This is a good read from RealClearPolitics:
The hard-right conservatives who dominate the Republican Party claim to despise the redistribution of wealth, but secretly they love it — as long as the process involves depriving the poor and middle class to benefit the rich, not the other way around.
That is precisely what has been happening, as a jaw-dropping new report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office demonstrates. Three decades of trickle-down economic theory, see-no-evil deregulation and tax-cutting fervor have led to massive redistribution. Another word for what’s been happening might be theft. The gist of the CBO study, titled “Trends in the Distribution of Household Income Between 1979 and 2007,” is that while we’ve become wealthier overall, these new riches have largely bypassed many Americans and instead flowed mostly to the affluent.
Overall, in inflation-adjusted dollars, average after-tax household income grew by 62 percent during the period under study, according to the CBO. This sounds great — but only until you look a little closer.
For those at the bottom — the one-fifth of households with the lowest incomes — the increase was just 18 percent. For the middle three-fifths, the average increase was 40 percent. Spread over nearly 30 years, these gains are modest, not meteoric.
By contrast, look at the top 1 percent of earners. Their after-tax household income increased by an astonishing 275 percent. For those keeping track, this means it nearly quadrupled. Nice work, if you can get it. The right maintains that inequality is the wrong measure. To argue about how the income pie should be sliced is “class warfare,” and what we should do instead is give the private sector the right incentives to make the pie bigger. This way, according to conservative doctrine, everyone’s slice gets bigger — even if some slices grow faster than others.
Indeed, the CBO report says that even the poorest households saw at least a little income growth. Why is it any of their business that the high-earners in the top 1 percent saw astronomical income growth? Wealthy individuals and corporations have disproportionate influence over public policy because of the often decisive role that money plays in elections. If the rich and powerful act in their self-interest, as conservative ideologues believe we all should do, then the rich and powerful’s share of income will continue to soar.
Second, and more broadly, the real issue is what kind of nation we want to be. Thomas Jefferson’s “All men are created equal” is properly understood as calling for equality of opportunity, not equality of outcomes. But the more we become a nation of rich and poor, the less we can pretend to be offering the same opportunities to every American. As polarization increases, mobility declines. The whole point of the American Dream is that it is available to everyone, not just those who awaken from their slumbers on down-filled pillows and 800-thread-count sheets.
275% growth for the rich and 18% growth for the poor?? You do the math.