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18 February 2011


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Great post, thanks.

I think the American economic elite no longer give a hoot about the US. They care about nothing other than short term gain.

With the generous assistance of the political class, there is not much left except to boil the bones of the middle class down for glue.

ex-PFC Chuck,

Yes, exactly. The TP was financed and organized by rightwing elites to co-opt well-deserved middle class rage at a system which increasingly has left us marginalized economically, or stagnant at best.


It's obvious that some of these people pay way too much in taxes.


Zanzibar, I would say some of the one use only crowd at the WSJ article above should meet any definition of 'wealthy'.



If this link doesn't work google mother jones:

ex-PFC Chuck,
I agree with the quote but I can't take credit. The pro-Walker talking heads on the MSM make it sound like this is just about wages and benefits (though that would be enough) but Walker wants to bust the unions by taking away their right to collective bargaining.

I'm a union member,retired, but the old timers use to say the president who did the most for them was Nixon. Republicans haven't always been anti-union. That's the new breed.



Thank you for citing Greenwald. He offers one of the best legal/social critiques around: always intelligent, dogged, principled, and honest.

Estella Sakultanapanich


Thanks for the link. Tomorrow should be interesting, and hopefully peaceful.



In the USA, 1% gets over 20% of all income and the top 20% receive over half of all income.

I’d set the marginal tax rates at 70% over $100 million a year, 60% over $10 million a year and 50% over $1 million a year; current rates below $500,000. 70% was the maximum rate 1980 when the Reagan Revolution along with privatization and deregulation started America on the road to the current crisis.

The Masters of the Universe deserve a 70% tax rate for the privilege to screw America citizens like they have since the Clinton Administration.

Roy G

My wife, who grew up in France, is continually amazed that Americans don't strike. Of course, I tell her, there has been a 100+ year war on organized labor in this country. They have succeeded in demonizing and marginalizing unions, and in making most Americans forget about this very democratic form of power and protest. Perhaps that will change.



I suppose they belong to the top 400 taxpaying households with gross annual income exceeding $87 million.

How much would you tax them and how much would the treasury get? How much of a dent would it make on the deficit?


There sure is a lot of America bashing here. Stop and reconsider, this is still a very pleasant country to reside in.

As "AJ" said in one of The Sopranos episodes, "People still want to come here." I see desperate people so often in my immigration practice, that I know it's absolutely true. This country does offer opportunities to countless people the world over who think it's heaven compared to where they came from.

Seriously, would you prefer to live in countries like Guatemala, Russia, Kenya, Albania, Sierra Leone, Togo, Burkina Faso, Ukraine, Nepal, Sri Lanka, or Pakistan? That's where just some of my clients come from. Immigrants from countries like these are the ones that revitalize our nation with their initiative and attitude. I'm actually proud they want to be here.

But for a 60+ oldster like my who remembers the patriotism, pride and sense of shared values America had in the early 1960s, our Nation now is a shell of what it once was. I take to heart the bitter truths in the Glenn Greenwald piece today, U.S. Justice v. the world.

In America today it is no longer possible to say "No man is above the law," especially when dealing with government officials. We have hideous problems with official "impunity," the State Department's favorite word when describing lack of government official accountability in other countries.

The great tragedy of the Obama Presidency is not simply his sorry-ass economic policies (which are bad enough) but his institutionalization of the Executive lawlessness committed by the Bush Administration, particularly in matters affecting "national security," viz the status quo.

Could "it" happen here? If people protested in America like they just did in Egypt you can bet your rear end the power structure here wouldn't be urging "restraint."

If people protested here now like they did in the 60s the National Security State would shoot them in the streets. Kent State incidents would be commonplace, I fear.

Worse, still, though, is that my fears of protest in the streets are academic. The governing class and their plutocrat allies have so effectively bamboozled and divided the working stiffs that meaningful, organized protest is impossible. So, "no," I don't think "it" is possible here, even though the risk of riot is probably the only thing left with a chance to change things.


As a democrat, I'd say Nixon wasn't a half bad president. He had his quirks, but who doesn't? He was really better than he's been portrayed. EPA, the clean water act? Nixon was really kind of progressive. It's too bad we don't have republicans like him anymore.

Charles I

Sidney, its happening, been going on for decades. Seems the plan, not going as planned, is to dismantle federal government, leave you to your/state/tribe/guild/roadkill recyclers, completely digitize and privatize the standard of living we have now, and dole it out to those who scrabble to the top of the assessment/venality heap or are grandfathered in in service to the battling corporatacracies that control the commodities, technology and capital require to keep the lights on.

