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Collins is a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, where he directs the Program on Inequality and the Common Good . He is an expert on issues of economic inequality and taxation, and co-author of several other books including: Economic Apartheid in America: A Primer on Economic Inequality and Insecurity (New Press, 2005, with Felice Yeskel) and The Moral Measure of the Economy (Orbis, 2007, with Mary Wright), about Christian ethical perspectives on the economy.
Class, inequality, wealth, Ayn Rand, libertarianism
The issue I look at is how we've become more unequal, how we reverse these unequalitties.
My hope is that people are starting to wake up. Is this the kind of society we want to have
And more people are starting to say no. We don't want to see our middle class implode, we don't want to let wealth get concentrated more.
Polls are showing
We have as a society a pretty good tolerance for inequality-- wealthwise
Since 2008 more people are saying that the game is rigged for millionaires and corporations.
what about my idea to debillionairize the planet--
There's greater awareness that the 1000 or so billionaires are not good for the rest of us.
Taxes on the wealthy have gone down while taxes on the rest of us have gone up.
low cost access to education, home ownership, a society that works for everybody not just the super rich.
Rebuilding the American dream movement. People are getting together and saying, What's happening to the middle class, why is under assault, shrinking.
US Uncut-- saying we have plenty of money. We're not broke as a society. There's plenty of money and wealth in the society, it's just in the wrong places. We have to make sure these millionaires and corporations like GE pay their fair share.
How to reply to libertarians who say-- I built a company, i didn't get any help, I shouldn't have to pay any taxes-- leave me alone.
My answer is we live in a society where our grandparents, t hrough their labor and effort built a fertile ground for wealth creation. Nobody started from scratch. If that was really the case they should try building their business in an island off the coast of honduras. We have a legal system and patent protection system and courts, we have social order that is priceless... For the people who say that I say, go to nigeria... go start your business there. They don't have the kind of infrastructure to support business.
we have all these multimilliionaires who say there should be more taxes on millionaires.
Wealth for the common good is a network of a couple of thousand wealthy, high income individuals who think that millionaires should pay in a fair way-- their fair share.
Joined patirotic millionaires for fiscal strength and Businesses for prosperity.
In 1961, the top tax rates on equivalent of income over $2 million was about 50%. Today, the effective tax rate is about 18% of income. Same thing with corporations.
taxes in time of Eisenhower was 91% on income over $400,000 which is the equivalent of $2 million today.
People say we have the highest corporate taxes in the world. We have a high rate of 35%, but the actual effective rate that corporations pay is 10-12% and the big difference is loopholes or deductions, including whole offshore set ups to move offshore.
So GE, Apple, CISCO, Federal Express... pay no or little taxes. They set up accounting so all profits are out of the country. So they pay no US taxes.
If they can't find a loophole, they'll lobby to create it.
Boeing has not paid a dime in federal taxes in the last three years, though we just gave them a 35 billion dollar contract
They don't feel like there is anything wrong with shifting their tax obligations onto the rest of us, including small businesses that have to compete with these giant companies engaging in accounting gymnastics.
Local bookstore that pays property taxes and sales taxes and have to compete with amazon which pays on local taxes.
Think about 2008 about a transition to a new economy. The rich and powerful are willing to sacrifice everything to get their wealth.
People are joinging American Dream, US Uncut.
The far right has an agenda to convnce us that we're poor, we're broke and they've made us broke. They have a Shock Doctrine agenda so corporations can run rampant over us. The only line of defense is for we the people to push back. The far right understands this and they want to weaken regulatory government. The Frank Dodd bill consumer repeal law was passed and they want to repeal it. We have to fight and appeal Citizens United.
20,000 people with incomes over a million.
To be in the top 1% you have to have $300,000 in income and there are three million in the top one percent.
There are about 450 billionaires in the US.
