It’s Valentines Day, and many of us scurry about choosing gifts to show our love. Greeting cards, flowers, chocolates and other sweet tooth succulents are wrapped and delivered to those we hold in deep affection… a time for giving. Yet, behind all the Christmases and Easters and Valentines Days we find so many Americans in deep trouble financially. A friend the other day told me ‘My wife needs a root canal and a crown. She’s in terrible pain. How in the hell can we afford the $1800 the dentist quoted her? She’s gonna have to have it pulled out… only will cost $300. ‘The same guy then focused his attention on the contract for his favorite player on the St Louis Cardinals, and debated whether the guy should take the mega millions offered or move on through free agency. I looked at him and said ‘who in the hell cares!!? ‘
One thing is certain: The super wealthy definitely do not care about those in need, or they would do something viable about it. When a multi millionaire or billionaire decides to transfer 5 % or 10 % of his or her wealth to some charity or foundation ( at a tax deduction ) and keep the rest of the gizzilions…. That is not the caring I am talking about.
Some facts: Between 1948 and 1979, a period of strong overall economic growth and productivity in the United States, the richest 10 % of families accounted for 33% of average income growth, while the bottom 90% accounted for 67% of such growth. This distribution of income remained stable for those three decades. During the most recent economic expansion between 2000 and 2007, just before the depression we now are knee deep in, the richest 10% accounted for… are you ready for this…. A full 100% of average income growth. Get it? I will then bet you dollars to donuts that the top ½ of one per cent of American families benefited the most. Bottom line: There is no real Middle Class anymore! We have the A) Very Wealthy, B) The Wealthy, C) All we suckers who work to stay afloat, and D) The indigent who cannot work.
I wonder if these millionaire and billionaire families truly believe in a sweet hereafter. Do they believe in a God that is of love and caring? Do they at least believe in the humanity and higher morality of our species? Are they that disconnected from a family living in their same town that is struggling to keep a roof over its head? Do they honestly care about children that cannot get enough good food to eat, or proper medical and dental care? Or senior citizens, the same age as themselves or a parent or grandparent, who must decide between medicine and dinner each day? This is the Reality Television that does not play over the airwaves.
The people of Egypt, a country not known for civil protest, finally erupted. They had their fill with corrupt and piggish leaders and elites. They said ‘Enough already! We cannot afford the basic staples of existence, while one or two per cent of you live off the literal fat of the land‘. Question is: When will we Americans get off our duffs and use our right of free assembly in protest? When will our super rich fellow Americans realize that every religion teaches how we are all our ‘brother’s keeper ‘? Do we need to tax the wealthy as they once were taxed? In 1960, when JFK was sworn into office, the top federal income tax rate was 90%. Obviously, no one paid that high a rate, since accountants can find ways to drive it down, even in half. Yet, look at the numbers given earlier in this column. This is not the way it is now! Since so many right wing ideologues refer to our nation as a Christian one, let us look at what Christian scripture has to say about that. When the rich man came upon Jesus and asked him ‘How can I follow you? ‘Jesus told him to ‘Give away all your riches and then follow me.’ That man, as with many of today’s wealthy, could not make that choice and walked away in shame. Or when Jesus stated ‘Easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to get to heaven.’
We, the overwhelming majority of 9 to 5 hardworking Americans, have the power of sheer numbers. We can demand of our leaders to change the tax laws and return to the recent past, when the super wealthy contributed more. We need to at least create some sort of millionaires surtax. For starters, why not a flat tax of 50% for every dollar earned over one million per annum? Cannot our very wealthy neighbors survive comfortably on that? If only we who are not rich and famous could stop treating those who are as celebrities and superstars. Dreams of glory and fame and fortune are what keep us all obedient and docile. No need for violence or anarchy… just a sea of voices singing the same tune. To me, that is the greatest gift of love we can offer this society.
Philip A. Farruggio is son and grandson of Brooklyn NYC longshoremen. He is an activist leader and free lance columnist. Since the 2000 elections, he has written over 200 columns, many posted on various sites worldwide. Recently, he is finding a home at Dandelion Salad, New Jersey activist Ed Dunphy’s progressivepatriots.net or at his own blog at www.opensalon.com. Philip can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Speak Up, Before Our Cities Totally Collapse!! by Philip A. Farruggio (dandelionsalad.wordpress.com)
- Riding With the Beast by Philip A. Farruggio (dandelionsalad.wordpress.com)