the top 1 percent

nytimes.com
Opinion | Stop Pretending You’re Not Rich
Forget the 1 percent for a moment. It’s the top fifth that rules.
By Richard V. Reeves

When I was growing up, my mother would sometimes threaten my brother and me with elocution lessons. It is no secret that how you talk matters a lot in a class-saturated society like the United Kingdom. Peterborough, our increasingly diverse hometown, was prosperous enough, but not upscale. Six in 10 of the city’s residents voted for Brexit — a useful inverse poshness indicator. (In Thursday’s general election, Peterborough returned a Labour MP for the first time since 2001.)

Our mother, from a rural working-class background herself, wanted us to be able to rise up the class ladder, unencumbered by the wrong accent. The elocution lessons never materialized, but we did have to attend ballroom dancing lessons on Saturday mornings. She didn’t want us to put a foot wrong there, either.

As it turned out, my brother and I did just fine, in no small part because of the stable, loving, middle-class home in which we were raised. Any lingering working-class traces in my own accent were wiped away by three disinfectant years at Oxford. My wife claims they resurface when I drink, but she doesn’t know what she’s talking about — she’s American.

I always found the class consciousness of Britain depressing. It is one of the reasons we brought our British-born sons to America. Here, class is quaint, something to observe in wonder through imported TV shows like “Downton Abbey” or “The Crown.”

So imagine my horror at discovering that the United States is more calcified by class than Britain, especially toward the top. The big difference is that most of the people on the highest rung in America are in denial about their privilege. The American myth of meritocracy allows them to attribute their position to their brilliance and diligence, rather than to luck or a rigged system. At least posh people in England have the decency to feel guilty.

In Britain, it is politically impossible to be prime minister and send your children to the equivalent of a private high school. Even Old Etonian David Cameron couldn’t do it. In the United States, the most liberal politician can pay for a lavish education in the private sector. Some of my most progressive friends send their children to $30,000-a-year high schools. The surprise is not that they do it. It is that they do it without so much as a murmur of moral disquiet.

Beneath a veneer of classlessness, the American class reproduction machine operates with ruthless efficiency. In particular, the upper middle class is solidifying. This favored fifth at the top of the income distribution, with an average annual household income of $200,000, has been separating from the 80 percent below. Collectively, this top fifth has seen a $4 trillion-plus increase in pretax income since 1979, compared to just over $3 trillion for everyone else. Some of those gains went to the top 1 percent. But most went to the 19 percent just beneath them.

The rhetoric of “We are the 99 percent” has in fact been dangerously self-serving, allowing people with healthy six-figure incomes to convince themselves that they are somehow in the same economic boat as ordinary Americans, and that it is just the so-called super rich who are to blame for inequality.

Politicians and policy wonks worry about the persistence of poverty across generations, but affluence is inherited more strongly. Most disturbing, we now know how firmly class positions are being transmitted across generations. Most of the children born into households in the top 20 percent will stay there or drop only as far as the next quintile. As Gary Solon, one of the leading scholars of social mobility, put it recently, “Rather than a poverty trap, there seems instead to be more stickiness at the other end: a ‘wealth trap,’ if you will.”

There’s a kind of class double-think going on here. On the one hand, upper-middle-class Americans believe they are operating in a meritocracy (a belief that allows them to feel entitled to their winnings); on the other hand, they constantly engage in antimeritocratic behavior in order to give their own children a leg up. To the extent that there is any ethical deliberation, it usually results in a justification along the lines of “Well, maybe it’s wrong, but everyone’s doing it.”

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[…] For the first time in more than 51 years, there are two cast recordings in the top 20 of the Billboard 200 chart. The original Broadway cast recording of Dear Evan Hansen debuts at No. 8 with 29,000 equivalent album units earned in the week ending Feb. 9, while still-hot Hamilton: An American Musical, moves from No. 12 to No. 13 (25,000 units; down 1 percent). The chart last housed a pair of top 20-charting cast albums way back in 1965, when the Broadway cast recordings of Hello, Dolly! and Fiddler on the Roof both occupied the region for 11 consecutive weeks, between Jan. 16 and March 27, 1965. Hello, Dolly! topped the chart for one week in 1964, while Fiddler On the Roof peaked at No. 7 in January of 1965. Both albums were particularly strong performers on the list, with Hello, Dolly! spending 90 weeks on the tally, and Fiddler charting 206 frames on the list.


