culture, politics, commentary, criticism

Monday, March 10, 2008
Who's yacht and who's not? The extreme ultra-rich, whom Bush showered with tax breaks and whom he describes as his "base," are defying every form of economic gravity that affects the rest of us (
Thanks to a global explosion of wealth over the past 10 years or so, the number of U.S. households with $1 million to $25 million in net worth has more than doubled. Households with $500 million and up have roughly tripled. [...]

True, only a tiny portion of all Americans meet our definition of rich: Just 0.20% of households have net worths of $25 million or more. But in absolute numbers, the group is considerable. If one representative from each of the 175,400 households filed into an NFL stadium at the same time, they wouldn't all find seats. In fact, they would have to go in two shifts -- and even then, some 15,000 would be left in the parking lots, tailgating in their Bentleys. [...]

WITH A NET WORTH OF $500 million or more, "You can buy whatever you want" in Manhattan real estate, says Mason. Or you can buy anywhere else. Some members of this group buy $20 million homes "all over the world," says Gary Gold, realty broker to the rich at Hilton & Highland in Los Angeles. He's been as surprised as anyone by the growing number of people who qualify for the Champagne & Caviar class. Five or 10 years ago, he says, "you'd know who they are. Now, they can have vast wealth and you don't know who they are."

Leslie Mandel, chief executive of the Rich List, a marketing company, contends there are now more than 2,000 Americans with net worths of a $1 billion or more, far more than the 400 who appear on Forbes' annual list (the cutoff for that is now $1.3 billion). Some bankers figure the number of billionaires is closer to 500, but either way, it's up remarkably from the 170 of 10 years ago. [...]

In his 2007 book about the wealth explosion, Richistan, Wall Street Journal writer Robert Frank tells the story of an 11-year-old girl who asked her father for a ride on a commercial airline even though the family owned its own jet. "I want to ride on a big plane with other people," the girl said.
Why didn't she or her siblings say, "I want my health insurance claims to be denied like other people," or "I want to know what real financial uncertainty feels like, just like the employees Daddy screwed out of their Enron 401(k) plans," or "I wish I knew what it felt like to be young and black and living in New Orleans's Third Ward during Katrina," or "Gosh, I wish I knew what it felt like to fight and become an amputee in Iraq or Afghanistan."

Think of this level of wealth as class warfare with a smiley face. Or no face at all. That's why we need true progressive income taxation, higher capital gains taxes, and estate taxes that kick in around $5 million.

The ultra-rich got everything they wanted from the most billionaire-friendly president in modern history and America is still shit dragging the heel of the global economy. Now it's our turn to tax the people who have profited so spectacularly from all the covertly calculated Republican carnage, both in dollars and in working-class blood, carried out in the name of faux family values and phony crusade-wars conducted with a costume cowboy hat.

Greatest Hits · Alternatives to First Command Financial Planning · First Command, last resort, Part 3 · Part 2 · Part 1 · Stealing $50K from a widow: Wells Real Estate · Leo Wells, REITs and divine wealth · Sex-crazed Red State teenagers · What I hate: a manifesto · Spawn of Darleen Druyun · All-American high school sex party · Why is Ken Lay smiling? · Poppy's Enron birthday party · The Saudi money laundry and the president's uncle · The sentence of Enron's John Forney · The holiness of Neil Bush's marriage · The Silence of Cheney: a poem · South Park Christians · Capitalist against Bush: Warren Buffett · Fastow childen vs. Enron children · Give your prescription money to your old boss · Neil Bush, hard-working matchmaker · Republicans against fetuses and pregnant women · Emboldened Ken Lay · Faith-based jails · Please die for me so I can skip your funeral · A brief illustrated history of the Republican Party · Nancy Victory · Soldiers become accountants · Beware the Merrill Lynch mob · Darleen Druyun's $5.7 billion surprise · First responder funding · Hoovering the country · First Command fifty percent load · Ken Lay and the Atkins diet · Halliburton WMD · Leave no CEO behind · August in Crawford · Elaine Pagels · Profitable slave labor at Halliburton · Tom Hanks + Mujahideen · Sharon & Neilsie Bush · One weekend a month, or eternity · Is the US pumping Iraqi oil to Kuwait? · Cheney's war · Seth Glickenhaus: Capitalist against Bush · Martha's blow job · Mark Belnick: Tyco Catholic nut · Cheney's deferred Halliburton compensation · Jeb sucks sugar cane · Poindexter & LifeLog · American Family Association panic · Riley Bechtel and the crony economy · The Book of Sharon (Bush) · The Art of Enron · Plunder convention · Waiting in Kuwait: Jay Garner · What's an Army private worth? · Barbara Bodine, Queen of Baghdad · Sneaky bastards at Halliburton · Golf course and barbecue military strategy · Enron at large · Recent astroturf · Cracker Chic 2 · No business like war business · Big Brother · Martha Stewart vs. Thomas White · Roger Kimball, disappointed Republican poetry fan · Cheney, Lay, Afghanistan · Terry Lynn Barton, crimes of burning · Feasting at the Cheney trough · Who would Jesus indict? · Return of the Carlyle Group · Duct tape is for little people · GOP and bad medicine · Sears Tower vs Mt Rushmore · Scared Christians · Crooked playing field · John O'Neill: The man who knew · Back to the top

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