So that more of us live like the rest of the world, and are sat still for it, while the religio-ideological sybarites battle it out across the globe to see who can accidentally destroy civilization.

The mere fact that money can be borrowed to cut taxes while you are at war says it all. There is no civic purpose to your government but private enrichment which most certainly has not trickled down despite our bespoke legislators pissing on us.

Completely penetrated, but not controlled, by this amazing Order of Chinese hackers, spies and bankers en familles whose own Center did not hold . . .

Of course, there's going to be an awful lot of gunplay when the denouement becomes apparent in the U.S, too many guns to be otherwise, don't think it'll be the crowd against the government(broke), maybe eat the rich, short work before Survivor Suburbia starts its season.

Big drought in China, Russia previously curtailed grain exports Mind the price of wheat, inflation is coming.



Curious. Have you done a back of the envelope math on what the incremental receipts to the Treasury would be?

I believe the top marginal tax rates were higher than what you suggest during Ike's term.


I hear you. I think you are right on. And so is Greenwald when he writes:

"If an American citizen can't even sue political officials who lawlessly imprison and torture him in his own country -- if political leaders are vested with immunity from a claim of this type -- what rational person can argue that the rule of law or the Constitution binds our government officials?"



Yes, I recall that Nixon proposed some form of universal, national health insurance. The democrats were too busy with Watergate to bother.


Rushbo says he doesn't like the word "worker". He prefers employee or the newspeak "associate" for "dumbshit". He probably considerers it a Marxist term but in his propagandist little brain he doesn't like its implicit meaning of work performed, something important and necessary.

anna missed

Obama's most egregious domestic act to date (amongst many) was to extend the Bush tax cuts at a time when the logical conversation (see current depression) should have been about how high to raise them. Seeing that in the previous depression tax rates soared into the 90% range and basically stayed there until the Reagan era, arguing over a 3 or 4% raise to 36% - and failing - is complicity to elite demand if not social idiocy. Globalization, outsourcing, and offshoring profits have essentially de-coupled the American economy from the workforce to the extent that they have severed inter- dependency. If instead, the Obama administration would have raised the top tax rate to early Reagan levels to 50% we wouldn't be having these deficit problems at all. End of story.


Redhand -- for someone living in Guatemala & who's lived in Kenya & Pakistan (and is an oldster, too!), I regretfully confirm most of your insights. The fact that we're so "gunned up" means that elements of the shat upon, increasingly marginalized working class will join in the turkey shoot of those protesting against the plutocrats.
Let's face it, the American middle class was a short-lived phenom, fostered if not created by our oligarchs in reaction to the rise of violent socialism (AKA, "the commies") at the end of the XIXth Century. Now that we've "seen off" the Red Menace, it's time to finish up the export of jobs and put the middle 60% of America back among the struggling masses.

William R. Cumming

Jackie! There are several major historians that identified NIXON for all his personal corruption and criminality as the last PROGRESSIVE PRESIDENT! I actually worked with Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney briefly during the NIXON wage price freeze. They were both smart enough to get out of town in time to not have their careers scarred by NIXON. I was actually offered as a young lawyer and recently returning VET advancement but only if I would use my knowledge and talents to warp (corrupt?) the system for accomplishing certain goals. Apparently I was not the only one to refuse that offer but many many did including the first FEMA Director John W. Macy who was LBJ's head of the former Civil Service Commission.
Nixonian politics and mentorees indicate to me that together with his policy choices for better or worse, NIXON dominates the post-Eisenhower political life of the the NATION. Perhaps tragically.


"A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within"... Ariel Durant

Sidney O. Smith III

Charles I, from the land of Diana Krall

Right now, when it comes to insights into the financial and economic world, I trust those of zanzibar more than anyone else in the comment sections of this venue.

His views are not just academic. His insights come from experience deep within the machinations of the financial world (which I certainly do not have). From what I can tell, he has had to make some extraordinarily important and difficult financial decisions for a lot people and he did so successfully. No easy feat.

Plus, a lot of the people who relied on zanzibar appear to have been part of the mom and pop business kind of America. And, yes, zanzibar does appear to have a great appreciation of Jefferson.

Time permitting, I have tried to follow some of the financial experts that zanzibar has referenced, either directly or, just as importantly, obliquely. It has ushered in a new kind of reality and, at least from what I can tell, the underlying assumptions upon which these people rely are not what we hear from the Royal court economists and so on.


