Friday, January 18, 2013

5 steps to cheating the middle-class worker

We love this. It's from Common Dreams, a nonprofit news center.

Paul Buchheit, a college teacher and member of US Uncut, explains how to exploit working people in five easy steps.

1. Boost productivity while keeping wages flat: Here he cites an Economic Policy Institute study that shows workers have gotten way more productive, but wages have stagnated. We'd even argue that wages have declined over the past few years (according to the U.S. Census, they have). Buchheit suggests that monopoly power is at the root of the wage decline. Economist Paul Krugman says so too. We can't disagree.

2. Build up a financial industry that has no maximum wage: Well, that sure happened. He tells us:
The industry's share of corporate profits grew from 16% in 1980 to an astonishing 45% in 2002. 
And there's no limit to the earning potential. Hedge fund manager John Paulson conspired with Goldman Sachs in 2007 to bundle sure-to-fail subprime mortgages in attractive packages, with just enough time for Paulson to collect other people's money to bet against his personally designed financial instruments. He made $3.7 billion, enough to pay the salaries of 100,000 new teachers.
3. Keep accumulating wealth created by the financial industry:  Buchheit reminds us of the staggering wealth that the richest Americans got their hands on -- and kept.
In the last 25 years, only the richest 5% of Americans have increased their share of non-home wealth, by the impressive rate of almost 20 percent. 
In just one year, the richest 20 Americans earned more from their investments than the entire U.S. education budget.
4. Tax yourself as little as possible: Can you say "Bush tax cuts?" "Corporate giveaways?"

There are three ways to make money: by your back, by your brains, and by the money you already have. The easiest way is the money that money makes, and it's the most lightly taxed. Buccheit writes,
In addition to the capital gains benefit, tax ploys like carried interest, performance-related pay, stock options, and deferred compensation allow hedge fund managers and CEOs to pay less than low-income Americans, and possibly even nothing at all. 
The richest 400 taxpayers doubled their income in just seven years while cutting their tax rates nearly in half. U.S. corporations can match that, doubling their profits and cutting their taxes by more than half in under ten years. The 1.3 million individuals in the richest 1% cut their federal tax burden from 34% to 23% in just 25 years. 
5. Lend out your excess money to people who can no longer afford a middle-class lifestyle:

Americans carry more than $11 trillion in consumer debt, including mortgages, student loans, and credit card liabilities. Recent college graduates have an average of $27,200 in student loans.

And here's a scary number: At a time when cuts to Social Security are actually being consider, Bank Credit News tells us:
One-third of older households used credit cards to pay rent, mortgages, groceries or utilities, and half of Americans older than 50 carried medical expenses on their credit cards, due primarily to dental expenses and prescription costs. 
If only it were so easy to turn things around...