Nel's New Day

October 14, 2012

Conservatives Erase the American Dream

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 7:36 PM
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One of the most important times of my days is “tea-time,” an occasion that my partner and I set aside before dinner when we talk about the past 24 hours. (“Tea-time” might be a misnomer because our “tea” varies from juice to the harder stuff, but it’s symbolic of sharing and focus.) Part of our conversation surrounds what makes us feel good about recent events and what makes us feel grateful. As always, I’m grateful for my partner, our pets, our home, and our security, however temporary it might be.

Yesterday one of the topics was the “American Dream”—what it is now, what it used to be, and why it changed. When I grew up, the dream was owning one’s own house, however small it might be, and having a secure job. But today more and more people are far away from this dream because the wealthy wants to possess the country’s entire resources even if it eradicates the dream for the majority of people in the United States.

How much money is enough? The Koch brothers are worth $62,000,000,000. The Walton family was worth $89.5 billion in 2010, the same as the bottom 41.5 percent of all U.S. families combined. That’s 48.8 million American households. That means that these eight people are worth more than the 47 percent that Mitt Romney says are mooching freeloaders. Yet these eight people aren’t satisfied with how much money they make. They’re working to elect Republicans who will lower their taxes to give them billions more.

Romney is much poorer at only $250,000,000, but he’s working to get more. With his tax shelters and his covert participation in Bain Capital, he gets more and more millions every year. He supposedly lives modestly (if you discount all his huge homes with the car elevators). If so, why does he need that much more money? When presented with these statistics, conservatives say that these people deserve this money because they work hard. But do they truly put in millions and billions of extra effort?

As most people know, the separation between the wealthy and the other 90 percent increases each year. The average net worth of a member of the Forbes 400 hit $4.2 billion, the highest level it’s been in at least a decade and up from $3.8 billion last year. After taking the government to the brink of shutdown and default in 2011, the House GOP voted to give the rich and corporations more than $3 trillion in tax breaks in its budget this year. If Republicans take over the Senate and presidency, they will succeed in doing this.

Income for the top fifth of American households rose by 1.6 percent last year, driven by even larger increases for the top 5 percent of households, said David Johnson, a Census Bureau official.  Yet median household income after inflation fell to $50,054, a level that was 8 percent lower than in 2007, the year before the recession took hold. There were 46.2 million people, 15 percent of the population, in poverty in the United States last year. That’s because most of the country’s resources go to the top 5 percent, wealthy people who do nothing to create jobs for those in poverty.

A major reason that the wealthy get wealthier is that they get the vast majority of tax breaks in this country. Romney criticizes the 47 percent because they are freeloaders on the other 53 percent. In fact, the other 53 percent receive their own form of government assistance in disproportionately benefiting from the federal government’s $1.08 trillion annual allocation for tax breaks. 

The top 1 percent of tax filers earning over $400,000 collected 23.9 percent (about $258 billion) in reduced taxes through deductions and exclusions. The top 10 percent of filers took in 40.3 percent (more than $435 billion). On the other hand, the bottom 60 percent of tax filers got just 20.1 percent of the tax reductions from deductions and exclusions, $217 billion or half of what was claimed by far fewer top earners in the U.S.

Between 1989 and 2010, the top 1 percent of the population went from holding 30.1 percent of the wealth to 34.5 percent, while the bottom 50 percent went from having 3 percent of the wealth to having just 1.1 percent. The share of wealth held by the next 40 percent of people, up to the 90th percentile, had also dropped, from 29.9 percent to 24.3 percent. Ten percent of people have 74.5 percent of the wealth.

And that’s why many people live like the ones in these photographs by Ann Hubard. And they will be joined by many more if people like Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan get their way.

Every afternoon when my partner and I have tea-time, I say how grateful that I am for achieving my American dream. Conservatives may also be grateful, but they want to take away the dreams from other people in the country.

This quote of the week comes from Janis Lane, president of the Central Mississippi Tea Party: “Our country might have been better off if it was still just men voting. There is nothing worse than a bunch of mean, hateful women. They are diabolical in how than can skewer a person.”


  1. I’m beginning to believe money is only a side benefit. What they’re really after is power and control. Control of America essentially gives them North America. North America is the world’s largest source of fresh water in the world. huge tracts of forest, oil, coal, natural gas, gold and on. Right now there are some places they’re not allowed to exploit. Control lets them open any place they want for whole sale extraction without any regard for what it will destroy. Today matters, tomorrow doesn’t. Their descendants will be okay — for a while — and everybody else is valued only for what they can make.

    Isn’t that what Ayn Rand say was the best society? A small group of superior, wealthy men who oversee the rest of society, which neither have anything but contempt for. It’s coming and it would get a real boost if they take control of the government and I seriously fear for this country.


    Comment by gkparker — October 14, 2012 @ 8:24 PM | Reply

  2. Third world American dream. Powerful photos and blog.


    Comment by lynchly — October 14, 2012 @ 8:02 PM | Reply

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