E.J. Dionne Jr. ("Obama and the end of decline," op-ed, Nov. 19) notes that Americans are asking why "the country seemed to do a better job of spreading opportunity around 40 years ago than it does now." It’s about time people are questioning the rampant inequality in America.
The 1 percent/99 percent dichotomy didn’t just happen. It’s the result of policies and politics, every bit as much as economics. It happened be cause our political system allows those at the top to limit redistribution and make the rules of the game work in their favor. It happened because the financial sector uses its political clout obtained through lobbying and campaign contributions ($1=1 vote) to maintain regressive taxes, weaken unions and establish policies that enhance its ability to increase profits, e.g., the government sells assets (minerals, air rights) at below fair market prices, the government buys services (Halliburton in Iraq) and products (no negotiating drug prices for Medi care) at above fair market prices, the government places no stringent conditions on the bank bailout (bonuses for billionaires).
When trust between a government and its citizens is threatened, when the social contract is weakened, social cohesion evaporates. We need good corporate governance laws that are strictly enforced and policies that advance the interests of the 99 percent.
Now the government is talking about the fiscal cliff unless there is debt restructuring. Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel Award winning economist, notes that in a recession, growing the economy is more important than restructuring debt. Austerity does not work. Look at Greece, Spain and Portugal. A recession is caused by lack of demand. Before lowering the debt and deficits, the government should invest in projects that create jobs and give purchasing power back to the people.
CEOs don’t need higher salaries, more bonuses. Corp or a tions paying low or no taxes are sitting on profits; there’s no trickle down. Let’s try progressive taxes and trickle up.