Tag Archives: Upton Sinclair

Two thoughts from Sinclair and Hightower

by Nathaniel Smith, Politics: A View from West Chester, 12/18/14

Upton Sinclair said in 1935:

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”

Do we need to know more to see why, in the age of Citizens United, the US Congress doesn’t want to understand anything scientific except the science of gerrymandering

So let’s update to:

“It is difficult to get Congress to understand global warming, when its reelection depends upon not understanding it!”

Jim Hightower asked, in “The Hightower Lowdown,” July 2014: “If the government says that money is speech, and more money can buy more speech, doesn’t that mean that speech is not free?”

That would be the Supreme Court, those nine immortals who are almost the most important branch of the government, because they can tell the other two branches what they can and cannot do, especially when those two have trouble coexisting on the tree.

Corporations run on the principle that the more shares you own, the more votes you cast. So by that reasoning the more money you have, the more votes you should have, right? Now there, Mr. Chief Justice, is an idea whose time is rapidly coming, if you and your friends choose to give it a push.

I didn’t even make that one up. See “Tom Perkins: People With More Money Should Get More Votes” by Jillian Berman, Huffington Post, 2/14/14. Here’s the gist of the controversial venture capitalist’s idea: “The Tom Perkins system is: You don’t get to vote unless you pay a dollar of taxes…. You pay a million dollars in taxes, you get a million votes.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Nathaniel Smith, US Congress - other, Voting rights

The Undeserving Rich

By Paul Krugman, The New York Times, 20 January 14, at RSN

The reality of rising American inequality is stark. Since the late 1970s real wages for the bottom half of the work force have stagnated or fallen, while the incomes of the top 1 percent have nearly quadrupled** (and the incomes of the top 0.1 percent have risen even more). While we can and should have a serious debate about what to do about this situation, the simple fact — American capitalism as currently constituted is undermining the foundations of middle-class society — shouldn’t be up for argument.

But it is, of course. Partly this reflects Upton Sinclair’s famous dictum: It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it. But it also, I think, reflects distaste for the implications of the numbers, which seem almost like an open invitation to class warfare — or, if you prefer, a demonstration that class warfare is already underway, with the plutocrats on offense.

The result has been a determined campaign of statistical obfuscation. At its cruder end this campaign comes close to outright falsification; at its more sophisticated end it involves using fancy footwork to propagate what I think of as the myth of the deserving rich.

**Trends in the Distribution of Household Income Between 1979 and 2007, Congressional Budget Office, October 25, 2011

After-Tax Income Grew More for Highest-Income Households

After-tax income for the highest-income households grew more than it did for any other group. (After-tax income is income after federal taxes have been deducted and government transfers—which are payments to people through such programs as Social Security and Unemployment Insurance—have been added.)

CBO finds that, between 1979 and 2007, income grew by:

275 percent for the top 1 percent of households,
65 percent for the next 19 percent,
Just under 40 percent for the next 60 percent, and
18 percent for the bottom 20 percent….

homepage_graphic_large

read more and download full CBO report at Congressional Budget Office

Leave a comment

Filed under 2014 election