June 9, 2021
Mega-rich investor Warren Buffett years ago famously acknowledged the existence of a class war, and quipped “my class is winning.” And how. Any doubt about just how bad the war is going for ordinary working people should be finally and fully erased by the report just published by ProPublica – https://www.propublica.org/article/the-secret-irs-files-trove-of-never-before-seen-records-reveal-how-the-wealthiest-avoid-income-tax – demonstrating how the hyper-wealthy avoid paying virtually any income tax, let alone their “fair share.”
Social work students are frequently incredulous as to how radical wealth disparity and tax system injustice like that revealed in the ProPublica story occurs in this, “the greatest democracy in the world.” After all, don’t “we” elect “our” representatives to make policy in the “public interest”? Well, that may indeed be what we think we’re doing when we dutifully turn out on election day, but the reality is quite otherwise.
In fact, the logic of economic injustice is quite simple, and hardly new, having been first identified for the written record by Aristotle – Concentration of wealth (and oh, man, is wealth concentrated in the U.S.) invariably leads to concentration of power (most notably in the the most straightforward way, by “buying” politicians, directly or indirectly), which in turn leads to further concentration of wealth via policies of various types, including tax policies extraordinarily favorable to the already rich.
Will this latest revelation of the class war spark outrage and substantive reform of the tax laws? We can hope, but it’s hardly likely without extensive and sustained popular agitation. Sadly, the first concern of the Biden administration seems to be tracking down the “illegal” leak of IRS tax records. It appears that it is the right of the Buffets, the Bezos, the Musks, and all the rest of the one-tenth of 1% to keep all the working stiffs in the dark about just how badly they’re ripping us off.