As the economic straits of a growing number of Americans and of local, regional, state and federal governmets become increasingly dire, I keep wondering, if nobody has any money, where has it all gone? I think this is the answer.
Cities are broke.
Counties are broke.
States are broke.
People are broke.
Corporations are ... oh.
Corporations are flush with money.
Corporations are enjoying record profits.
This, as the rest of the country tries to claw back from the worst recession we have suffered through since the Great Depression.
Maybe that's where all the money has gone.
Maybe that's is why everyone else is broke.
New York Times columnist David Brooks said the other day to, "Make Everybody Hurt."
I agree, should that become necessary. But it might not be.
First, let's exempt those who are already hurting.
Let's start inflicting pain at the top.
Let's start with the CEOs whose corporations are rolling in dough and whose bonuses suffered no recession. Here are bonuses gifted to the top three CEOs in 2010, a decidedly bad economic year for the rest of the U.S.
1. H.J. Heinz top exec William R. Johnson, $8.6 million. That's just his bonus, and it's 17.6% higher than the year before. His total income for last year? More than $882 million.
2. Oracle CEO Lawrence J. Ellison, $6.5 million, up nearly 80%.
3. Cisco CEO John T. Chambers, $4.6 million, up 126%.
Let's start with Messers Johnson, Ellison, Chambers and their fellow elites in the country's top 1% income bracket who got their Bush tax cuts extended.
Let's start with the hedge-fund billionaires -- the top 13 of whom earned an average of $1 BILLION each last year -- but get to claim their income as capital gains. I say "get to" because the capital-gains tax rate is 15% rate, instead of as regular income at the appropriate tax bracket, which is 35%.
Taxing their intake as regular income within the same income tax rate structure as the rest of us, would create enough revenue to pay for 300,000 teachers. Three-hundred thousand! Maybe forcing those in the top income tax to actually pay income taxes instead of a 20% lower capital gains tax would mean classroom-sizes in Detroit could be reduced from the 62 students necessary because the education budget there has been decimated. Maybe then Detroit teachers could get back to actually teaching and helping kids learn instead of just being adult supervisors in holding pens for adolescents.
American capitalism advocates say, hey, the rich have earned it. Maybe so. But that shouldn't give them special privileges and special ways that enable their money to be taxed at a lower rate than the income of the rest of us get.