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Robert Reich – A healthy dose of truth-telling

I’m a democratic socialist. It’s always a dangerous business traveling in my circles when I give a nod to someone who once ranked way up there in a Democratic administration. Sometimes, however, it’s warranted.

Robert Reich spoke at a conference in Minnesota yesterday entitled “Summit for a Fair Economy”. There’s no mincing words: he nailed it.

If I have any quibble at all, and I do, it’s that his call for using the tax system as the primary mechanism to deal with the inequities and political corruption caused by the perversely skewed distribution of wealth is not an adequate remedy. That plugs up at least part of the leak in the dam but does nothing to address the flooding that has already occurred. Even under the harshest “tax the rich” scheme, for example Reich’s call to eliminate the “capital gains discount tax rate”, the rich will continue to gain a greater share of national wealth than they currently have. Even if the top one or two percent could keep only ten percent of their annual income, that’s still far more than most Americans earn in a year. It’s still a rich-get-richer system.

To repair the already existing wealth gap, and here’s where Reich comes up a bit short, we need to seize 100% of all assets above some cutoff value. Whether that’s $5 million or $10 million or whatever it is, I’ll leave that to others to pin down.

Keep that in mind as you listen to Reich’s truly excellent speech.

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