The Transfer of Wealth Myth

I recently received a chain email with one of those great American myths: that somehow the poor are the advantaged people in American society, feeding off of hard working Americans.

Our educators should make a lesson plan on these statements and instill these words in the minds of all students instead of doing the opposite.

  1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.
  2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.
  3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.
  4. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that, my dear friend, is the beginning of the end for any society.
  5. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it…”

– Adrian Rogers, 1931

This would be funny if it were not such an integral part of the naïve American psyche, if we didn’t think that somehow we were constantly being cheated by the poor — contrary to every possible fact, statistic, and evidence imaginable. Of course, I am not arguing that government intervention, welfare programs, and “socialism” are the answer. Nevertheless, the reality of American economic policy under both the Republicans and Democrats since the 1980s has proven to be nothing other than a massive transfer of wealth from the taxpayers to the rich, not the other way around. As Paul Krugman recently explained about the Republican revered Reaganism,

Let’s talk for a moment about why the age of Reagan should be over.

First of all, even before the current crisis Reaganomics had failed to deliver what it promised. Remember how lower taxes on high incomes and deregulation that unleashed the “magic of the marketplace” were supposed to lead to dramatically better outcomes for everyone? Well, it didn’t happen.

To be sure, the wealthy benefited enormously: the real incomes of the top .01 percent of Americans rose sevenfold between 1980 and 2007. But the real income of the median family rose only 22 percent, less than a third its growth over the previous 27 years.

Moreover, most of whatever gains ordinary Americans achieved came during the Clinton years. President George W. Bush, who had the distinction of being the first Reaganite president to also have a fully Republican Congress, also had the distinction of presiding over the first administration since Herbert Hoover in which the typical family failed to see any significant income gains.

The Republican “no government intervention” doctrine is little more than a sham whereby the government steps in time and again on behalf of the rich. Not that the Democrats aren’t part of the problem. The best example is how, first with Bush and then followed by Obama, the taxpayers just bailed out Wall Street, and now Wall Street is celebrating what JP Morgan recently called their “best year yet”; the taxpayers their worst.

Meanwhile, the American press with the indignation of the Republicans has decried the abuse of taxpayer money by the corrupt ACORN. How stupid do they think we are? ACORN is an irrelevant nothing. In thirty years, Acorn received in government funding roughly what Halliburton, Dick Cheney’s former company, received per day during the entire Iraq war. Furthermore, every single major military contractor still receiving taxpayer dollars has been convicted of fraud at least once in U.S. courts. But, we have ACORN hysteria.

The whole idea that the poor keep benefiting at the cost of the rest of Americans wouldn’t be such a laughable farce if it weren’t for the fact that people actually believe it. Since when have the poor gotten richer and the rich poorer in this country? And yet we continue to be a country that believes deeply that “we” are being played, victimized by the poor. Who would you rather be in the U.S.? A poor woman milking the welfare state or Liz Cheney, who — along with every other child of the rich and famous — has trouble landing a job she deserves based on merit alone?

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11 Comments

Filed under Essays

11 responses to “The Transfer of Wealth Myth

  1. Krugman is another half-wit plebe who just doesn’t get it:

    It isn’t the government’s fault, or the policies, or the legislation, or, or, or …

    Back to square one:

    Social Contract Theory. It has been abandoned, by all in positions of power. Because, that is what power does, by its very nature … is corrupt. Again, I’m not grousing, I just want my turn.

    Machiavelli anyone? Once your populace drops its ethics and becomes corrupted, only a tyrant can change things; and even then, not without some rather serious issues arising, that most can’t stomach.

    On the ACORN “hysteria” … give me a break.
    They were caught on video, freely giving information on running brothels for kidnapped teenage girls, and how best to do it to make it look legitimate, escape taxes and government scrutiny, and how to get mortgages for a business front.

    If you don’t think that Obama’s organisation is worth bringing down over that, then you seriously need some psychiatric intervention. Yes, it is OBAMA’s organisation, by his own claims.

    Why do you continue talking about a nobody like Liz Cheney, there is only about .01% of the population who’d even care she exists?

    But while you’re grousing about her and the other elites … who makes them famous? Who makes them elite? Who makes them rich?