As previously reported, Dear Evan Hansen’s bow at No. 8 is the highest debut for a cast recording on the chart since 1961, and marks just the fourth cast recording to reach the top 10 of the Billboard 200 in the last 50 years. In that span of time, the only previous cast albums to visit the region were: Hamilton (No. 3 in 2016), The Book of Mormon (No. 3 in 2011) and Hair (No. 1 for 13 weeks in 1969). […]

Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know about the Trump-Republican Tax Plan

Have you noticed that there’s no Trump tax plan and no Republican tax plan? All they’ve come up with so far is a bunch of platitudes about how nice it would be to cut taxes, simplify the tax code, and spur economic growth. 

Who doesn’t support these nice goals?

The reason there’s no tax plan is congressional Republicans are hopelessly divided on it.

Right-wing Republicans (the “Freedom Caucus” along with what’s left of the Tea Party) are most interested in reducing the size of the government and shrinking the federal deficit and debt.

Corporate and Wall Street Republicans – along with Donald Trump – are most interested in cutting taxes on corporations and the wealthy. They have the backing the GOP’s big business donors who stand to make a bundle off tax cuts.

Here’s the problem. You can’t have a giant tax cut for corporations and the wealthy, and at the same time shrink the federal deficit and debt – unless you make gigantic cuts in government spending on things the American public wants and needs.

According to the Congress’s own Joint Committee on Taxation, Trump’s proposed corporate tax cuts alone would reduce federal revenue by $2 trillion over 10 years.

Cuts of this size inevitably have to come out of the federal government’s three biggest expenditures, together accounting for over two-thirds of total government spending – Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and defense.

Even if you eliminated everything in the rest of the federal budget – from education to meals on wheels – you’re not going to get nearly enough to pay for the giant tax cuts Trump and his corporate and Wall Street Republicans are talking about.

But they wouldn’t dare shave a hair off Social Security. Americans who have paid into it for their lifetimes expect that it’s going to be there when they retire. Social Security is already facing some financial strains, and no politician with half a brain is going to slash it.

Medicare is almost as popular. Recall the Republican signs at Obamacare rallies that read “Don’t Take Away My Medicare.”

As to Medicaid, well, if Republicans learned one thing from the buzz saw they ran into over the Affordable Care Act it’s that they better not mess with Medicaid because a huge percentage of America’s elderly depends on it.

Which leaves defense spending. But wait. Donald Trump is on record as pledging to expand defense spending by 10 percent – $48 billion.

Then there’s the cleanup from Hurricane Harvey, estimated to be at least $150 billion. And more cleanup from Hurricane Irma, or any other of the hurricanes being dredged up by hotter oceans. There’s also Trump’s “wall” – which the Department of Homeland Security estimates will cost about $22 billion.

Oh, and don’t forget infrastructure spending. It’s just about the only major spending bill that could be passed bipartisan majorities in both houses. And given the state of the nation’s highways, byways, public transit, water treatment facilities, and sewers, it’s desperately needed. Trump’s budget allocates $200 billion of public money to this. 

These numbers put corporate and Trump Republicans into a bind.

The only way out of it is to pretend that big tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy will grow the economy so fast that they’ll pay for themselves, and the benefits will trickle down to everyone else.

But if you believe this I have several past Republican budgets to sell you, extending all the way back to Ronald Reagan’s magic asterisks.

Trickle-down economics is one of the few economic theories to have been tested in real life, and guess what? It failed miserably. Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush both cut taxes on the top and they ended up with huge budget deficits.

