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The Grand Delusion: Higher Taxes "Soak" the Rich

Squeezing, gouging, soaking, it's all the same, and it's all wrong. The richest Americans, we hear it said, pay most of the federal income taxes. That's true. But since 1980 their AFTER-TAX SHARE of America's income has TRIPLED. That's a trillion dollars a year in extra income for the wealthiest 1%. 

A trillion dollars is seven times more than the budget deficits of all 50 states combined. 

A trillion dollars, if it hadn't been redistributed to the rich, would provide an extra $10,000 a year for every family that has contributed to American productivity since 1980. 

The defenders of unlimited wealth insist that the very rich have earned their money. But what does EARN mean? Does it mean that the million richest families worked harder than the other 99 million families for thirty years? Does it mean that one man can bet against the mortgage industry and make enough money to pay the salaries of 100,000 health care workers? Does it mean using American research and infrastructure and national security to build a corporation that pays zero federal income taxes? 

Most of the fortunate 1% benefited from tax cuts, financial system de-regulation, ownership of 50% of the stock market, and a 15% capital gains tax. According to a study by the University of California, in 2008 only 19% of the income reported by the 13,480 individuals or families making over $10 million came from wages and salaries. 

The very rich claim that their income growth stimulates the economy. But it hasn't happened. Low-income earners spend a greater percentage of their overall income on consumption, but they have less purchasing power than they had thirty years ago. 

What the very rich won't admit is that they benefit the most from government-funded research, national security, infrastructure, property rights, and a financial industry tailored to their pleasure and profit. 

Instead, they claim that anyone can be rich if only they work hard. Much of America wouldn't know if this is true. They haven't had a chance to work lately.

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Paul Buchheit

Paul Buchheit

screen_shot_2017-01-23_at_8.39.57_am.pngPaul Buchheit is a college teacher, an active member of US Uncut Chicago. His latest book is, Disposable Americans: Extreme Capitalism and the Case for a Guaranteed Income. He is also founder and developer of social justice and educational websites (,,,  and the editor and main author of "American Wars: Illusions and Realities" (Clarity Press). He can be reached at paul [at] UsAgainstGreed [dot] org.

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