Friday, November 15, 2019
New York Times op-ed: Are Billionaires Bad for Democracy?, by Michael Tomasky:
I’m not expert enough to judge the wisdom of Senator Warren’s proposed wealth tax. ... So this column is not a brief for Ms. Warren’s wealth tax or for her candidacy — I don’t have a preferred candidate. Instead, I want to make a simple plea to the country’s billionaires: Multibillion-dollar fortunes are often called excessive and decadent. But here’s something they’re rarely called but ought to be: anti-democratic. These fortunes will destroy our democracy. ...
[A]ny democracy needs a robust and thriving middle class, and we have spent the last 30 or so years transferring trillions of dollars from the middle class to the people at the very top. Just one set of numbers, from the University of California, Berkeley economist Gabriel Zucman: The 400 richest Americans — the top .00025 percent of the population — now own more of the country’s riches than the 150 million adults in the bottom 60 percent of wealth distribution. The 400’s share has tripled since the 1980s.
This is carnage, plain and simple. No democratic society can let that keep happening and expect to stay a democracy. It will produce a middle and working classes with no sense of security, and when people have no sense that the system is providing them with basic security, they’ll make some odd and desperate choices. ...
Democracy is in peril. If the world’s democracies don’t start delivering more secure lives for working- and middle-class people again, they may not be democracies for much longer. Stability has a price, and someone will have to pay. How about the people with the money?