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June 11, 2012 10:33 AM Age: 7 yrs

Where’s our ROI?

Category: Larry Checco
Source:  Larry Checco

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The chatter continues in earnest about whether or not to extend the Bush tax cuts to the wealthiest among us.

So what’s new?

Wittingly or unwittingly, in the 1980's the American public entered into a new social contract that had a value proposition.

The new contract?  By reducing capital gains and marginal tax rates, increasing tax loopholes, as well as providing other preferential financial treatment, Americans were asked to make an investment in those who we now commonly refer to as the top one percent.

The value proposition?  This investment in the wealthiest among us—who prefer we referred to them as “the job creators”—would lead to trickle down prosperity for all.

The problem is that after 30 years of investing, the American public is beginning to ask “Where’s our return on investment?”

Instead of trickle down prosperity, it’s been nothing but trickle down misery for the past three decades, resulting in a shrinking middle class and untold hardship for millions of hardworking American families who now find themselves trying to survive the aftermath of a recession the likes of which we haven’t seen in a long, long time.

Yet, the wealthy have never been wealthier, and corporations are sitting on more than $2.2 trillion in cash.

Shared sacrifice?

To add insult to injury, politicians and Washington-based think tanks are blathering on about fairness and “shared sacrifice,” which at best misrepresent the reality.  

Shared sacrifice implies across-the-board fairness and equity when trying to solve an issue.  This hardly seems to be what's going on in our country today. 

The fact is millions of Americans, the vast majority of whom did all "the right things," have lost their jobs, homes, and health care, gone through their entire life savings -- and have lost hope in what the future holds for themselves and their children.  

These are the same people who -- through their tax dollars -- not only invested in the rich, but also helped bail many of them out when the Great Recession hit.  The irony is the very same people who created this mess have sacrificed little, if anything, to help right our economic ship.  Executive compensation and bonuses continue to rise while the salaries and benefits to their workers continue to decline.

Top earners seem to have absolutely no desire to make any kind of shared sacrifice to get this country back on its feet.  

Marginal and corporate tax rates have never been lower. Yet presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, Rep. Paul Ryan and others of their ilk continue to aggressively advocate for a further transfer of wealth to “the already-haves” in the way of more cuts in corporate, capital gains and dividend tax rates, as well as elimination of the estate tax, which according to the Tax Policy Center, will mostly benefit the top 1 percent.

Total tax avoidance

Meanwhile, to avoid paying any taxes, thousands of wealthy American's choose to hide their hefty assets in offshore bank accounts, further depriving the US Treasury of billions' of dollars.

Then there is co-founder Eduardo Saverin, who owns about 4% of Facebook.  Saverin recently gave up his US citizenship to live in Singapore -- where his IPO tax bill will be significantly smaller than had he remained in the country that gave him the opportunity to make billions.  Now there’s a guy who seems to have fairness and shared-sacrifice etched on his frontal lobe!  I say, let’s ban him, and others like him, from ever re-entering the United States of America.

President Ronald Reagan's fabled welfare queens didn't get us into this mess, and the poor and middle classes won't be able to get us out.  Instead of shared sacrifice, we need to come back to the notion of community.  

America wasn't built by the wealthy.  It was built on the backs of millions of hardworking people who had a sense of communal purpose, inspired by a nation with seemingly infinite possibilities and opportunities for all.

And don’t be fooled. The concerns many of us have about the conduct of Wall Street and the privileged few are not driven by "envy," as some would have us believe.  

Rather it’s the lack of equity in our laws, fairness in the marketplace and equal opportunity throughout our system that gets our gall.  And we don't believe anyone on Capitol Hill, in the White House, corporate boardrooms or think tanks even recognizes the true issue, let alone is doing something about it.

So, instead of investing more of our wealth in the already wealthy, we should, at the very least, adhere to the maxim that when you’re in a hole, stop digging—and demand that top earners start to help fill the crater they created!

Content © 2012 by Larry Checco - All Rights Reserved

 

 

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