Given the state of the global economy, it might not surprise you to learn that psychopaths may be controlling the world. Not violent criminals, but corporate psychopaths who nonetheless have a genetically inherited biochemical condition that prevents them from feeling normal human empathy. Scientific research is revealing that 21st century financial institutions with a high rate of turnover and expanding global power have become highly attractive to psychopathic individuals to enrich themselves at the expense of others, and the companies they work for. A peer-reviewed theoretical paper titled “The Corporate Psychopaths Theory of the Global Financial Crisis” details how highly placed psychopaths in the banking sector may have nearly brought down the world economy through their own inherent inability to care about the consequences of their actions ...
Tag Archives | Inequality
An incisive new article by Tim Dickinson of Rolling Stone looks back to the ’80s, and describes how Republican Party came to abandon fiscal responsibility in favor of endless tax subsidies for the rich:
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The nation is still recovering from a crushing recession that sent unemployment hovering above nine percent for two straight years. The president, mindful of soaring deficits, is pushing bold action to shore up the nation’s balance sheet. Cloaking himself in the language of class warfare, he calls on a hostile Congress to end wasteful tax breaks for the rich. “We’re going to close the unproductive tax loopholes that allow some of the truly wealthy to avoid paying their fair share,” he thunders to a crowd in Georgia. Such tax loopholes, he adds, “sometimes made it possible for millionaires to pay nothing, while a bus driver was paying 10 percent of his salary — and that’s crazy.”
Preacherlike, the president draws the crowd into a call-and-response.
We usually associate the terms “occupy” and “Israel” in a different political context…But, this summer the country saw massive demonstrations (including tent cities) to draw attention to social inequality, in what was arguably a blueprint for Occupy Wall Street. And there have been encouraging results: the conservative Israeli government is shifting more of the tax burden onto corporations and the super-rich. Could this happen in the United States, also? Via GlobalPost:
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Israel’s summertime protest movement, which was occupying “Wall Street” before it was cool, can now celebrate their first major tangible success.
At a Sunday cabinet meeting the government approved the restructuring of Israel’s tax system, shifting a few degrees of the social burden onto corporations and the very rich.
On Monday, legislators received the new tax plan for approval, alongside a lengthy list of demands for financial reform and social justice that were nonexistent when the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, was last in session and which have been catapulted to the forefront of a pre-electoral year.
We feel instinctively that societies with huge income gaps are somehow going wrong. Richard Wilkinson charts the hard data on economic inequality, and shows what gets worse when rich and poor are too far apart: real effects on health, lifespan, even such basic values as trust.
Occupy George is a (presumably illegal) attempt to convey the reality of wealth distribution in the United States to the public by adding pertinent information to paper currency and circulating it as needed. Now your money will have informational as well as purchase value. Download their templates or order the custom stamps, and you can begin minting your own Occupy George bills at home:
Money talks, but not loud enough for the 99%. By circulating dollar bills stamped with fact-based infographics, Occupy George informs the public of America’s daunting economic disparity one bill at a time.
Tax the rich. Those bastards. I get why people who aren’t rich hate those that are. No one really cares what they have, they only care what they have relative to others. When there is inequality, and there always is, even the hyper intelligent call for a redistribution of wealth. It’s an enduring longing for us as a species, and no evidence to the contrary will convince people it just doesn’t work in any large group. What I really didn’t understand until recently though is why so many rich Americans seem to loathe their richness as much as everyone else does. Many in Silicon Valley want to tax the rich into the middle class and let government spend and spend and spend. The super rich tech elite flock to Obama, joining in the call to screw the rich as loudly as all the rest. Then I figured it out. As I wrote then, the super rich won’t mind at all if we “tax the rich” as it’s currently defined. That’s because people who are super rich don’t really pay taxes...
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Pretty much everybody thinks they’re better than average. But in some cultures, people are more self-aggrandizing than in others. Until now, national differences in “self-enhancement” have been chalked up to an East-West individualism-versus-collectivism divide. In the West, where people value independence, personal success, and uniqueness, psychologists have said, self-inflation is more rampant. In the East, where interdependence, harmony, and belonging are valued, modesty prevails.Now an analysis of data gathered from 1,625 people in 15 culturally diverse countries finds a stronger predictor of self-enhancement: economic inequality.
“We don’t know the precise mechanism, but it seems unlikely that it is primarily an East-West difference,” says University of Kent research associate Steve Loughnan. “It’s got to do with how your society distributes its resources.” The study — whose 19 collaborators represent 16 universities around the globe — will be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
Via Who Rules America?, a financial manager provides his perspective on the wealthiest one percent and 0.1 percent of Americans — i.e. his clients — regarding who they are, how they got so rich, and why he worries that they have too much power:
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Membership in this elite group is likely to come from being involved in some aspect of the financial services or banking industry, real estate development involved with those industries, or government contracting.
Recently, I spoke with a younger client who retired from a major investment bank in her early thirties, net worth around $8M. Since I knew she held a critical view of investment banking, I asked if her colleagues talked about or understood how much damage was created in the broader economy from their activities. Her answer was that no one talks about it in public but almost all understood and were unbelievably cynical, hoping to exit the system when they became rich enough.
Warren Buffett says we need a significantly higher income tax for the super-rich. But could that argument be a red herring? Partial Objects writes that the real conversation we need to be having is about taxing wealth — i.e., Buffett’s $45 billion fortune, not the paltry millions he made in 2010:
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Warren Buffett wants us to stop coddling the super-rich. He argues for superlatively higher taxes on those with incomes greater than $1 million a year.
Let’s say we take Buffett’s advice, and we raise taxes so that those highest 400 income earners pay an additional 20% more in income taxes (i.e. 41.5 instead of 21.5). That would mean an additional $18 billion in revenue. Nice, right?
The US doesn’t tax wealth, but other countries do. If we did, at a modest 10%, it would mean an additional $140 billion in revenue every year. But we never talk about taxing wealth, only income.