Economic apartheid fueled by escalating disorder | Opinion

If Adam and Eve could be interviewed, they would be shocked at the nation’s immoral wealth gap. Recently, Tesla’s Elon Musk and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos got into a public fight over who the richest American is. According to the Wall Street Journal, Musk taunted Bezos with a second-place medallion when he climbed to $ 318 billion, topping Bezos at around $ 200 billion. According to Forbes data, analyzed by Americans for Tax Fairness, Musk gleaned a 12-fold increase during the pandemic and a $ 109 billion increase in the past month. In 2018, Musk paid no federal income taxes and recently moved from California to Texas to avoid state taxes.

Musk and Bezos are not unique. As Katherine Clarke notes in the Wall Street Journal, the wealthiest Americans dramatically increased their wealth during the COVID crisis. Ten years ago, Business Week sounded the alarm that “for capitalism to prevail, the growing gap between rich and poor must be bridged.” At that time, George Soros made a similar observation in the Atlantic Monthly, arguing that “unbridled self-interest and laissez-faire policies can destroy capitalism from within.”

The administration proposed an income tax increase for wealthy Americans. The argument is simply that those who benefited from the system should give more back to maintain the system that made it happen.

What is complicated is to distinguish between “wealth” and “income”. Income can be legally and easily diluted due to exemptions such as unrealized capital gains, loans taken on assets at low rates to fund luxurious lifestyles and creative estate planning. As reported in the Wall Street Journal, economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman in their 2019 book “The Triumph of Injustice: How the Rich Dodge Taxes and How to Make Them Pay” found that the 400 richest households by income paid a tax on average individual income. rate of only 9.2 percent. More importantly, under the current law, a person whose net worth is, say, $ 100 billion and who has not sold anything would have no income to report and no taxes.

As Ken Thomas and Richard Rubin noted in the Wall Street Journal, “On death, these unrealized gains are not subject to income tax and the heirs are only required to pay capital gains taxes. at the time of sale and only on gains made since the death of the previous owner. Perhaps feeling guilty, Elon Musk recently tweeted, ‘Lately there’s been a lot of talk about unrealized gains as a means of tax evasion, so I’m offering to sell 10% of my Tesla shares.

Eighty years ago, in the grip of depression and social upheaval, Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed a number of ways to redistribute income to avoid economic apartheid. Some have been implemented, but many have since been diluted or repealed. Now our society is once again falling apart on the basis of economic income and efforts to redistribute profits in our society are long overdue. Those who claim the proposed changes will dramatically increase the national debt should instead consult the recent report of the Joint Committee on Taxation, a non-partisan panel that prepares official revenue estimates for all tax laws considered by Congress. He found that funding for the Build Back Better bill would generate $ 1.476 billion in revenue over a decade and likely not increase the national debt. However, the few at the top are striving to protect what they have and seek to throw their wealth on space rides such as the Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin and Space X Expeditions. Meanwhile, the lower ones perceive that ‘they have little to gain from maintaining the system. Overall, the worsening living conditions of more and more people led to an escalation of unrest. The threat to the current economic system comes from within, and the rhetoric that foreign battles must be fought “in the interest of national security” seems increasingly acute and hollow. The real front is with us, because a system of economic apartheid which offers a future only to a smaller and smaller minority cannot last.

Interestingly, 50 years ago President Richard Nixon warned of American decline. As noted by Tom Switzer, executive producer of the Center for Independent Studies in Sydney, Australia, Nixon said, “I think about what happened to Greece and Rome, and you see what’s left – just the pillars. . What happened, of course, is that the great civilizations of the past, as they got rich, as they lost their will to live, to improve, then they are become subject to the decadence which ends up destroying civilization. Nixon’s lament: “The United States is now coming to this period. Nixon concluded by urging his compatriots to focus on building a “healthy” nation both morally and physically. “

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