Letter to the East Hampton Star published Sep. 28, 2017
There is so much in the news today about oligarchs. Do most readers know who or what they are?
“Siri,” I asked into my iPhone, “what is the definition of oligarch?” Up popped the following screen:
1. a ruler in an oligarchy, and
2. (especially in Russia) a very rich businessman with a great deal of political influence.
Here in the U.S.A. we have our own oligarchs, such as the infamous Texas Koch brothers. And our oligarchs are not just businessmen, as the definition says, but women as well. Take Rebecca Mercer, who, with her extended Mercer family, contributes heavily to politicians, including our own congressman, Lee Zeldin.
How does it work here? To stay in their jobs, politicians have to spend an inordinate amount of time raising money — that’s our system. And what do these oligarchs get out of this; how do they rule? Well, for one, they get huge tax breaks.
I had to laugh when I got an email from Mr. Zeldin the other day, asking if I was in favor of tax reform. Who isn’t, but what kind? Giving tax breaks to the Mercers and their kind is not what I consider reform.
Has Mr. Zeldin been hoodwinked, or are we being hoodwinked? We need to pay taxes; the government can’t run on wind. And the rich should pay their fair share — period. The goodies that are supposed to trickle down from rich people’s tax savings are such a small trickle, if at all, that “trickle down” is a joke, a joke played on us.
I say no tax cuts for the rich, Mr. Zeldin; they are doing just fine. If you don’t believe me, ask Siri.
During the presidential campaign last year, we learned about Hillary Clinton’s income. Her $10,594,529 adjusted gross income (AGI) puts her in the top 1% of earners. Altogether, the top-earning 1% of taxpayers reported 20.6% of all AGI and paid 39.5% of total income taxes. Since President Trump never released his tax returns we dont know where he fits in. You can find out where you stack up on this site:
Looking at overall wealth inequality is even more striking:
top 0.1% worth as much as the bottom 90%.
Not since the Great Depression has wealth inequality in the US been so acute. And the trend is growing! Unbelievable.