Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What is the Economy, Anyway?

By Ann Manning

The current GOP leadership and their colleagues in the Minnesota House and Senate are the unfortunate victims of the Taxpayer’s League and Governor Tim Pawlenty’s foolish “no new taxes, ever” pledge. I suspect many Republican legislators know that the best thing for Minnesota right now is to ask everyone to pay their fair share -- and that means a small tax increase for the top 2 percent of Minnesota’s high-income households.

When I hear the conservative mantra that we are unfairly “taking from the rich,” I want to remind them that in any legitimate democracy we all benefit from and “take” from each other and the rich do take from the middle class and the poor. The amazing public systems in this country -- physical infrastructure, patents and trademark protection, public schools, libraries, and hospitals -- are something we built together, as citizens. The wealthy have not only benefitted enormously from these investments we all helped build, but over the past 30 years, they have further used their wealth to enact tax policy to benefit themselves disproportionately to the rest of the citizens.

Corporations, who are also doing enormously well, have slowly but steadily eroded the power of workers and shifted a disproportionate share of the enormous economic growth in this country to the top. Wages and household income for the middle class and the poor are either flat or down over the past 30 years. We all know what’s happened at the top --astronomical increases in income and wealth. This is not the “invisible hand” of the market. This is cronyism in the boardrooms of America and the power of money to write the rules.

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