I’m a little tired of the Wisconsin recall analysis and most of you probably are as well. I’d let it go if it were not for the continued hand-wringing. Steve Erickson at Prospect is one example – Obama, Post-Post-Partisanship. There are a few nuggets of warning worth paying attention to, but only so far as over confidence is never a good tactic. This is pretty much all anyone needs to know about what happened, Scott Walker outspent Tom Barrett ten to one. I cannot remember an election in which the spending was so lopsided and the underfunded candidate won. While there was out of state cash in both campaigns, the Koch brothers and conservative PACs bought Walker an election. Conservatives are all proud of themselves because as usual for them, it does not matter how they win as long as they win. President Obama still leads Mittens by 7 points. Democrats should pay attention to the mico analysis of the party pollsters and adjust accordingly, but other than that time to move along. A nice consolation prize was that as of today, sans a possible recount – Democrats took the majority in the state Senate. That means they can stop the most radical parts of the Walker-Koch brothers agenda.
The myth that they create wealth out of great risk of losing their own money – time and again when we pull back the curtain on the Conservative Potemkin Village we see that the capitalism they practice is a rigged game. They start a few steps ahead of everyone else. There is always someone there to help them. When they fail – like when G.W. Bush ran three businesses into the ground and daddy’s friends came to the rescue – there is always someone or government there to pay for their failures. Companies Run By Romney’s Private Equity Firm Received Millions In State And Local Government Subsidies
During Romney’s years as chief executive of Bain Capital LLC, companies owned by the firm received millions of dollars in benefits from a variety of state and local government economic development programs.
In California, taxpayer money built one Bain company a conveyor bridge between two of its buildings. New York City gave another Bain company tax breaks and lower energy bills to discourage it from moving to New Jersey. And in Indiana, a county government issued bonds to help buy new equipment for a Bain-owned steel plant — a business success featured in a Romney campaign ad touting his private sector prowess.
As ThinkProgress has reported, in his campaign ads, Romney has been citing the Steel Dynamics as an example of where his business acumen help turn around a company and create jobs. Steel Dynamics benefited from $37 million in subsidies from the state of Indiana.
Conservatives at this point just start yelling Solyndra – which supposedly makes the endless number of subsides and handouts to conservatives justified. The self-made conservative- born in the woods who pulled themselves up by their own boot-straps without any help from anyone, ever, is a fairy tale. In a speech he gave several times President Obama has referred to the “ladder of opportunity”. Search for the phrase and you’ll find countless far Right web sites going bonkers over the idea that government might play some role in maintaining that ladder. Sure occasionally some conservative site will right some boiler plate about subsidies, but that is all it is. There is no great conservative Republican push in Congress or in state houses dominated by Republicans to end subsidies and other economic incentives – that artificially create, I don’t know, call them ladders of opportunity for very wealthy corporations and corporate raider firms like Bain. The Price of Inequality and the Myth of Opportunity
America likes to think of itself as a land of opportunity, and others view it in much the same light. But, while we can all think of examples of Americans who rose to the top on their own, what really matters are the statistics: to what extent do an individual’s life chances depend on the income and education of his or her parents?
Nowadays, these numbers show that the American dream is a myth. There is less equality of opportunity in the United States today than there is in Europe – or, indeed, in any advanced industrial country for which there are data.
This is one of the reasons that America has the highest level of inequality of any of the advanced countries – and its gap with the rest has been widening. In the “recovery” of 2009-2010, the top 1% of US income earners captured 93% of the income growth. Other inequality indicators – like wealth, health, and life expectancy – are as bad or even worse. The clear trend is one of concentration of income and wealth at the top, the hollowing out of the middle, and increasing poverty at the bottom.
It would be one thing if the high incomes of those at the top were the result of greater contributions to society, but the Great Recession showed otherwise: even bankers who had led the global economy, as well as their own firms, to the brink of ruin, received outsize bonuses.
Wisconsin or Florida’s governors may not seem important, but they are in many ways the front guard in making sure America, the land of opportunity stays a myth. Individual anecdotes about some conservative working three jobs do not make the cut when discussing economic issues. Statistics tell the tale. The average American worker has not had a real rise in thirty years – the Saint Ronnie revolution. A Guide to Statistics on Historical Trends in Income Inequality
The broad facts of income inequality over the past six decades are easily summarized:
The years from the end of World War II into the 1970s were ones of substantial economic growth and broadly shared prosperity.
Incomes grew rapidly and at roughly the same rate up and down the income ladder, roughly doubling in inflation-adjusted terms between the late 1940s and early 1970s.
The income gap between those high up the income ladder and those on the middle and lower rungs — while substantial — did not change much during this period.
Beginning in the 1970s, economic growth slowed and the income gap widened.
Income growth for households in the middle and lower parts of the distribution slowed sharply, while incomes at the top continued to grow strongly.
The concentration of income at the very top of the distribution rose to levels last seen more than 80 years ago (during the “Roaring Twenties”).
Note that 1985 was when working started to pay dramatically less than gambling with other people’s money. there is something called the knowledge economy. Some supposedly smart people have special skills in finance, statistics etc that deserves greater compensation. Who decides that even those people really deserve over 75% or more than a bricklayer, nurse or customer service associate.
Gail: You see the recall as a test case on whether the public will make the hard choices when it comes to reducing our debt. I saw it as a test of the current Republican strategy of putting all the sacrifice on the backs of the un-wealthy. Announcing that public employees have to get fewer benefits and lose their power to negotiate isn’t a hard choice if you happen to be the party that does not benefit from much union support.
David: I’m not sure what you mean by less wealthy. These particular public employees were receiving benefits and pensions far above those received by the median earner in Wisconsin. But this is a national problem. In state after state, from New York to Illinois to California, the lavish over-promises made to public employees are squeezing budgets, making it harder to fund schools and social programs and all the rest.
If there was a reality show called Best Impression of a Brick Wall, Brooks and his ilk would easily win. Public employees negotiate for wages. Most get a little less than the private sector in exchange for their pensions – which in some cases can range from staggering amounts like $800 to $1800 a month. Don’t conservatives respect negotiated legally binding contracts. This is another area where conservatives have had some success cultivating some misdirected resentment. Some voters sees their financial situation as precarious and public employees as being on easy street. Instead of being pro labor and helping themselves to some job security, a good 401K plan and some time off to spend time with their families, they want to take those things away. Yet they admire and buy into the self made multimillionaire myth that the Romney-types spread around, as though some of that corporate raider pixie dust will rain down on them some day. Brooks also continues the conservative meme that in hard times sacrifices must be made – but not from hedge fund mangers, or Donald Trump, or the Koch brothers, but from some woman who cuts the grass in highway medians for $10 an hour. This fits in with the Republican resentment against low income workers who end up paying no federal income tax. Yet they not only have plans to extend the Bush tax cuts, but create more cuts for those making $250k per year.