The computer industry, for example, was the baby of government-paid employees working with private industry in WWII. That's where the technology that has so drastically improved efficiency and productivity in our economy was developed.
Bill Gates did not invent the concept of a computer. He developed the concept of the PC based on work done in WWII and thereafter thanks to government investment and contracts.
Interestingly, the leaders, the primary inventors and developers in the PC business (as opposed to the huge computers used by the military in the post-war, Cold War years) were born in and around 1955. They were part of the often maligned generation of the baby boomers. That's Bill Gates, for example. Bill Gates had access to a clumsy cold war era computer at his private school when he was a teenager. That is how he got his start. Most (not all perhaps) of the two or three key pioneers in the PC industry have similar stories.
So, in addition to working people, our increased productivity which has enabled the extremely wealthy to get where they are is owed not just to individual ingenuity, talent and hard work, but to a lot of government research, subsidies and infrastructure. That's why the 1% who have enriched themselves off the backs of the people who together paid for that technology need to pay back more in taxes to give this nation a good start on the innovation of tomorrow.
It's just too risky and not interesting enough to established businesses to do the fundamental research that leads to the kind of technology that the businesses of the future will need to stay innovative. Think of the pure math that is behind a lot of the technology of today. That very fundamental work that we don't even realize is done happens in universities. And whether those institutions are private or public, much of that work is done thanks to government grants by people who, quite often owe part or all of their education from kindergarten through post-graduate school -- to government schools and grants and programs.
Think of the frontiers of tomorrow -- for example, healing and using the oceans for more than just fishing and shipping. Dealing with climate change. Dealing with the new health challenges that climate change will bring. Dealing with the unimaginably difficult challenges of overpopulation. Trying to educate people not just to handle new technology but to live together in peace.
The aristocracy that the 1% dreams of creating does not and cannot deal with those challenges. Aristocracies focus on retaining their power, on increasing their profits and exploiting the energy of their vassals and serfs. They expand their holdings primarily (although not entirely) through war, not through creativity. They fund things that are useful to them. If the Middle Ages and pre-modern world are measures, they build an infrastructure based on maintaining the status quo. They are quintessentially conservative -- fighting to hold on to what they have and take from others, not innovate.
We can't let the 1% take over. We need democracy. We need a healthy government as well as a healthy number of smaller, competing businesses and industries.
The extreme concentration of wealth in the hands of the few is the greatest of the immediate challenges that we Americans face. It is driving us toward a feudal structure with a hereditary elite -- the antithesis of the American dream and a sure prescription for failure.
Raise the taxes on the top 1% or 2% in this country. It isn't just about money.
They aren't going to create the kinds of jobs we want or need.
And, by the way, that bit about how selfish and greedy consumers are. It's the consumers who are in the 1% who are the most selfish and greedy. Especially nowadays, most people on this earth are struggling to get by, to feed and clothe and house their children and parents. Most people are not selfish and greedy. Most people are barely surviving.