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December 19, 2006


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Scott Hughes

It's the poor and hunger, namely the working poor, who I'd like to see get the money. Unfortunately, the hunger and poverty epidemics cannot be ended simply by throwing money and other resources at them. We also need to utilize wisdom, (non-governmental) organization, voluntary cooperation, and persistence.

Scott Hughes

john buell

If one is going to address the massive inequalities in wealth to which Jodi's provocative post refers, there are at least two tasks. 1)Mainstream media portray these vast bonuses as rewards for extraordinary contributions to the productivity of our business enterpirses and thus as beneficial to the rest of us. If one taxes away or otherwise limits these bonuses, then these cleaver financial types will not have the incentive to work their magic. I think there are two answers to this line. There is no evidence that at least modest increases in the progressivity of the tax structure has a negative bearing on work effort. But secondly, many of these bonuses go for orchestrating mergers and acquisitions that not only often do not enhance but often detract from the productivity of the overall economy. The same can be said for many of the IPOs that are the carling of Wall Street. Readers of this blog might be interested in Doug Henwood's book, Wall Street and in his regular monthly newsletter, Left Business Observer. I think Henwood is the most subtle and wideranging left economic journalist going today.

Secondly, the larger dilemma here is that large numbers of Americans think they are going to become rich, even very rich. This aspirational politics stands in the way of conventional liberal or social democratic impulses and I am not sure what to do about this. I do think that arguments about fair taxation as a way of expanding equality of economic opportunity may have some purchase. I also think that many Americans still care about fairness and about meeting promises. One of the adverse effects of some of the financial manipulations is that pension obligations are scrapped, and the loss of these pensions in turn leads to the quest for individual riches. So for lots of reasons left and liberal types need to focus on what is happening to pensions. They also need to address the very flawed right wing argument that Social Security is going under.



Bonuses are taxed at 48% and Social Security is more screwed up than Iraq.

Julio Urgel

2006 Wall Street Bonus Survey


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