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- “It’s not on all of your income. It’s on your 10 millionth-and-one dollar. So after you make $10 million in one year, your dollars after that start to get progressively taxed at a much higher rate.”— Ocasio-Cortez, on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, Jan. 22
Believe it or not, that place was the USA! Where did it go?
The prevailing ethic of today’s billionaire’s club is one of entitlement, superiority and grandiosity — including flaunting their wealth like the robber barons of old. For example, a ludicrously large “house” is under construction in Florida for one of our modern-day barons, boasting 11 kitchens, five swimming pools and a 30-car garage. Worse, the billionaire class is asserting its sense of plutocratic privilege by weaponizing their huge fortunes. They’ve been spending massively (and often secretly) to build a culture of inequality across our land. To their dismay, however, America’s workaday majority is rebelling, with newly elected democratic populists like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez proposing a 70 percent tax rate on income above $10 million. “Oh, the horror,” shrieked billionaires like computer magnate Michael Dell (estimated net worth: $28 billion): “Name a country where that’s worked. Ever,” he demanded dismissively.
Okay, Michael: How about the United States?
Yes, between the end of World War II in 1945 and Ronald Reagan’s start of coddle-the-rich government in 1981, the top tax rate never fell below 70 percent — and that was a period of unparalleled growth and prosperity for America’s middle class.
Dell, who lives in a sprawling 33,000-square-foot house with all the charm of a shopping mall, confuses value with money and has no grasp of the essential richness of American egalitarianism. We should not be listening to people like him (much less being governed by them) just because they are rich.
You can contact Hightower at jimhightower.com. The Washington Post’s Jeff Stein considered the tax-dollar potential of Ocasio-Cortez’s idea: tinyurl.com/WAPO-AOC-tax.