Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls
from: althouse.blogspot.com

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Where the money is

Les Leopold has a good piece that puts things nicely into perspective.

We can't tackle the jobs crisis until we're willing to tackle Wall Street. Both Democrats and Republicans have stood idly by as the wage gap has turned into a Grand Canyon of inequality. (In 1970, the top 100 CEOs made 45 times more than the average worker; in 2008, they made 1,081 times more. See The Looting of America) Almost no one in Washington has the nerve to challenge Wall Street's socially useless and reckless financial games. They're afraid to say that it's wrong that the top 25 hedge fund managers made as much money during 2009 as 658,000 teachers -- or that the top ten hedge fund managers "earn" $900,000/hr. The money for job creation is right there, in the hands of the elites who profited so handsomely from the financial meltdown they helped create.

The American people are hungry for proposals to rectify this injustice. Why not turn Wall Street's ill-gotten gains into programs that put our people back to work? Here's a plan we'll probably never hear from Democrats, Republicans or the Tea Party:

Place a windfall profits tax on the super-rich who profited from our bailouts to pay for the jobs that these gamblers destroyed.

Call it a windfall profits tax or a financial transaction fee. But really it's reparations, long overdue. Tens of millions of Americans are suffering through no fault of their own. These working people didn't buy houses they couldn't afford. They didn't gamble their life's savings on derivatives and securitization.. They just went to work one day and were told their job was gone. They came home to find their neighborhood disintegrating as the housing bubble burst around them. All thanks to reckless financial games on Wall Street.

Appealing to hedge fund managers to do the right thing probably won't work. Creating incentives that reward making new jobs at home, and discourage "outsourcing," might actually work. The U.S. economy is by no means a pure free market system. If it were, big oil would be facing far more competition in the energy market. It is instead a system where the super wealthy use their overwhelming political clout to rig the system in their favor. Those of us in the bottom 98% who want to see change must set aside our differences over minor issues, and insist that our so-called representatives in government actually defend our interests.

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