Corporate Republicans are claiming that taxes are way too high, nonetheless. Trump says we’re “the highest taxed nation in the world.”

Rubbish. The most meaningful measure is taxes paid as a percentage of GDP. On this score, we’re hardly overtaxed. The United States has the 4th lowest taxes of any major economy. (Only South Korea, Chile, and Mexico ranking lower.) 

The wealthiest 1 percent in the U.S. pay the lowest taxes as a percent of their income and total wealth of the top 1 percent in any major country – and far lower than they paid in the U.S. during the first three decades after World War II.

Corporate Republicans also argue in favor of an “amnesty” for global corporations that have been sheltering their profits abroad – allowing them to pay an even lower rate on repatriated earnings than they’re contemplating on domestic earnings.They say this will bring in big bucks that will be put to work for the economy. 

That’s rubbish too. We tried a tax amnesty back in 2004 and corporations used the extra cash to pay their shareholders more dividends and buy back shares of stock to pump up share prices. They clearly didn’t use the money to invest in more productive capacity, research and development, or jobs.

Let me be clear: There is absolutely no reason to lower corporate taxes. After taking corporate deductions and tax credits, the typical U.S. corporation today pays an effective tax rate of 27.9 percent. That’s only a tad higher than the average of 27.7 percent among advanced nations.

Plus, with corporate profits at all-time highs, corporations are already flush with cash.

There is also no reason to lower taxes on the wealthy, who are wealthier than they’ve ever been in history. They don’t need the incentive of additional wealth in order to work harder or innovate better.

Once again, Trump and the Republicans are coming up with solutions to problems that don’t exist, while ignoring big problems that need to be faced.

The only way to build good jobs and better wages in America is to invest in the American workforce – in education, job training, and the infrastructure that links Americans together. History has repeatedly shown that these public investments improve the productivity of Americans.

Corporate and Trump Republicans get it totally wrong.

So do the Freedom Caucus deficit scolds, who refuse to see that investing in the future productivity of Americans is entirely different than spending on today’s needs. 

No sane person would fail to make an investment that generated big returns because they didn’t to borrow money to pay for it. But that’s what the deficit scolds are arguing.

Instead of following either the corporate and Trump trickle-down tax cutters or the Freedom Caucus deficit scolds, we need to stop the madness on both Republican sides.

Say no to trickle-down tax cuts, and say no to mindless deficit reduction. Fight for public investments in our future.

President Trump and congressional Republicans have pitched their tax plan as a boost for the middle class.

“The rich will not be gaining at all with this plan,” Trump told reporters during a meeting with lawmakers in mid-September.

But analysts at the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center who studied the proposal reached a very different conclusion. They predict that nearly three-quarters of the savings from the tax overhaul would go to the top 20 percent of earners — those making more than $149,000. More than half the savings would go to the top 1 percent — people who earn more than $732,800. The tax breaks are even more tilted to the wealthy by the 10th year of the overhaul, when the Tax Policy Center projects nearly 80 percent of the savings would go to the top 1 percent of earners.

Administration officials have tried to discredit the center’s analysis, noting the tax plan is so far just a framework with many of the details still to be filled in by Congress.

Who Will Benefit Most From GOP Tax Plan? Early Report Suggests The Wealthy

Illustration: Roy Scott/Getty Images

nytimes.com
Opinion | Stop Pretending You’re Not Rich
Forget the 1 percent for a moment. It’s the top fifth that rules.
By Richard V. Reeves

I always found the class consciousness of Britain depressing. It is one of the reasons we brought our British-born sons to America. Here, class is quaint, something to observe in wonder through imported TV shows like “Downton Abbey” or “The Crown.”

So imagine my horror at discovering that the United States is more calcified by class than Britain, especially toward the top. The big difference is that most of the people on the highest rung in America are in denial about their privilege. The American myth of meritocracy allows them to attribute their position to their brilliance and diligence, rather than to luck or a rigged system. At least posh people in England have the decency to feel guilty.

