People with incomes in the top 2 percent should rejoice at the added taxes just passed by Congress. The additional taxes will not have a major impact on the standard of living of the rich, yet they fail to recognize the long-term benefits they will get.
When a great disparity occurs in democracies, the numerical power of the have-nots will grow and rival the monetary power of the haves. This results in a critical instability that will lead either to legislation that redistributes wealth or a revolt at the ballot box.
The unfair tax code of the past 15 years has resulted in a widening of income disparity in the United States. The rich have gotten richer, the poor got poorer, and the middle class has stagnated or been diminished.
Eighty years ago, before the Great Depression, we had a similar situation brewing that might have resulted in a social revolution but for the effects of President Roosevelt’s New Deal.
The United States should take a lesson from contemporary Venezuela. The rich minority ignored the needs of the poorer majority. The poor found their status worse each year and the rich, comfortable with their prosperity, refused to see or acknowledge the growing gulf.
The result was a revolt at the ballot box and the election of a populist demagogue. Hugo Chávez is routinely mocked and reviled in the U.S. press, but the sociological statistics tell a different story.
Since Chávez’ ascendency to power, poverty has been reduced 50 percent and extreme poverty by 70 percent. College enrollment is up 50 percent and medical care is free for all Venezuelans. Gasoline is subsidized and costs 17 cents a gallon.
The increased taxes on the rich and the social benefits that the Obama administration has established or increased should be viewed as safety valves to keep the U.S. from a severe revolution at the ballot box. The wealthy class should welcome the peaceable redistribution of wealth and as soon as the Republican Party realizes this, and incorporates such policies into their platform, the better our nation will be.
Harvey Rosenwasser, Key Biscayne