age of greed

“We’ve allowed finance to dominate the American economy and the world economy as a consequence.

When finance dominates an economy, it begins, I think it’s become quite clear, to play games among themselves to make money…It becomes paper shuffling.”

Republicans in a picture:

  • top 1%: 8% in 1979 to 17% in 2007, more than doubling
  • next 19%: 35% in 1979, 36% in 2007, barely changed
  • middle 60%: 50% in 1979, 43% in 2007, down 7 points
  • poorest 20%: down 2 points, from 7% to 5%

Former economics editor at the New York Times, Jeff Madrick is easy to listen to, easy to read:

The top 1 percent pay federal income taxes at a rate of 23 percent.

If we raised it to their rate only ten years ago, we’d collect about $100 billion a year. If we reversed the Bush tax cuts on those who make $250,000 a year, we’d raise about $830 billion over ten years. If we reversed all the tax cuts, including on the middle class, which I’d favor, we’d raise about $3.5 trillion over ten years.

We have plenty of taxing capacity to take care of our needs.

We simply refuse to act as a modern nation, driven by myths that we can somehow return to the simplicity of colonial America.

We are still being told that greed is good.

“…contrary to the claims of some analysts, the federally regulated mortgage agencies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, were not central causes of the crisis. Rather, private financial firms on Wall Street and around the country unambiguously and overwhelmingly created the conditions that led to catastrophe.

“Yet thus far, federal agencies have launched few serious lawsuits against the major financial firms that participated in the collapse, and not a single criminal charge has been filed against anyone at a major bank. The federal government has been far more active in rescuing bankers than prosecuting them.”

Age of Greed …the single-minded pursuit of huge personal wealth has been on the rise in the United States since the 1970s, led by a few individuals who have argued that self-interest guides society more effectively than community concerns.

These stewards of American capitalism have insisted on the central and essential place of accumulated wealth through the booms, busts, and recessions of the last half century, giving rise to our current woes.

…these politicians, economists, and financiers who declared a moral battle for freedom but instead gave rise to an age of greed, Madrick traces the lineage of some of our nation’s most pressing economic problems.

The men whose ideas were responsible for our current economic problems.
C-Span Video Library.

More than day-to-day media will tell you.

Which do you trust more: democracy or financial markets?

Americans weren’t really consulted. It was an inside job.

As a result, Wall Street has prospered but the rest of the nation hasn’t. One out of four homeowners is underwater, owing more on their homes than the homes are worth.

And with the worst economy since the Great Depression, we’re now embarking on fiscal austerity. Either Congress’s super-committee comes up with $1.2 trillion of federal budget cuts that Congress agrees to – going into effect a little over thirteen months from now – or $1.5 trillion of cuts are made across the board. Meanwhile, states and cities have been slashing public services for the past three years.

So which is it? Rule by democracy or by financial markets?