Blame the Poor

More please, sirCOMMEMORATING THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY of “THE WAR ON POVERTY.”

At 25 of the 100 largest U.S. Corporations, at places like Ebay, Boeing, and Verizon, the chief executive earns more than the entire company pays in federal income taxes. These patriotic chaps, who, in their defense, are merely competing in the Financial Olympics according to the official rules established by other patriotic chaps, earned on average $16.7 million in 2010. Gaming the system, you see, does not come cheap.

Meanwhile, as stockholders rejoice (or at least tacitly approve) the fiscal legerdemain, the rest of the country, those who lack the capital to gamble with other people’s money, are bracing for another blow to their dignity and their hopes. The number of Americans living in poverty – surviving on around $22,000 or less annually for a family of four – has surpassed 46 million, more than 15% of us. This is the highest total in 50 years.

Clearly, something is monstrously out of balance here, right?

Wrong, say the Republican candidates for President. Everyone gets what he deserves in this gloriously level playing field called free market capitalism.A Comic Book Villain named Mitt

The nasty implication in their increasingly unsubtle attack on the most vulnerable among us is that the poor are poor because of their sub-optimal behavior, and whatever they are “given” – like anything that smells remotely like economic justice – is too good for such underserving layabouts. The converse, equally popular among the Smuggies, is that the rich are rich because of their inherent virtuousness and industriousness, and whatever they are “given” – like yet another tax break – isn’t nearly adequate because they’re the catalytic engine of our economy.

The poor = barnacles on a sinking ship. The rich = intrepid job creators.

Although the top marginal income tax rates are at their lowest level since 1992 – and that’s with a Democrat in office! – we’re all hip to the truth: nothing is “trickling down.” The rich have done a piss poor job of creating jobs, of kickstarting the economy with all the money we’ve allowed them to accumulate, of repaying our confidence and trust in them with beneficial results for the lesser lights.

They have, however, done a fine job of hoarding capital. Good thing, too. The funds will come in handy to pay the salaries (and stock the ammunition depots) of the private security forces the rich will have to muster when the former middle class, reduced to serfdom and indentured servitude, takes up its pitchforks and demands that the drawbridge be lowered over the moat.

The Best Way to Deal With These PeopleWhen it’s still possible in our enlightened age to earn more than $200,000 in cash income – like, more than $1 million – and, with superior industriousness and virtue, avoid paying a penny in federal income tax, it seems a tad unfair to blame anything on the poor. Ours is a gaffed game, a con job in which “the turn” – usually a pretty lady skilled in causing a fortuitous distraction but here Wall Street Journal editorials  – re-focuses attention on those least capable of defending themselves. This is the reliable tactic of blaming the victim, but with an innovation: blame what your actions and policies helped create.

It’s time for the rich to return all the excess money the rest of the populous has allowed them to borrow and never repay. It’s time for them to truly give back to the country that gave them the Good Life. Should we be able to reduce our national poverty rate dramatically to, say, 10% (which, perversely, sounds downright acceptable in these troubled times) we could raise millions of souls out of misery and restore the vanishing middle class.

This approach has all sorts of lovely benefits. The chief one being the avoidance of another terribly messy and unfortunate Civil War.

19 comments to Blame the Poor

  • Dale in LA

    Who would you rather have in charge handling the money? SOmeone who has a good education and strong values or someone with a bad education? Unless you think we should be spending all our money on maltliquor and food stamps then there’s a reason why certain people are in charge. You’re a verty good writer, but you’re nuts. Sorry.

  • anonymous

    Amen, bro. Speak the truth.

  • Little Bird

    Thank you, MK. Something’s got to be said before something can be done. Keep saying what needs to be said. We appreciate it.

