Saturday, September 24, 2011

The poverty of affluence

That phrase has been around at least since the '70's; I took my first undergrad courses that decade and I remember it still. Every few years another learned book or scholarly article comes along that borrows the same words. Why are we impoverished by affluence but not enriched by poverty? Something to ponder.

Spent a beautiful late summer afternoon in Southampton. Strolled the beach and part of the main drag. At one point I was caught in the draft behind a gaggle of yuppie-type women pushing high-dollar prams. When my children were pram age we called them strollers, and if you couldn't access a hand-me-down (and hand-me -downs are plentiful -after all, most children have outgrown them after three or four years) your nearest mall had lots on offer for around twenty bucks.

The strollers I saw today were a different breed. Springs. Shock absorbers. Ipod docks. Satellite navigation systems. Clearly, these are strollers for parents who love their children more than I loved mine. I saw strollers today that cost more than the car I drove home in.

If you've been following the news lately you'll know it's all bad. The sky is for sure gonna fall any minute. There is a worldwide crisis in consumer confidence. That's what's causing the sky to fall. Too few people buying too little crap.

The other night the No-spin Network was telling me that a mere .22 percent of taxpayers were paying 21% of all income takes in America. The thrust of their argument was thus; obviously the rich are paying far more than their share, so give them a break already again.

Hmmm. I would suggest a different conclusion. You need to make at least a million a year to be in that .22 percent (by chance this is the same number as the calibre of gun I shoot squirrels with. Coincidence?)  You pay roughly 200-250 thou in taxes (I'm being generous here - I defy you to show me anyone earning a million who pays 25% of it in income taxes. The loopholes are there for a reason.) I say, get the top .22 to pay double what they pay now. Let them pay 42% of all taxes. They'd still take home ten times more in a year than the average American family. And it would be a generous patriotic gesture on their part. Deficits gone overnight. They could even keep their corporate bail-outs and their wars!

Then we could perhaps eliminate all income taxes for the bottom 50% of wage-earners. More money left over to buy more crap. The economy would hum once again. The American Dream would rise from the dead.

Think about it, rich folks. America's future hangs in the balance.

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