In Britain, it is politically impossible to be prime minister and send your children to the equivalent of a private high school. Even Old Etonian David Cameron couldn’t do it. In the United States, the most liberal politician can pay for a lavish education in the private sector. Some of my most progressive friends send their children to $30,000-a-year high schools. The surprise is not that they do it. It is that they do it without so much as a murmur of moral disquiet.

Beneath a veneer of classlessness, the American class reproduction machine operates with ruthless efficiency. In particular, the upper middle class is solidifying. This favored fifth at the top of the income distribution, with an average annual household income of $200,000, has been separating from the 80 percent below. Collectively, this top fifth has seen a $4 trillion-plus increase in pretax income since 1979, compared to just over $3 trillion for everyone else. Some of those gains went to the top 1 percent. But most went to the 19 percent just beneath them…

There’s a kind of class double-think going on here. On the one hand, upper-middle-class Americans believe they are operating in a meritocracy (a belief that allows them to feel entitled to their winnings); on the other hand, they constantly engage in antimeritocratic behavior in order to give their own children a leg up. To the extent that there is any ethical deliberation, it usually results in a justification along the lines of “Well, maybe it’s wrong, but everyone’s doing it.”

The United States is the only nation in the world, for example, where it is easier to get into college if one of your parents happened to go there. Oxford and Cambridge ditched legacy preferences in the middle of the last century. The existence of such an unfair hereditary practice in 21st-century America is startling in itself. But I have been more shocked by the way that even supposedly liberal members of the upper middle class seem to have no qualms about benefiting from it…

Take housing, perhaps the most significant example. Exclusionary zoning practices allow the upper middle class to live in enclaves. Gated communities, in effect, even if the gates are not visible. Since schools typically draw from their surrounding area, the physical separation of upper-middle-class neighborhoods is replicated in the classroom. Good schools make the area more desirable, further inflating the value of our houses. The federal tax system gives us a handout, through the mortgage-interest deduction, to help us purchase these pricey homes. For the upper middle classes, regardless of their professed political preferences, zoning, wealth, tax deductions and educational opportunity reinforce one another in a virtuous cycle…

Self-interest is natural enough. But the people who make up the American upper middle class don’t just want to keep their advantages; armed with their faith in a classless, meritocratic society, they think they deserve them.

OMG SOMEONE SAID IT

Not being British myself, I’m always hesitant to offer opinion on the intricacies of British class politics. But I’m glad to know there is at least one Brit out there who shares my opinion that America is just as class-bound but far less class-conscious – and that in many cases this lack of class-consciousness amounts to a willful lack of self-awareness that serves only to make class barriers more rigid. 

Just fyi: If you didn’t like Trump/RyanCare, you’re not going to like the tax cuts any better.

99.6% – that’s 99.6 PERCENT – of the benefit will go to the top 1% of households … 

4

He was, as far as the training cadre and his peers were concerned, one of the best stormtroopers anyone had ever seen. He was everything their instructors wanted—loyal, dutiful, brave, smart, and strong. Whatever the test, whatever the evaluation, FN-2187 consistently scored in the top 1 percent.

Comments on child!Hux.

Some responses that I would like to signal-boost, to a post that asserts Hux has always been evil incarnate, and his behavior as a small child in Empire’s End s proof.

@reserve said:

1) I am inherently skeptical of [this post’s] interpretive merits because OP has stated on several occasions that they truly dislike Hux.

2) I am skeptical of anyone who denies the idea that abusive behavior is learned behavior. Children raised by parents who value violence and control over affection and nurturing will most likely suffer some level of maladjustment. [… Children] are not held accountable for their behavior as a predictive measure for their future selves.  

3) This post wildly misses the point that Armitage Hux is terrified of these children, nearly on the verge of tears, and shaking as he makes this command. He clearly hopes to assert some small, self-protective authority and ensure that he’s not about to be murdered by a trained gang of murder orphans. He is wildly outnumbered, and they are much bigger than him. He responds in a way that a) he was likely taught, and b) that seeks to assuage his fear.