  • Mel

    “You can be what you want to be..” so goes the saying, to which some have achieved their dreams and some…well…
    The statements made regarding the “blame” between rich and poor are too general to ascertain who is to blame. Some become rich because they persevere. A good example is Kathryn Stockett, the author of the hit novel now a movie blockbuster, “The Help”. Before this came about, she was rejected 60 times before one publisher gave her the nod. Some people would have called it quits maybe after a dozen rejections and returned to a mundane but less painful life. Another example is J.K. Rowling. You know who she is but, did you know she used to be homeless? I think what we need to question here is a 6-letter word that seemed to have disappeared in lieu of a gold medal in this “Financial Olympics”. You guess what it is? It is ‘ethics’. A good number of these educated, well-oiled ‘managers’ need to question their ethics. Warren Buffett is a man of ethics and richer than most of these “managers”. He urged for more taxation on the rich. Bill Gates pledged to donate half his wealth to the betterment of life on earth. Ethics. Oh how a 6 letter word can distinguish a conscientious being to an animal. I say an animal because by nature an animal does what needs to be done to survive sans ethics.
    May I remind everyone that after a game of chess, the king, the pawns, go in the same box.

  • B.E.F.

    Two words: MILLIONAIRE TAX.

    Nuff said.
    #eattherichbeforetheyeatuptheentiremiddleclass

  • Michael Matthews

    Dear Michael,

    I have read your article with much interest. Something is wrong with chief executives of multi-billion dollars making so much money, but they pay less income tax then the people who work for them.

    I say, its about high times that they pay their fare share of taxes just like the rest of us who work for a living in the USA.

    Thanks Michael,for being on the side of the people

  • Dan Fitzgerald

    Michael, I’d say you write like a guy who once worked as a columnist at Pravda, but I don’t think the Communists were as obvious in their propaganda as you are.

    As someone once said, “Facts are stubborn things.” So allow me to set your record straight:

    On your twisted and fictional stereotype of Republicans relishing in the poor’s misfortune –
    While liberal families’ incomes average 6 percent higher than those of conservative families, conservative-headed households give, on average, 30 percent more to charity than the average liberal-headed household ($1,600 per year vs. $1,227).

    On your made-up notion that successful people hoard money and don’t give back—
    The latest data show that a big portion of the federal income tax burden is shouldered by a small group of the very richest Americans. The wealthiest 1 percent of the population earn 19 per­cent of the income but pay 37 percent of the income tax. The top 10 percent pay 68 percent of the tab. Meanwhile, the bottom 50 percent—those below the median income level—now earn 13 percent of the income but pay just 3 percent of the taxes.

    So Michael, instead of spending your energy on divisive tactics like class warfare and demonization of job creators—and now that you have the actual facts—the next time you run into a business owner or successful entrepreneur, just say, “Thank you for carrying the load. I appreciate you.”

    • Tam

      Here’s a quote for you, Dan:
      “My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress.
      It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.” — Warren Buffett

      Thank you, Michael, for such a well-written and powerful essay!

  • Tam

    Dan, your way of thinking is one of the main reasons the gap between the rich and the poor continue to widen. When did it become acceptable that the rich has millions & billions while the poor has close to nothing? If all the millionaires in the United States will only donate a portion of their money, we will be able to solve our health care problems, poor educational system and more. But no, greed takes over. That’s the beauty of capitalism.

    • Tam, I’m afraid, once again, the facts aren’t on your side. Studies show that you could tax the rich 100% of their income and it wouldn’t close the budget deficit, meaning that we still couldn’t afford to provide healthcare to all for free. Look, Tam (or whoever you are), I realize that you can’t refute my earlier posted stats that prove that the claims by everyone at this site are nothing more than pure demagoguery, but that’s okay. I understand that you all have a different mindset when it comes to how you view this country. In my opinion, it’s the greatest country. Yeah, that’s right. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best in the world. Capitalism, for example, is the greatest system in the world. I’m a fan of capitalism. It’s a system where ideas COMPETE in the free market place. Have you kinda like maybe like noticed that when big government runs something, it’s a mess? Have you caught on to that? You will (maybe). Capitalism has allowed our country to prosper and gave us ALL better lives. Problem areas in our society are a direct result of capitalism not being allowed to flourish. It has fostered many great ideas, including the car, the phone, the light bulb, and the computer you all type your anti-American nonsense on. Here’s your homework assignment… Please name another system that’s worked better. I’ll wait for your answer on that…..