In years after WWII 1947 to 1977 we had progressive tax and used that fuel a rapid expansion of the middle class and we were much less unequal and in some ways a mor e healthy society in terms of relative equality between top and middle and middle and bottom. We were not as polarized.
inequality.org has different chart packs and tools.
The more unequal we are the more public health is worse, themore quality of life deteriorates and the economy is more unstable.
The whole system becomes more precarious.
The US has the distinction among the industrialized societies of being the three most unequal, along with mexico and russia. Countries in Europe are much more equal.
The US has had hardeing of the arteries in terms of social mobility, compared to Europe. .
More people will end up in the quintile where their parents were. People will stay stuck
We are in period when you can see that the corporations have captured our democracy.
This was similar at the turn of the 20th century. In 1916 the first inheritance taxes were passed.
It's clear that the collapse of the middle class, of a decent life for the majority of people is...
I think we're at the beginning of a new awakening. There are political leaders in the senate and house.
Stop tax haven law introduced by Senator Levin.
responding to right wing talking points-- anti-tax perspective
Tea party is, in a way, no different than the conservative agenda for the last 30 years.
Shift taxes off of corporation and the rich to the middle class, from federal to state and local
Tea party has wrapped into a new pretty box. These are people who get medicare and social security and benefit enormously from government but are dishonest about it.
I mention my article Casey Anthony Walked Thanks to Grover Norquist & His Anti-Tax Congressional Minions
People are starting to see the things they care about starting to be lost.
They're starting to feel squeezed-- having to pay more for gas, insurance, food-- quality of life-- the traffic jam is worse, the public isn't as nice, the infrastructure doesn't work-- the pothole, the train and bus that are late. If you disinvest the commonweal, this is what we get-- the teacher's aide isn't there the gym teacher and music teacher are gone-- schools ask parents to endow chairs-- Isn't that what our taxes are supposed to do?
We're seeing the unravelling of life.
You get what you don't pay for.
Demos.org has a terrific project on what they call public works and the role of government and seeing the invisible for all the things we take for granted.
Top Down and bottom up.
Because top down has been captured by corporations and the wealthy we need to look to bottom up.
We shouldn't let our government be hijacked and taken away from us.At local levels people are forming resilience circles and affinity groups
Localcircles.org about resilience circles= 10-20 purposes who get together to learn, help each other for mutual aid and engaging in action. 20% of population un or under employed or anxiously employed.
We have to get together with other people about what to do together.
Affinity groups, common security club, unemployed support groups-- find a group of people to be your home base, your team-- get together and break bread, have a pot luck, read an article, help each other get through.... It's about bottom up forming the cell structure for
I think the idea that we're going to take on corporations with a nation of fragmented individuals is not going to happen. There's a local food movement, looking at how we're going to become more resilient. What skills do we need to learn in this new economy.
Citylife-- for people who are facing foreclosure-- they learn that these banks that taxpayers bailed out are closing on families because their houses are overvalued. If they wanted they could restructure the loan. So we go and vigil at these house and put pressure on the bank " and he bank works a deal with the families.
Yesterday I went to one of these vigils and it was Fannie Mae that was going to evict a Haitian family
This is Fannie Mae. You and me own Fannie May-- the fact is we've stopped hundreds of those evictions.
So we have to come together. But the reality is most people facing forerclosure are facing them alone.
Ayn Rand-- celebrates the heroic individual-- Daphne Taggart who runs the railroad in Atlas Shrugged or Roark in the Fountainhead
Blindspot is seeing the role of society, the web of supports that through community and government we help one another--
It's a fantasy view that overemphasized the indvidual and underemphasizes society and government.
Irony is that, in Atlas shrugged, Daphne taggart was born on third base saying she had hit a triple.
Born on Third Base syndrome--
even people who got a housing subsidy-- VA loans-- they're getting the drawbridge thrown to them but want to pull it up to the people coming after them. Before they say they want to get rid of government they should own up to how they and their parents and grandparents got help.
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