4) Hux feels a strange and sinister buzz of excitement because he has never felt powerful before. This feeling is entirely new to him. Again, I’m not saying that it won’t define his future actions, but I am saying that exerting control when you’ve always been stripped of it, and taking pleasure in that, does not a future sadist make. Maybe it was formative, sure, but Hux has been told his entire very short life that he is weak and useless, and that’s canon. And welp, here is he, showing his canonically abusive father that he is not weak, that he is not useless. Just saying.

5) Rae Sloane, a grown woman, and a seriously high ranking imperial official, is afraid of these very same children. Tell me again that they are Hux’s peers.

PS: OP fails to mention that HUX IS FIVE YEARS OLD.


@sleepyowlet said:

I’d like to add that most five year olds have no concept of morality yet. It’s downright silly to expect them to know right from wrong, especially in extreme situations.

Also here we go again with the realistic villains/unrealistic heros thing - Rey and Finn are written with just as horrible backstories, but they are never tarnished. they came out of horrid circumstances as normal, well-adjusted people with functioning moral compasses (that kind of thing doesn’t happen. It just doesn’t; these things need to be taught). The more realistically written villains (Kylo and Hux) look twice as bad in contrast.

It all boils down to the good old portrayal of mentally ill people as monsters.


@illusion9 said:

Those children could kill without batting their eyes, but no one will comment them as “naturally evil” since they certainly  had been taught so. Then a five-year-old  who had been scared into tears by them is judged to be “evil out of his own choice”. Ironic comparison.


Keep reading

The very good news is that today, by a decisive vote, the people of France voted to reject racism and xenophobia. The bad news is that an extreme right-wing party received some 36% of the vote - far more than they had ever received before.

It is time for the political leadership in France, the United States, the United Kingdom and countries around the world to understand that the current structure of the global economy is leaving large portions of humanity behind. And those people are angry and discouraged. It is not acceptable that here and around the world there is a “race to the bottom” where hundreds of millions of workers are working longer hours for lower wages. It is not acceptable today that, globally, the top 1 percent now owns more wealth than the bottom 99%. It is beyond grotesque that the wealthiest 8 billionaires in the world own more wealth than the bottom half of the world’s population- some 3.7 billion people. In the United States and around the world we must create economies that work for all, not just the wealthy, the powerful and the greedy.

—  Bernie Sanders
huffingtonpost.com
7 Damning Facts That Prove Latinos Are Grossly Underrepresented In Hollywood
It's not getting better. It seems to be getting worse.

1. In 2016′s top films, only 3.1 percent of speaking characters were Latino.

2. Only one 2016 film featured a proportional representation of Latinos on screen.

3. 54 of the 100 films analyzed from 2016 had NO Latino speaking characters.

4. 72 of the 100 top films of 2016 had NO Latinas.

5. Only 1 Latina has directed a top 100 film over nine years.

6. No Latino actors or actresses lead or co-lead any of the top 100 films of 2016.

7. There were only 3 Latinos among the 39 actors that made up ensemble casts in the top 100 films of 2016.


Click the link for more details

“The people who voted for Donald Trump on the basis that he was going to be the working class billionaire, the ‘blue collar billionaire’ who would fight for them and fight against the elite, the economic elite — was a complete scam, let’s just be honest about it. He completely played these people and scammed them. Donald Trump is providing bread and circuses, rallies to entertain — generals named ‘mad dog’ which makes people feel good about themselves, they feel tough. Lots of rhetoric.

But he’s stocking his administration with the ultimate economic elite, the top .1 percent. Does anybody in their right mind think that the guy who runs Carl’s Jr. and Hardees Andrew Pugzer — who believes robots should replace all his workers because they will never strike, they will never take a sick day. He’s on the record, he’s not embarrassed about it … So the guy who wants to replace workers with robots, he’s your Labor Secretary, O.K.! — he’s for the working guy.’”

