled by the young. And, as always, teenagers will be earning a lot of money under the table. Don't discount teenager's creativity, either. A lot of them learn early how to become entrepreneurs, and work at this until they gather enough experience to get better paying jobs, or else earn enough to pay for their education. I know it's way harder now, but many are rising to the challenge.
0 # RLF 2014-07-08 05:00
In the 60's and 70's the minimum wage was proportionally much higher and I was working. You're buying the same crap arguments. The only reason they might not is that they can hire illegals for less. That is why the illegals are here and the jobs they take are the ones we did as kids...learning a work ethic I don't see many of today's kids having. I'll get the pitchforks now! Heresy for a lefty to say illegals have to be stopped...thoug h I think it needs to be from the employers side...caught hiring an a $10,00.00 fine each. Three times...go to jail. Put the real problem people in jail not poor immigrants.
+10 # VictorG 2014-07-04 08:17
The great German leftist writer wrote a very clear answer to this nonsense, which I have translated as best I could:
A rich man and a poor man, there they stood, And judged each other as best they could. The poor man said, his voice at low pitch, If I were not poor you’d not be rich. Brecht

I'm afraid we need "the pitchforks". Let us hope they will never be violent ones! They need never be, if the 0.1 percent bow to democracy and the will of the aroused voters!
+8 # davidh7426 2014-07-04 09:09
Quoting VictorG:
...They need never be, if the 0.1 percent bow to democracy and the will of the aroused voters!

They haven't up to now, and I doubt that they will, though there's always a first time...

But even trying as hard as I can, I can't recall ever hearing of such a time as that where the rich voluntarily give up what's required of them, for the common good, and to equalise society. They usually require force...

The French revolution being a possible example.
0 # Kimc 2014-07-05 01:40
you are right that the powerful never give up their power voluntarily, but a revolution, and upheaval of some sort is necessary for change. I think there is a way to avoid major violence, but even if there is a violent revolution, it won't work unless we have a good idea of what we want to replace the present regime with. the American Revolution succeeded because the colonies already had local governments the colonists could run democratically.
I beleive what we must do is to make an end-run around the corporations and the super-rich and make our own separate economy based on worker-owned, democratically run businesses based on "job ecology" -- that is, the primary purpose for the business is to make good jobs, rather than fat profits. It only needs to break even to do that. No stock markets though, because that drives the evils of capitalism.
0 # bingers 2014-07-06 07:19
However, 2/3 of the top 1% agree that their taxes should be raised. But the 33% of them spend literally billions buying politicians.

I'd back a law requiring politicians would be required to abstain from any vote that helped any business or businessman who gave them funding, under penalty of life imprisonment.
+2 # Meriam 2014-07-04 10:26
Thank you for your assessment of where we are headed. I agree with you, this kind of inequality cannot last. I totally agree that the best road to restoring our middle class is to pay workers a decent wage. That's not a hand-out, it is common sense!
+4 # EmilyCragg 2014-07-04 11:30
Jesus said to the rich man, give away your riches and follow me (as one of the Poor). I did that when I chose to care for my mother instead of pursue my career in industry. I have never regretted that decision, Buddha.

You can always walk away from it, give it bit-by-bit to deserving and needy individuals who show promise to know what to do with it; and then you are free to be who you are and live by human and not commercial values.

God bless you.

Emily Windsor-Cragg
+4 # geraldom 2014-07-04 12:31
I don't think that the Plutocrats are in any danger of being overthrown. The United States has one of the best well trained military in the world and the best well trained national guard organization in the world, and the best well trained militarized police force in the world, all with the best crowd control and killing equipment in the world, all ready and willing without any hesitation to crush any American rebellion against a tyrannical and corrupt U.S. government.

I think they are safe, don't you?
+3 # Blackjack 2014-07-04 12:44
The author makes good points and I applaud his courage in openly addressing his cronies with these statements, even if all he's doing is trying to save himself. Many of the comments are also instructive. I would add the following:

First, Americans collectively abhor risk (even though individually, people like the author, willingly take risk). Changing our collective mentality about where we are and what we need to do to make improvements would incur great personal risk. Risk makes us fearful, causing us to look to Heaven for answers. As much as our society already does this, we could morph into becoming fully Christian Taliban. Look at the present Supreme Court to see how close we are to that now. Fear also incites violence. How can we get much more violent as a society without another Civil War type event? Maybe we could have a real "revolution" without violence, but I'm skeptical.

Second, even if we can save capitalism, our planet cannot sustain the growth that is necessary for it to exist. Excess growth is partly why we are where we are today. It's why we have polluted our planet and subjugated our workers to the point of making them poor.

