On February 7th, I wrote a post titled America’s Mood: Eat the Rich. I really appreciated the conversation and comments on that post. It’s only been a four months, but it seems like this “mood” is only intensifying. I realize my social feeds may just be showing me this stuff because the AI can tell I’m interested, but here’s some of what I’ve seen lately:
-On Saturday night, Elizabeth Warren held a Town Hall meeting here in Oakland (pictured above). They first had it scheduled in a small auditorium, but there was so much interest they moved it to a baseball field at Laney College (one of our local community colleges — Ralph takes classes there). It was a free event. We arrived about 30 mins before the event was supposed to start and the line was over a mile long! There were over 6500 people! The Warren team wanted to make sure everyone had a chance to get on the field, so the event started late — but it was worth the wait.
She covered a variety of topics, giving overviews of her many (thorough!) plans, and she also talked about how she would fund the initiatives: a two-cent tax on the ultra wealthy. Here’s how she explained it would work: For every dollar over $50 million, so starting with the fifty million and first dollar ($50,000,001), the tax would be 2 cents, and 2 cents for every dollar over that. She said it would be like a homeowner’s property tax, but “include the diamonds, the stock portfolios, the Rembrandts, and the yachts.”
Her justification for the tax is that every company who has made it big, did so because of programs funded by all of us — like public schools, and our bridges and roads. She said, “You make it big? Good for you! That’s great. Fabulous that you made it big. But pitch in two cents so everybody else gets a chance to make it in this country.”
This two cent tax on the ultra wealthy would provide enough funds to pay for universal childcare, universal pre-k, free college, student loan forgiveness, and a whole bunch of other good stuff.
As you can imagine, the crowd in attendance thought this sounded really good, and very fair.
-Abigail Disney, the granddaughter of Disney co-founder said that the compensation of current Disney CEO, Bob Iger, is insane. She likes Bob Iger and thinks he’s a good CEO, but his compensation is 1,424 times that of the median Disney employee, and she thinks that is ultimately harmful.
-After that article came out, she wrote a Twitter thread on the subject and it’s really good. She goes into bonuses, what a living wage means, and why offering educational opportunities for employees isn’t as good as it sounds. Definitely worth a read.
-Abigail Disney is not alone in her thinking. Forbes agrees with herthat when CEOs earn so much more than their employees that it can have a corrosive effect.
-Related fun fact I read in this New Times article: A half-century ago, a top automobile executive named George Romney — yes, Mitt’s father — turned down several big annual bonuses. He did so, he told his company’s board, because he believed that no executive should make more than $225,000 a year (which translates into almost $2 million today).
-The Current Affairs Editor in Chief debunked the myth that global capitalism lifts all boats.
–This tweet + source article. IBM got a $342 million dollar tax refund. Amazon got $129 million. All because of the new tax plan that lowered corporate tax rates. $4.3 BILLION went to corporate tax refunds. (But we need to cut social security and not raise minimum wages?)
–A response to the above tweet. It’s been said before: the rich want socialism for big business and big finance, and capitalism for everyone else.
-Welcome to southwest Connecticut, where the gap between rich and poor is wider than anywhere else in the country. This separation is by design.
-A 2015 address of Elizabeth Warren talking about housing as a means to build wealth and how this helped build America’s middle class, but an entire legal system was built to ensure Black people were excluded. There’s video and transcript — if you watch the video it starts getting into it around minute 16.
-“You judge me for having children, for needing assistance. You hate me for wanting the stability you take for granted. You force me to perform to prove my worth. Then you still deny me access to fair, affordable housing.”
-Maybe only tangentially related, but I can feel the frustration from people who suspect that the way their taxes are being allocated is corrupt, when I read articles like this: The architect of GOP gerrymandering also engineered the strategy for a citizenship question the current administration is trying to put on the census, in order to rig it and manipulate where spending goes.
Your turn. What do you think of the Romney quote about limiting a CEOs income? What are your thoughts when I suggest that the current American mood is “eat the rich”? Do you feel like you’ve witnessed a similar sentiment?
Do you think the idea of a two-cent-per-dollar tax on income over $50 million is unfair? Or do you feel the ultra wealthy are currently under-taxed compared to the rest of the population, so that a two-cent tax would just mean that the ultra wealthy are simply paying their fair share?