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The Rich Are Hogging Our Common Inheritance -- We Must Take It Back

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marmar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 05:58 AM
Original message
The Rich Are Hogging Our Common Inheritance -- We Must Take It Back
via AlterNet:

The Rich Are Hogging Our Common Inheritance -- We Must Take It Back

By Gar Alperovitz and Lew Daly, The New Press. Posted December 8, 2008.

America's wealth is mainly a gift of our common past -- so how is it possible to justify our stunning level of economic inequality?

Editor's Note: The following is an excerpt from "Unjust Deserts: How the Rich Are Taking Our Common Inheritance and Why We Should Take It Back" by Gar Alperovitz and Lew Daly, published by the New Press, 2008.

Technological progress ... has provided society with what economists call a "free lunch," that is, an increase in output that is not commensurate with the increase in effort and cost necessary to bring it about. -- Joel Mokyr, Lever of Riches: Technological Creativity and Economic Progress (1990)

Warren Buffett, one of the wealthiest men in the nation, is worth over $60 billion. Does he "deserve" all this money? Why? Did he work so much harder than everyone else? Did he create something so extraordinary that no one else could have created? Ask Buffett himself and he will tell you that personally he thinks that "society is responsible for a very significant percentage of what I've earned."

But if this is true, doesn't society deserve a very significant share of what he has received?

Buffett may not know it, but he has put his finger on one of the most explosive issues developing just beneath the surface of public awareness. In recent decades researchers working in a broad range of economic, technological, and other fields have clarified much more precisely than in the past the many ways "society" contributes to the creation of "wealth" -- and, accordingly, how relatively little any one individual can be said to have earned and "deserved." Their research, in turn, raises profound moral -- and ultimately political -- questions that are becoming increasingly difficult to avoid. At the heart of this revolution in understanding is a fundamental reconsideration of the extraordinary role of knowledge in economic growth -- and of how ever-increasing knowledge, accumulating across the generations, is central to the creation of all wealth.

The distribution of income and wealth in the United States is more unequal today than at any time since the 1920s. The following study shares with Buffett a fundamental skepticism toward the belief that the nation's extraordinary inequalities are simply a natural outgrowth of differences in individual effort, skills, and intelligence. "We didn't rely on somebody else to build what we built," banking titan Sanford Weill tells us in a New York Times front-page story on the "New Gilded Age." "I think there are people," insists another executive, "who because of their uniqueness warrant whatever the market will bear." .......(more)

The complete piece is at: /

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aquart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 06:00 AM
Response to Original message
1. There are two ways to do it. One is taxation.
The other is the guillotine. I suggest we go with taxation.
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yurbud Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 12:05 PM
Response to Reply #1
6. or both
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zeemike Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 06:20 AM
Response to Original message
2. I have said this before, people are poor because they have no
That is the real inheritance that the next generation should (real estate)
Just look at the last great depreshion...The people that suffered were the ones in cities that had jobs in industry, not the ones on farms where they could produce food for there families.
They may not have had money but they were not hungry, and did not have to stand in soup lines to survive.
Today the corporations own most of the land, and so there will be no inheritance except for the very rich.
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RandomThoughts Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 06:31 AM
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3. Good post.
That is why I think certain group works so hard to call taxation Wealth Distribution. They know that Wealth Distribution is actually what the current system is. Our society redirects wealth to the richest.

This is also why you hear people in a certain group speak of hanging from light poles, or controlling the unwashed masses. (even this term has a perception inside it) and why controlling ideas and thoughts is so important to them.

If people figure it out.
There will be some 'splainen to do.

This is not to say all rich people are bad, but all poor people are not bad either. I actually think many rich people are good honest people. But I agree, the accident of birth, or a social economic system does not define 'earned'

I use to explain this over and over when people would say, they can't tax 'my' money. I would try and ask them to explain how the money is theirs? How did they earn it? The answer is usually the system we use, gave it to them. Supply and demand, opportunity, who ya know, or even accident of birth.

I think many of them think they were specially blessed to be rich. Like God picked them as better and decided they deserve more then others. Others whose suffering could be mitigated from the dispersal of that very wealth, caring for the weakest in society, and following the teachings of their own religion.

I wonder what I would do with the challenge, and test of being rich?

Note: and even if a rich person gave all their money to help others.(More then I believe I would do) What right do a few people have to decide the disposable income of society, and how and where it is spent? The only argument is they are 'better' thats why they are rich(see earned), or they are divinely blessed, but it could actually not be a blessing, but from the other side. So thats a dicey one to hang a hat on also.

I would guess many people that gain power from their wealth, rationalize that they are using their power to help society, by using their presumed 'greaterness' to guide society. Again a 'greatness' not defined by 'earned' nor proven as divinely blessed.

Guess that is why it says look at the fruits.

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Gman2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 08:58 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. The Republickers push calvinism. Believe and receive christianity is
the most vile form of religion known to man. Go to a believe and recieve church after a tragedy. They will start a whispering campaign about how you displeased God. Far from a community of suppo0rt, it is a clutch of hypocrites. Those that subscribe to this, are using it as a salve for their souls. Look at the guilt in Hollywood about their wealth. This subject should be aimed square at the rich. They should be Forced like the star of clockwork orange, to have toothpicks disallowing closed eyes, to watch their own countrymen starving and suffering in pain and death, cuz they refuse to admit they owe their countrymen anything for their comfort and position. Witness the almost necessary self deception of despots, that after recieving all the state power, must begin to see themselves as GOD. It seems the further that someone is removed from doing the actual work, they become ever more brilliant in their skills, judgmentandexecution, when they were. I can just hear the conversation with saint peter. But GOD made me a favorite. Look at all he gave me. Saint Peter says, were you to have shown that humility when alive, you would now be allowed in. Bubbye.
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 09:10 AM
Response to Original message
5. Higher taxes == "Socialize the profits, privatize the costs".
Just the way to reverse the pernicious effects of Raygunomics.
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Joe Chi Minh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 03:28 PM
Response to Original message
7. What compounds the injustice of this whole scenario, imo, has been the
Edited on Mon Dec-08-08 03:30 PM by KCabotDullesMarxIII
oceans of blood spilt and the suffering undergone during the various wars our countries have been involved in, particularly in the Europe - and still are - by the parents, grandparents and ancestors, generally, of this massive unerpaid proportion of the population. Do the rich really think that they made such sacrifices so that a tiny, parasitic elite should be the ultimate beneficiaries of all the sacrifices of the ancestors of the large majority of poorer folk, many indeed, destitute or a pay-cheque away from destitution?

At least, for some time now, we in the UK haven't had to hear that outrageous phrase coined and used so liberally by the Thatcherites, the words of some perhaps otherwise mute, but certainly egregiously inglorious Neo-Genesis, namely, "the wealth creators"!!!!

"In the beginning, Croesus created the heaven and the earth..."
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