Sunday, May 16, 2004

Politics and the concentration of wealth

Title: Nader's advice to Kerry
Source: William Raspberry in the Washington Post
Date: May 11, 2004

William Raspberry is a syndicated columnist for the Washington Post. The article is a recent column of his, and what is so interesting is that nearly all of the advice in it is related in one way or the other to the concentration of wealth. For example:
  • "Democrats have become... too indentured to the same money the Republicans are dialing for. Kerry's consultants and handlers are telling him to tone it down, and he has." Campaign contributions from the wealthy really do affect candidates, in this case causing Kerry to edit what he says to avoid offending the wealthy donors providing all of his campaign cash.
  • "the issue isn't redistributing wealth in the old-fashioned sense but stopping the redistribution that's already going on through corporate welfare." This redistribution through corporate welfare is a primary vehicle for concentrating wealth.
  • "Kerry should propose a living wage — and act as though he means it. Huge numbers of Americans — 10 million households — earn less than $10,000 a year. Those workers would be substantially better off if the minimum wage had simply been indexed for inflation — "like congressional salaries" — over the last 35 years." If Wal-Mart, for example, paid a living wage instead of concentrating wealth, a million families would be much better off.
  • "Go after corporate crime. 'This would attract a lot of conservatives to his cause — certainly as many as there are Reagan Democrats. I'm talking about people whose 401(k)s have been destroyed by what Enron and the others have done through corporate greed.'" See for example this post on Enron.
  • "Repeal the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. The prospective yield turns out to be "almost exactly what the American Society of Civil Engineers said last year it would take to restore America's deteriorating infrastructure" — roads and bridges, schools, libraries, water and sewer systems, public buildings."
  • "Protect the poor. Low-income Americans have no legal protection for many of their ordinary transactions — either because the appropriate legislation hasn't been enacted or because of "a congealed lawlessness that goes unprosecuted." Nader's list includes check-cashing businesses for people who don't have access to bank accounts, tax-refund loans at usurious rates, rent-to-own schemes, dumping of tainted meat and shoddy merchandise in inner-city outlets, bank redlining and all manner of predatory lending." See, for example, this post on bank fees targeted directly at the poor.
  • Kerry should demand reform of a tax code that taxes work more than it taxes wealth... and support a reversal of policies that 'make it almost impossible to form a union in the private sector any more.'"
The reason so many of Raspberry's proposals deal with the concentration of wealth is because the concentration of wealth is having such a large effect on normal Americans today. If these proposals were enacted, tens of millions of Americans would be better off.

You must ask yourself: Why will it be so hard to enact proposals that would help tens of millions of Americans? Because the concentration of wealth also is a concentration of power, and that power is nearing the point where it is unstoppable.


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