WRC: Thanks you for the comment. I think the historians are correct about Nixon being the last progressive President. I've always thought that was because Nixon was more interested in foreign policy than domestic policy, but I could be wrong.

Do you have any explanation for todays republicans who never mention Nixon or Eisenhower?


The fact that we're so "gunned up" means that elements of the shat upon, increasingly marginalized working class will join in the turkey shoot of those protesting against the plutocrats.

Sadly, I agree. I see huge potential for militia-type violence against "socialist" protesters. Moreover, I wouldn't necessarily write off the "red threat" just yet.

Nothing bespeaks our poisoned politics of fear and reactionary pandering better than Tom Delay, one of the infinitesimally small number of Republicans actually convicted for his crimes, having the incredible gall to call Obama "a marxist."

Relative to what Obama actually is, the charge is laughable, but its very absurdity makes the point.


To clarify I don't think associates are dumbshits but management many times think workers are and treat them as such. The word associate also denotes a nearly equal status and since I equate the term with Walmart, consider it newspeak.

Nixon would be claimed by the progressives if ir weren't for his paranoid tendencies, which in the public's mind overshadows his achievments.


This should be required reading for all Americans, especially those who vote.

I have provided a link to it and a link to Bob Herbert's column in the Times, of 2/12 on my blog post Music Men.

Both men have given us ample evidence that We've got trouble right here in River City. My blog address is: www.leesvoicecryinginthewilderness.blogspot.com.


R Whitman:

"There sure is a lot of America bashing here. Stop and reconsider, this is still a very pleasant country to reside in.

Most of our so called troubles now will be resolved one way or the other during the next few years and we will have other problems to contend with. Thats the American way."

With the greatest respect Mr. Whitman. I believe that the troubles will not be resolved because the American economy is frozen in time, embrittled, and is in the process of shattering.

In a normally functioning free market economy there is a great deal of "creative destruction" or evolution constantly going on. Companies form, grow, mature and either evolve or disappear as their products compete in the marketplace. That is as it should be.

However that process is impeded in America because businesses have developed a range of cancerous strategies for business survival that subvert free markets. Those strategies involve outright illegalities, rent seeking behaviour (having the rules re written by Government), and perverted use of the legal system to stifle competition.

Did you know that one company did its best to destroy the Linux operating system by falsely claiming they owned it, and attempting to shake down users?


Did you know that you require a Licence to operate as a Florist in Louisiana?


Did you know that American production of Ethanol from corn is subsidised at 45 cents a gallon? Not only that, there is a 50 cent a gallon tariff on imported ethanol?


Do you understand the sheer insanity of having to take healthcare insurance programs into account when selecting an employer? Do you understand the economic inefficiencies that a less than free movement of labour causes?

Do you understand what a "patent troll" company does, and how they stifle American innovation across the entire economy by perverting the patent system?

Do you understand that the DMCA (copyright act) has virtually destroyed software innovation in America?

Do you understand that America subsidises its cotton industry, to the tune of $3 billion per year? Do you understand that this does not save American jobs, it actually costs American jobs in more productive sectors?


These are just a few examples, multiply them by the Tens of thousands and consider their effect on job creation.

This is where your jobs have gone. Low skilled, low pay jobs deserve to go to countries where they are treasured. What has happened in America is that the new industries that should have grown and taken up the slack were stillborn.

What would be lethal to America as a nation is a concerted push by China to become the centre of the venture capital industry and to build hubs and incubators for new business start ups in an effort to create the Chinese equivalent of Silicon Valley and the biotech hubs on Americas East Coast. If that happens, your entrepreneurs will pack their bags an walk.

Well that's the bad news. The good news is that if it were possible to employ a few hundred economists trained in the Chicago school of ruthless application of simple economic laws, it would be possible to cut through and flush out the mass of boondoggles and rotten business practices that are killing the economy. I include some, but not all, Union behaviours in that basket as well. It would take in my opinion about Five years to get back to square One, and another Five to see measurable improvement in peoples quality of life.

I speak as someone who joined an Australian State Government that was virtually bankrupt in 1992 to help get that States moribund manufacturing base working again. It can be done.

Patrick Lang


"Did you know that you require a Licence to operate as a Florist in Louisiana?" In most American places one requires a business license to perate any business. This has a special signficance to you?

IMO if the United States collapses and disintegrates politically as a result, there will be born a situation in ehich the pieces will be formidable. pl

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