~~Joy Reid, MSNBC host and political analyst, May 23, 2017

What is essential to understand is that it’s not a vast crowd of black or brown people keeping white Americans out of the colleges of their choice, especially not the working-class white Americans among whom Trump finds his base of support. In fact, income tips the scale much more than race: At 38 top colleges in the United States, more students come from the top 1 percent of income earners than from the bottom 60 percent. Really leveling the admissions playing field, assuming the Trump administration actually cares about doing so, would involve much broader efforts to redistribute wealth and power. A focus on fringe campaigns against affirmative action suggests it does not.

Today, the top one-tenth of 1 percent owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. 

The top one-hundredth of 1 percent makes more than 40 percent of all campaign contributions.

In Manhattan, the upscale clothing retailer Barneys will replace the bankrupt discounter Loehmann’s, whose Chelsea store closes in a few weeks. Across the country, Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants are struggling, while fine-dining chains like Capital Grille are thriving. And at General Electric, the increase in demand for high-end dishwashers and refrigerators dwarfs sales growth of mass-market models.

As politicians and pundits in Washington continue to spar over whether economic inequality is in fact deepening, in corporate America there really is no debate at all. The post-recession reality is that the customer base for businesses that appeal to the middle class is shrinking as the top tier pulls even further away.

If there is any doubt, the speed at which companies are adapting to the new consumer landscape serves as very convincing evidence. Within top consulting firms and among Wall Street analysts, the shift is being described with a frankness more often associated with left-wing academics than business experts.

“Those consumers who have capital like real estate and stocks and are in the top 20 percent are feeling pretty good,” said John G. Maxwell, head of the global retail and consumer practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

In response to the upward shift in spending, PricewaterhouseCoopers clients like big stores and restaurants are chasing richer customers with a wider offering of high-end goods and services, or focusing on rock-bottom prices to attract the expanding ranks of penny-pinching consumers.

“As a retailer or restaurant chain, if you’re not at the really high level or the low level, that’s a tough place to be,” Mr. Maxwell said. “You don’t want to be stuck in the middle.”

Although data on consumption is less readily available than figures that show a comparable split in income gains, new research by the economists Steven Fazzari, of Washington University in St. Louis, and Barry Cynamon, of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, backs up what is already apparent in the marketplace.

In 2012, the top 5 percent of earners were responsible for 38 percent of domestic consumption, up from 28 percent in 1995, the researchers found.

Even more striking, the current recovery has been driven almost entirely by the upper crust, according to Mr. Fazzari and Mr. Cynamon. Since 2009, the year the recession ended, inflation-adjusted spending by this top echelon has risen 17 percent, compared with just 1 percent among the bottom 95 percent.

More broadly, about 90 percent of the overall increase in inflation-adjusted consumption between 2009 and 2012 was generated by the top 20 percent of households in terms of income, according to the study, which was sponsored by the Institute for New Economic Thinking, a research group in New York.

The next time you hear me attacked as a socialist—like tomorrow—remember this: I don’t believe government should take over the grocery store down the street or own the means of production, but I do believe that the middle class and the working families of this country who produce the wealth of this country deserve a decent standard of living and that their incomes should go up, not down.
 
   I do believe in private companies that thrive and invest and grow in America, companies that create jobs here rather than companies that are shutting down in America and increasing their profits by exploiting low-wage labor abroad.
 
   I believe that most Americans can pay lower taxes if hedge fund managers who make billions manipulating the marketplace finally start paying the taxes that they should.
 
   I don’t believe in special treatment for the top 1 percent, but I do believe in equal treatment for African Americans who are right to proclaim the moral principle that Black Lives Matter.
 
   I despise appeals to nativism and prejudice of which we have been hearing a lot in recent months, and I do believe in immigration reform that gives Hispanics and others a pathway to citizenship and a better life. I don’t believe in some foreign “ism”, but I believe deeply in American idealism.
 
   I’m not running for president because it’s my turn, but because it’s the turn of all of us to live in a nation of hope and opportunity not for some, not for the few, but for all.
—  Bernie Sanders