As I have watched the economic crisis unfold, and the reaction of politicians, corporations, and the wealthy, it has become obvious that greed makes you stupid. When the economic crash happened and subsequently, some in DC, (most of the political left and none of those on the political right), have called for the top marginal tax rate to be raised to Clinton levels and subsidies to big oil discontinued. The wealthy and the oil companies have been fighting tooth and nail against this since it was proposed. That is going to turn out to be the biggest mistake they have ever made and here is why:
The top marginal tax rate right now is 35%. Raising it to Clinton era levels would make it 39%. For those making over $1 million a year, 96% of their income is taxed as capital gains, (at 15%). What that means is that if you are making more than $1 million a year, raising the marginal tax rate would have meant you were paying 4% more on about 4% of your income: A mere drop in the bucket, (about $1600 a year more if you are making $1 million).
The oil subsidies amount to $4 billion per year total among all of the oil companies.
What would have been the smart move? The wealthy should have come out and said: We want to support America and are willing to have the top marginal tax rate raised to Clinton era levels. The oil companies should have agreed to lose the subsidies.
This would have amounted to mere peanuts for them and it would have staved off OWS for a few more years at least as Americans would then feel like the wealthy and the large corporations were actually helping America instead of harming her like they are seen as doing now. It would have been great PR.
Now, the backlash is going to be brutal and the wealthy and the large corporations are going to be paying a lot more than they are now, and it is going to continue far into the future. (Think 93% top marginal tax rate and no capital gains tax like it was in the 50s).
This is the type of short-term thinking that is driving this country into the ground.
It isn’t just the wealthy and large corporations that are stupidly greedy either. On Black Friday a woman in a Wal-Mart pepper sprayed other customers to keep them away from the items that she wanted to purchase.
At another Wal-Mart an elderly man collapsed and the shoppers just walked over him on their way to their bargains.
When you have people pepper spraying other people and walking over dead bodies to save a dollar or two; that is the epitome of greed.
America is now a country where greed is celebrated and the poor are disparaged. As a country we have lost our moral compass. If we, as a country, don’t regain our sense of self, we will become the 21st century’s equivalent of Rome, Greece, Britain, and every other empire that has fallen. We cannot go on like this; what we are doing is unsustainable for the long-term.
It is time to make greed a sin again like it was prior to 1980.