      And let me tell you how I feel about your comment regarding “my way of thinking.” Yes, I want to do well. I want EVERYONE to do well. For example: I want every kid to get the best education in the best schools. Watch the documentary “Waiting for Superman” and tell me which political side has the inner city students’ best interests at heart. It ain’t the Democrats. But that’s only a slice of the tragic story of failed liberalism, with its bigotry of low expectations. You want to talk about the gap between the rich and the poor? How’s that “War on Poverty” working for ya? The socialistic ideas implemented by President Johnson in the 60s have been devastating. Devastating! Trillions later, things are worse than when the “war” began. If that was a war, I think we lost. It was just another BIG GOVERMENT idea–just like the ones you espouse now– that did so much damage to the African American community, including the destruction of the black family (70% out of wedlock birth rate now). No Republican I’ve ever heard of has been a willing party to these proven destructive polices. Clinton and the Republicans finally passed welfare reform together and it made things better. Government meddling was LESSONED. How ‘bout that? Hard to figure, huh? But liberals are the one group that seems to have to re-learn lessons again and again. I’m sure you know zero Republicans, so I’ll share a little insight with you…. we look at people as individuals–not a collection of groups and constituencies like today’s Democrats. You believe in a nanny state. I believe in the individual. I believe that if we free people up to be the best they can be, they’ll do great. If we tell them they can’t make it and someone will come along shortly to take care of them, things will get worse. Like Reagan said, “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government IS the problem.” We need to begin now with being honest with each other. Thank God the Republicans control ½ of Congress now. Somebody has to be the adult and put a stop to the real monster waiting to destroy us all—the Debt. Obama and his runaway debt train we’re all on now, if not reversed, will surely smack into a brick wall eventually. But look at the bright side, the rich/poor gap will be gone because we’ll all be poor and all the socialists on this website will finally be happy.

      I’m moving on now. This is not a thoughtful and serious website and deserves no more of my time.

      Adios amigos.

  • Lance B.

    Great Piece…

    Unfortunately, the point of giving to charity is a relatively minor one. I mean, is giving to The America Tract Society, who took in 1.6 million in “admin” costs make you a “gooder” person?

    http://www.mainstreet.com/article/moneyinvesting/news/20-worst-charities-america?page=7

    In fact, giving money alone is not the end all and be all of anything. Giving up time can in many ways can be far more valuable.

    I think its pretty clear that America is headed in the wrong direction of capitalism, (Although I’m a little biased as a Canadian), and from all my experiences in living in the US in the last few years, there is VERY clear gap from the Rich to what’s left of the Middle Class, to the Poor… Sorry for seeing it the way it is, letting the facts get in the way and all.

  • caterpillar

    Hello there, simply turned into your blog thru Google, and found that it is really informative. I will appreciate if you continue this in future. A lot of other folks will benefit from your writing. Cheers!

  • Catso

    The contents of your mind are a masterpiece of clarity. I am impressed. You’ve performed a fantastic process on this topic! The conservative and rich will call you crazy, but it is very clear to me. I think it is hard to argue with the truth.

  • Irv L.

    I wish to thank you so much for sticking up for the people who cannot defend themselves. Most poor people don’t have Websites with fancy blogs. They’re too busy trying to survive. You have given them a voice.

    The question is, are you poor? Do you REALLY know what being poor means?

    I do not claim to know the solutions. This is a fearsome matter, in my view. But finding a skilled essayist like has resolved me to look for intellectual fulfillment.

    I am happy to share this essay. In addition, I pray you really know what a great job you’ve done putting the THOUGHTS (and teaching somewhow) all through the Web.

    I am sure you haven’t got to know all of us. But we are out here, reading.

  • IRS

    Blame the Poor? I blame Michael Konik for monolpolizing my time.

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