I’ve been thinking about the Wall Street gamblers and their reluctance to share their winnings with the rest of us. Perhaps President Obama should put it to them this way:
Look guys, you used the country’s rent money to play your high-stakes games. So where’s our cut ?
Surely, that’s the kind of talk gamblers understand. The house always gets a share of the pot.
Obviously, there’s no way for the rest of us to win in the prevailing economic system. Ever since America went global, the country’s wealth has been draining away – along with millions of jobs. And the politicians just keep making things worse.
Here’s how economist Jeffrey Sachs put it in a Salon.com interview today:
The main effect of globalization, which is known but somehow weirdly separated from our politics, has been that those who have products, or services, or celebrity, or other things that they can sell to world markets, have found a boon in globalization. But for most of American society, and certainly for the majority of Americans who don’t have a bachelor’s degree, globalization has meant facing much lower-wage workers abroad and increasingly powerful competitive pressures. So our society began to separate between the “haves” and the “have-nots,” really in the early 1980s. And while this crucial dynamic was underway, American politics was going in almost the opposite direction.
The players who profit most from the system include investors and traders. Huge sums from around the world end up on the Wall Street gaming tables. While American factory workers get laid off, investors create jobs in low-wage unregulated countries – and reap huge profits in return. Big-money players bet these profits in the U.S. stock market, bringing in obscene gains.
The winnings are generously shared (via bonuses) with the Wall Street croupiers who run the gaming tables. But Uncle Sam gets stiffed.
It’s a bad joke that the Wall Street crowd pay 15 percent on their “capital gains,” while salary earners pay tax rates twice as high.
So when Uncle Sam asks for a fair share of the pot, the high rollers shouldn’t blink.
Yet their’ Senate lackeys dug in their heels last night. Every Republican and two rat-fink Democrats (Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Jon Tester of Montana) voted against the president’s bill to finance job-creating public works with a 5-percent surcharge on millionaires. And when the bill squeaked through despite this opposition, the Republicans resorted to a filibuster to block it.
I wonder what would have happened to cheats like these back in the Wild West?
And I wonder how long today’s Americans will accept this kind of cheating at the global card table?