From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/02/02-0
by Robert Freeman
Published on Sunday, February 2, 2014 by Common Dreams
The Tom Perkins “billionaires-as-victims” charade couldn’t be more surreal. It goes without saying that his comparing the 1% to victims of Hitler’s genocide is tasteless. That it is oblivious is obvious. And that Perkins himself suffers from paranoid delusions must be suspected.
But there are deeper reasons for plumbing the pathology of Perkins’ rant. As background, let’s recall some basic facts.
Over the past 30-odd years, since Reagan, a vast share of the nation’s income and wealth has been transferred from the poor, working, and middle classes to the very wealthy. Twenty five years ago, the top 1% of income earners pulled in 12% of the nation’s income, today they get twice that, 25%. And the rate of transfer is accelerating.
In the ten years between 1996 and 2006 67% of all the growth in the entire U.S. economy went to the top 1% of income earners. Between 2009 and 2012, 95% of all the new income produced in the economy went to the top 1%. What about everybody else?
Since the late 1970s, labor productivity in the U.S. has risen 259%. If the fruits of that productivity had been distributed according to the capitalist ideal that a person gets what he produces, the average person’s income would be more than double what it is today. The reality?
Median male compensation, adjusted for inflation, is lower today than it was in 1975, a full generation ago. A staggering 40% of all Americans now make less than the 1968 minimum wage. It’s the exact opposite of the cultural myth of shared prosperity and opportunity for all.
The rich are getting richer, and everyone else is getting poorer. That is not an ideological statement. It is an empirical one. Perkins believes that simply discussing such facts cannot be allowed. The rich may only be addressed in terms that signal deification.
But underlying Perkins’ tirade is a conviction that the super-rich have earned everything they’ve gotten and so are beyond reproach. Have they?
An enormous amount of the gains by the super-rich have flowed to those in the finance industry. But much of that has been the result of naked fraud and outright criminality, for example in the mortgage, mortgage securities, and derivatives markets. The simple fact of banks being “too big to fail” (an immunity to failure underwritten by the government) is worth tens of billions of dollars a year. And do we even need mention the trillions of dollars of bailouts lavished on the banks, even as millions of mortgage holders were losing their homes?
Continue reading at: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/02/02-0