Wisconsin can lead the way… if its politicians will let it.
By Jack E. Lohman
Many things are wrong with today’s wealth inequality (see chart) and many on the Right like to excuse it as “free enterprise.” But when that free enterprise compromises the sustainability and safety of a nation it ceases to be free and it must be regulated. But it must be regulated by politicians not regulated themselves by the campaign contributions from those who benefit from the laws they write.
Where to start?
Corporate Reform: We must give control of corporations back to their owners; the shareholders. They must have authority to approve CEO salaries and pay packages, to (dis)approve of political expenditures, to call for an independent audit, and to appoint board members. We must eliminate proxy votes that automatically transfer to the Board, and the conflict of interest that results when CEOs of one company sit on the board of their buddy-CEO’s other company.
As one who lost over $100,000 because of investments in four corporations with arrogant CEOs, I feel the pain of those who lost their home or life savings. This legalized robbery must be stopped, but first we must stop the legalized political bribery that allows it.
CEO Pay: As it stands, $100 million CEO packages are simply written off as a company expense and the taxpayers end up subsidizing the CEO’s wealth. This write-off should be limited to $1 million, because there’s not a CEO in this country worth any more than that. But if the shareholders disagree they can divert some of their dividends to satisfy the CEO needs. Or they can fire him, whichever they prefer. But they can’t use any more taxpayer dollars.
Individual Tax Reform: The Bush tax cuts must be allowed to expire, and we must increase taxes on the rich. They helped us into this mess and they are the only ones that can afford to get us out of it. The poor people cannot.
Yea, I’ve heard it before: “The rich invest their wealth and create jobs!” That’s (usually) baloney… though IF that were true we should make their taxes zero and they could pull our country out of recession tomorrow. But instead they’d send their tax savings offshore and create jobs in China and India. They’re not dummies. You’d do the same thing now that our politicians have given foreign investments a tax break.
VAT and consumption tax: These must be taken totally off the table. The rich love them, because they are equivalent to a national sales tax and are “regressive” and disproportionately paid by lower-wage families who buy product. Aside from that, “consumption” is the last thing in the world we should penalize.
Corporate tax reform: Taxes on corporations that employ US citizens should be zero. And if they can’t find a way to do that, an increase of all corporate taxes but a heavy per-employee subsidy will help make US manufacturing attractive. Corporate taxes, in the end, are simply passed on to the consumer at the cash register and are regressive. Under this proposal only foreign product will be taxed.
Single-payer healthcare: Why we give away to the health insurance industry $700 billion per year, when this middle-man should go the way of first-class mail and other obsoleted technologies, is beyond me. It is, at least, until I look at the $125 million the health industry made in campaign contributions to our esteemed politicians.
Health costs are an unneeded corporate burden that is passed on to our nation’s consumers and should be paid by the taxpayers directly. They’ll save $400 billion in the process. That bureaucracy adds 20% to our costs and is killing American competitiveness and jobs (though admittedly it makes our politicians very rich, and they like that a lot).
How nice to be rich…
Indeed some wealthy folks, after pillaging the American people, will relocate to quieter countries to spend their wealth and last years. If they are lucky they’ll pick one that stays democratic and is not overthrown. If they are not lucky they’ll need to spend their wealth on their own army to protect them and their families from kidnapping by goon squads demanding ransoms. Or hoping the local politicians don’t confiscate it. It could be a very miserable life of isolation.
I found amusing the Billionaire Sea Castles, which of course faces only sea storms, pirates and torpedoes. But well-deserved anyway.
Even if you like some of these ideas, our corrupt political system will block them. Only passage of the Fair Elections Now Act will give them (and the nation) an opportunity to survive. Pressure your congressman to co-sign the bill. Our government is controlled by corporations rather than voters, and with political complicity they trashed our economy.