If positive change is to occur, it will have to come from leadership that has been pushed into accepting that position by a populace that is sick of the status quo. That means US--pushing and prodding our political leadership at every possible turn into taking that kind of risk. Short of violence, I don't see another way.
-3 # aliciad012 2014-07-04 14:32
It's to late to save this country. The middle class has been gone for a while. That's why the housing market crashed. People were trying to live the American dream. With out the means. While you .1% already messed up and sent most of our middle class paying jobs over seas so most of your group could save a few bucks. The government gave your group that loop hole wanting your group to take the
bait. It's all part of the big plan the gov wants our economy to crash. It's all part of the big picture of the new world order . The government wants us to stay poor so we become defensless and keep us under thier aid so we depend on them. can you say masterrrr. Lol I don't you have to worry about pitch forks coming after you. Because your probably a free mason and you'll make it to the under ground bunkers to be safe. While the rest of us have a civil war between us. Notice the media is putting out a lot of segregation propaganda. I think I'm done now lol
+2 # Quickmatch 2014-07-04 15:03
"Some inequality is intrinsic to any high-functionin g capitalist economy."

Some is also intrinsic to any economy I have ever heard of. The choice is not the type of economy; the choice is how to handle the inequality and the concurrent suffering in the lower part of the equality curve. And a major issue in deaing with the suffering is that people at the upper reaches can not or will not consider doing without what they have available to help those who haven't enough. So, I say take a bunch of it: the suffering of a billion dollar a year 0.0001 percenter in losing a half billion dollars doesn't approach that of an out of work botton 50 percenter in any manner of valuation.
+2 # JoeMcGooghan 2014-07-05 11:34
I recently brought my pitchfork into my house, and it's now very handy, leaning against the wall behind my front door. I won't use it unless I absolutely have to, but when the screaming mobs gather outside in the street, I will know I have no choice and I'll have to join them.
+2 # Group_Capt_Lionel_Mandrake 2014-07-05 23:58
Well, well. Basically, I don't believe in "heroes." And we don't need any "self-made rich guys" telling us how to live or who is great. We want to work fewer hours and have a life. You think you fat cats know how to live? I've known plenty of rich people and none of them knew anything about living.
+2 # bingers 2014-07-06 06:56
The pitchforks will come out when conservatives finally wake up and realize that their heroes have been screwing them royally since time immemorial.
0 # Georgist 2014-07-06 12:32
Nick's robust arguments and reasonable presentation makes a great stride away from the cliffs edge of economic chaos, corporate feudalism and disaster for human habitat. His message should be shouted far and wide with the awareness that much, much, much more change must soon follow.

Legislating a wage floor, however, really benefits the very, very rich more than the wage earners. It does little to check to the systemic greed which is rapidly locking corporate feudalism into place. If living wages are passively accepted as a gift from powers that be perhaps wage earners deserve to live in powerless serfdom. If basic living wages are used to increase citizen responsibility and education perhaps democratic government can be reborn. Dare we consider that our action or inaction does not make the difference?

The essential action, imo, proposed is to restrict the use of money in politics. (Money is a megaphone that drowns out free speech.) And to allow corporations and unions to be closely regulated by the government that created them. Artificial entities like corporations and artificial devices such as money must be curbed to serve people and not empowered to enslave people.

After an appropriate amendment such as House Joint Resolution 29 written by the most impactful correction can be made according to the tax reforms prescribed in 1879 by Henry George and elucidated in 2005 by Bob Drake.
+1 # pimpkin 2014-07-07 10:11
I am on board with the main points of Hanauer's piece -- We have record wealth inequality in the U.S.; living wages don't destroy jobs but rather create them; Republicans and Democrats can't see the forest for the trees; things could get ugly if this continues. That just about sums it up in less than 40 words.
Hanauer takes nearly 4,000 words to make those points however, because he can't stop dropping names, bragging about the "obscene" rewards of his success and trumpeting the extraordinary foresight that allowed him to amass his fortune and the extraordinary insight that allows him to recognize the dangers of continuing down the road to greater inequality.
He asks, "Am I really SUCH A (emphasis mine) superior person?" Why "such a"? Why not simply, "Am I superior person?" Because he believes he IS a superior person. He's vastly richer than the 99% and a visionary among all the other 1%ers, who are so tragically blind and naive. What a prick.
This article masquerades as a logical rationale for greater wealth equality, but it's really just the 3,600-word ego masturbation of a smug over-privileged jerk.
I looked on Amazon and You can get a pretty decent pitchfork on either site for around $30 (about four hours work at the federal minimum wage). And I discovered that another name for pitchfork is "manure fork." I thought that was pretty funny. If any would-be revolutionaries ever get serious about digging out the shit, perhaps they should start with Hanauer.
0 # LAellie33 2014-07-27 01:36
Nick Hanauer is a hero to the Middle Class and Americans in general! A man of decency, of great moral content. Thank you, Mr. Hanauer.

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