    I’ll give you the answer: every single “keeping up with the Jones'” minded plebe, idiot, dolt, fool, cretin, moron, mongoloid, retard, idiot in this country who places all value on the material … give me a percentage for that?

  2. ReWrite

    Eric, excellent post.

  3. P.S. The real laughable farce: actually believing “everyone can win” …

    Not how it has ever worked in all of human history. Nor will it ever; but at some point soon, we will all find out what it is like to fail utterly as a society.

    “Hope and change” ~ into the the same old status quo … now that is funny. Strange how you aren’t picking up on his corruption? You only seem to have an eye on what already happened. Where in the Constitution is the authority to appoint “czar” positions, completely voiding the vetting process? Can you name one that isn’t a felon/terrorist/pedophile?

    HMmmmmmmmm … lack of objectivity? By the way, those defense contracts are still being paid, without question. ACORN isn’t about the money, (a pittance), it is about the worst sort of depravity … promoted by Maobama, himself.

  4. eric

    I thought I had included Obama in furthering the status quo and have been pretty tough on him overall, including asking whether he was in fact just as bad as or worse than Bush for maintaining all of the Bush policies.

    We have a continuium in the US of pro-war, pro-corporate welfare that transcends parties. Every president “has to” escalate wars or invade at least one country during his presidency and there is a revolving door between Goldman Sachs and the Treasury regardless of the White House tenant.

  5. That’s one I don’t get.

    What does Goldman Sachs have or do, that they get the blank check from the Treasury, regardless of who’s running the muck?

    ?

    Are they part of the war machine? Or do they have stake in our debt with China?

  6. eric

    They have a stake, they get free money from the Fed, they get the benefits of upstream risk, taxpayers assume the negative risk (debt from bailouts, paid for China). We work for them.

    The war-machine gets a similar free pass.

  7. Borja

    Eric, I can’t believe a big proportion of educated Americans can believe this myth. Really americans believe that being poor is something that you deserve for being lazy or something like that? Are people so simplistic?

  8. eric

    Borja,

    It is very much part of the Protestant/Qakar ethic, and also part of what gave us Manifest Destiny…the world is ours to take.

  9. LOL, I want someone to show a definition of “educated” that has a meaning beyond “I went to college/fulfilled my requirement of the social contract …”

    Most who use the word “educated” actually just mean “schooled” and the two are not, in any way, tantamount.

    That’s the first problem. Second problem is, there’s always more excuses for being poor in America, than actual reasons. Considering the number of social programs/racial and ethnic entitlement programs … anything short of doing what it takes, is just an excuse.

  10. eric

    So basically you are saying that the fact that only a tiny percentage of Americans — only the wealthiest ones — have benefited from the “economic prosperity” over the past 30 years is solely a function of that group trying harder? And that failure to improve economically by the majority is the result of entitlement programs transferring wealth to the poor? Even though the government just transferred billions to the wealthiest group?

    Get over it! Stop letting yourself be fooled. Stop buying what they are selling you.

  11. You are proving my point; apathy is the problem.

    See, you are making the fatal mistake made by 90% of the global population: the fallacy of induction, because mentally, it’s far easier to be lazy, (apathetic), and assume what validates a bias, than to actually do the research.

    So, I’ll give you a headstart. Let’s go back to the Romans, the great ones, the ones who actually engineered the literary art known as “satire”.

    Go find out what Gaius Lucilius, the father of satire, especially political, was saying in his time. Which by the way, was 180 b.c.e., so that I can easily surpass the 500 year Machiavellian mark of constant human behavior ~ and take it 2000+++ years of behavioral status quo. How about Quintus Horatius Flaccus? Titus Petronius Niger? Marcus Valerius Martialus? And let’s not forget, one of the all time favorites, Decimus Iunius Juvenalis. He being Rome’s greatest satirist.

    For a change, go learn something that doesn’t come from the media, or fiction, or internet conspiracy sites …

    Then come back and tell me I’M the one whose mind has been bought. You cannot become la Dotta, by believing what others say, only by investigating for yourself.

    You still can’t do it, until you understand that most special Roman quality, sprezzatura.

    But, I already know what the outcome will be; summarily, nil. You won’t do it. The reason is simple; if you have to face your assumptions and accept the error of induction, it is just as Albert Einstein stated:

    Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.

    Albert Einstein

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