Thursday, November 17, 2011

Some (138) of the One Percent Speak!

Here is a tidbit from what appears to be Al Jazeera English’s own sources:

Nearly 140 millionaires have asked a divided US congress to increase their taxes for the sake of the nation.

"Please do the right thing, raise our taxes," the entrepreneurs and business leaders wrote to President Barack Obama and congressional leaders on Wednesday, noting that they benefited from a sound economy and now want others to do so.

The letter was signed by 138 members of "Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength".

The group was created a year ago during a failed bid to persuade congress to end tax cuts for millionaires enacted under Obama's predecessor, the Republican George Bush.

Al Jazeera's Alan Fisher, reporting from Washington DC, said the group is now making the same request of a 12-member congressional "super committee", which is struggling to reach a bipartisan deal to cut the deficit by at least $1.2tn over the next decade in order to help put the nation on sound financial footing.

While I do not wish to question the patriotism of those 138 members, I am not sure their strategy is the most effective approach.  The Occupy movement is as much about the failure of our government to “do the right thing” as it is about the prevailing obscene division of wealth.  It is time to give serious consideration to the hypothesis that our government may be responsible for the lion’s share of the problem, not because (as the TEA Party wishes us to believe) it is too big but because (as Senator Bernie Sanders observed this morning on C-SPAN) it just is not working very well for reasons having more to do with preoccupation with power than with the inefficiencies of size.

Thus, it may be better for those 138 millionaires to circumvent the government, rather than petition it.  It should not be difficult for them to set up their own non-profit beneficent organization that can make its own decisions as to how wealth can be distributed to address problems such as health care and unemployment.  They could then donate their wealth to this organization (in an amount that factors in the tax break they would receive for doing so).  This could well be a major shift from current European logic, where it appears that power is passing to technocrats who only want to think about austerity.  The premise seems simple enough:  If you have 138 individuals who care more about the public good than our elected representative do and they have the fiscal clout to do something about the degradation of that public good, why should they assume that only government can provide a solution?

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