Friday, September 24, 2010

How much is too much?

For Gawd's sake, this kind of thing pisses me off, and if it doesn't piss you off I submit that there is something fundamentally wrong with you.

A little tidbit from Robert Reich at the Huffington Post: The Super Rich Get Richer, Everyone Else Gets Poorer, and the Democrats Punt

"Charles and David Koch, the energy magnates who are pouring vast sums of money into Republican coffers and sponsoring tea partiers all over America, each gained $5.5 billion of wealth over the past year. Each is now worth $21.5 billion."
Let me put that in perspective for those of you who aren't already pissed off enough just by that blunt factoid. $21.5 BILLION is a shitload of money. More than you'll see in your lifetime, I would wager. I'll even give you odds.

The median American household earns something just above $50,000 per year. That's HOUSEHOLD, not person. Nowadays most families can't get by without two wage earners, and unless they're both lucky enough to have full-time jobs with benefits, this could actually mean the earnings from 3 or even 4 part-time "McJobs."

So sticking with that number, how many households does it take to earn 21.5 BILLION in a year? That would be 2.15 X10^10 divided by 5X10^4, which works out to an astonishing 430,000 households. Almost half a million FAMILIES!!

Let's take into account now that the average household is just above 3.1 persons (Astonishingly low! Back in the '70s it was around 4.5. I guess people simply can't afford to have 4 or 5 kids anymore.) You're now talking about the money that 1,333,000 people of median income live on, enough people to populate a city the size of Dallas, Texas. Which by the way is ninth on the list of largest cities in the US. If you take the worth of both Koch brothers as your starting point, you're somewhere between the size of Chicago and Houston, which are 3rd and 4th respectively.

The Republican party and a significant number of Democrats, Blue Dog and otherwise, don't want the Bush tax cuts to expire. Obama wants to extend them only for people who make less than $250,000 per annum. That's fewer than 2% of the population. Putting that into perspective, someone making a cool quarter of a million a year gets a paycheck of nearly $10,000 every two weeks -- which is about equal to someone working for $10/hr makes in 6 months at 40hrs/wk.

One comment at the HuffPo post asked a simple, pointed question; "How much inequality in wealth can a democracy tolerate?" I of course can't quantify that as easily as I can compare the Koch's wealth to the rest of the country. But I do know this -- the tolerable level has long been passed. America's system of government is a sham, a democracy in name only -- a demock-racy. It should be revolting enough to cause a revolution. The fact that it hasn't is cause for concern.