Letters to the Editor

Economic myth

March 7, 2009


To the editor:

How is the trickle-down economy working for you? “The rich make us all richer”? (Cal Thomas, March 6). Can we stop repeating this falsehood? It doesn’t now nor has it ever squared with the facts. In 2006, the top 0.01 percent of Americans averaged 976 times more income than the bottom 90 percent. The only other time the number was so high was in 1928, when the average was 892 times, and the economy was wiped out a year later.

The concentration of wealth has not, as Cal suggests, “made us all richer.” To the contrary, if you churn through U.S. census data and labor statistics data, you will see that over the last 40 years, real incomes have grown substantially for the top 10 percent (household income around $100,000 and up), and not at all or very little for everyone else.

So please stop foisting the great lie that all boats rise when the rich do well. It was not true prior to the Great Depression and it is not true now. As Warren Buffett told the New York Times, “There is class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, and we’re winning.”

Paul Atchley,


Chris Ogle 8 years ago

the top 10 percent (household income around $100,000 and up),

Just about what it takes for a family of four to "live" in Lawrence.

Left_handed 8 years ago

The so-called trickle down did work, but the Republicans spent like Democrats. Under the "Bush Tax Cuts for the Rich" the federal government enjoyed record federal revenues. That wasn't widely reported by the Democrat loving news media. The Republican crime was not trickle down, but profligate federal spending. Now we have a Democrat administration spending even more profligately and likely raising taxes. Raising taxes will lower revenues, making the Obscene Obama Deficit even bigger. Just watch.

bearded_gnome 8 years ago

and oh by the way, the top 5% of american income earners pay 60% of federal taxes. disparity will grow much worse with Obama's tax increases. that fair too? rather like punishing success?

Obamanomics: punish the successful; reward the failing.

and now Obama wants to give "mortgage relief" to people who shouldn't have taken those loans beyond their means in the first place...to "keep them in their homes!" making responsible mortgage payers very mad out here.

insane to raise taxes of any kind in this kind of economic conditions. but then if the democrats took the current conditions seriously they wouldn't have larded up the "stimulus package" or the current spending bill that got choked out in the Senate.

Jim Phillips 8 years ago

"Hydra (Anonymous) says…

I can think of a few reasons.

Greed, selfishness and a general lack of anything remotely resembling common decency within the republican party or the religious wrong!"

Yeah! Just where exactly do those greedy blowhards (aka The Ants) get off thinking they should keep what they have earned? Take their money and give it to those poor people who choose to sponge off of everyone else (aka The Grasshoppers). After all, it's only fair that we all live the "Chicken Little" life.

Hmmmm! Guess we didn't learn much from those stories.

Jim Phillips 8 years ago

Judging from your talking points temper tantrum, you are definitely not the adult you speak about.

Hoots 8 years ago

I'm all for people making a buck. It takes money to start a business, pay employee's, bring new ideas to reality, and many other things that make the world go round. Unfortunately, it seems things have really gotten out of balance. CEO's of big companies in this country are compensated at never heard of historic highs. Even in light of the fact it now seems that many of those millions and billions have been made through pure fraud and at the least criminal mismanagment. AIG for example didn't follow any prctice in line with the laws on insurance yet we have all bailed them out to the tune of $1200 per household and counting. As I see our governement continue to send more of our money to those responsible and to keep compensating the managers and CEO's of these companies that caused such a mess on a world scale I have to feel discouraged and angry. I feel as if Congress is giving a nice fat check to the vary people that just looted our homes, stole some people's futures, and then flew off into the sunset with not a worry for their crime. Take a pair of jeans from Wal-Mart and go to jail. Commit a fraud that rocks the world and get a bonus...Unbelievable.

gl0ck0wn3r 8 years ago

"parrotuya (Anonymous) says… DOWn, baby, DOWn!"

What a fascinating rant. I assume, of course, that you do not have a 401k or any retirement savings? I also assume that you do not work for a company or organization that relies upon investment products for operations? Otherwise your glee regarding the DJIA makes no logical sense... particularly given the fact that you seem to believe the new administration is (or will) improve the economy.

patchley 8 years ago

Ah, someone raised the "punish success" argument. Thank you!

Look, no one who is a serious businessperson is just in it for the money, it is about success itself. To those who complain that they might not bother if taxes are high, I say "Fine, there are three businesspeople behind you waiting for your customers".

Riddle me this: How was it that when the top marginal tax rate was between 65 and 94% between 1944 and the mid 70's we were able to rebuild the world, expand out economy, dominate in science and technology, and go to the freaking moon if no one wanted to succeed because their taxes were too high?

The answer is that concentrated wealth doesn't do much. People who want money for money's sake are not the people are worried about success as measured by non-monetary outcomes.

Richard Heckler 8 years ago

Then why do so many jump on the "free lunch for the wealthy" train right here in Lawrence,Kansas each time Chestnut,Dever,Amyx and Hack say we should? Comm Hack and Comm Amyx have been providing this free lunch for years and years with Commissioners Dever and Chestnut doing the same thing.

It's about to happen one more time based on speculation with that aircraft design business. The commissioners say "well we must take some risks" that is to say they must risk OUR tax dollars. NO way jose'. Thats what the banksi are for!

How many ways do we taxpayers screw ourselves for the wealthy you ask?

“Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (And Stick You with the Bill).” Johnston reveals how government subsidies and new regulations have quietly funneled money from the poor and the middle class to the rich and politically connected. http://www.democracynow.org/2008/1/18/free_lunch_how_the_wealthiest_americans

More Free Lunch aka icing on the cake. This report identifies the most common free lunch items for the wealthy and provides examples from across the United States. For each free lunch choice on the menu we provide analysis and solutions. http://www.sierraclub.org/sprawl/report00/intro.asp

Stephen Roberts 8 years ago

Translation of Merrill posts- It is not fair that the wealthy have more money than me. They should be taxed and taxed and taxed until they have some amount of money as me. I am for anything as long as I do not have to pay more taxes for it.!!!

beatrice 8 years ago

"the top 5% of american income earners pay 60% of federal taxes."

And given that the top 5% OWN more than 60% of the wealth, I don't see how that is a problem. Is anyone thinking that the wealthy should pay less than their share?

Simple question -- we saw massive tax cuts for the wealthy under Bush, but are we better off today because of them?

Mixolydian 8 years ago

(Anonymous) says…

I can think of a few reasons.

Greed, selfishness and a general lack of anything remotely resembling common decency within the republican party or the religious wrong!

At the risk of wading into all this without my aluminum hat, I would point out that the top 50 wealthiest congressional members are pretty evenly split in a rare bipartisan showing, with the top two wealthiest members being democrats..the democrats owning 6 of the top 10 spots. Moreover, the states with the highest number of those self identified as religious and conservative far outgive secular liberal states in charitable giving. For example, Mississippi eclipses Massachusetts in charitable giving by a wide margin.

Oh, and those using RepubliKlans..or dummicrats.....you're not clever or witty. You're boring.

gyroduck 8 years ago

"Be sure that you give the poor the aid they most need, though it be your example which leaves them far behind. If you give money, spend yourself with it, and do not merely abandon it to them. We make curious mistakes sometimes. Often the poor man is not so cold and hungry as he is dirty and ragged and gross. It is partly his taste, and not merely his misfortune. If you give him money, he will perhaps by more rags with it." Henry David Thoreau

We live in a country where we can start a business and become rich or we can choose to be a puppet and have a job and make someone else rich limiting our income by choice for the luxury and ease of being not having to keep our own books. We are lucky, very lucky and I am grateful this opportunity and if I can not take advantage of it and fully develop my own life, I have none to blame, but myself. People are weak! People don't read or develop their minds! And what they do read are rags not the noblest thoughts of humanity, they soak themselves in pop culture and gossip with people just like themselves rather than rising by finding mentors and people who have become rich. How can people become rich when they hang around the same poor people day after day who never learn anything new or question their own self-limiting beliefs about themselves or get pushed to do more? People waste their lives away working to have what others have rather than cultivating their own talents and gifts and joining the growing mass population in a state of victim hood happy enough to spend the few dollars they save up on liabilities that cost them more of their life and they happily sign the lease documents for things they can not afford. A few people are rich because only a few people are self-reliant enough to do something with them and refuse live like the rest of the world, creating their own context rather than being dependent on public opinion to tell them what they can do. Always and forever it will be just a few who advance this world in any way, shape or form. What will save this world from annihilation isn’t the government, but a force and a becoming far more subtle and powerful- the potential of the individual and that comes by having the freedom to make the most of yourself and by helping yourself you help others.

gyroduck 8 years ago

“there are people who make a rule of creating chaos so that once the chaos is underway they can then be elected as the people who take care of the chaos” Jack Kerouac

Even a drunken poet who died in his mother’s lap could see this! The republicans elected Bush to decrease the size of the government and instead he did the opposite, paving the way for Obama to increase it’s size even more and now the mindless, reaction minded masses who really think they are getting revenge on the republicans are gun ho about it because the have become dependent on the government and they will pay a heavy price for their lack of self-reliance, but of course if you are a psychologist you would use the term “field dependence” and it would seem that many of those are not working much with the knowledge they’ve acquired! The more and more it seems the only way people ever really learn anything is by suffering.

patchley 8 years ago

If lack of graded taxation worked as an economic model to spur growth in real things like technology, medicine, educational level, life span, or any of a number of progress and quality of life issues, I would be all for eliminating taxes. But I am for the data of what works, not the hope for what should work.

It IS unfair on the face of it that the rich (and I mean RICH, not well off) pay more taxes. But the fact remains that the data are clear: that unfairness is necessary if we are to avoid concentration of capital in fewer hands. The rich become rich by NOT spending money. And spending is what economies require to grow, what small entrepreneurs need to fund discoveries, what parents need to send kids to school, and what nations need to do great works like go to the moon or build a national highway system.

No one likes taxes, myself included. I pay taxes to fund schools that my family will not take advantage of because it makes my community better. We all pay for things that have no clear, immediate benefit to us, because we live in a society where the strength and quality of that fabric influence us in a myriad of ways.

Flap Doodle 8 years ago

Parrot, you've got a place on the wall for your upcoming Order of Lenin?

Paul R Getto 8 years ago

"Has anyone stopped to think that most rich people got that way through hard work, dedication to a profession, & education......" Interesting point. I suppose the key word would be 'most.' For example..........."Wealth is also highly mobile. A study of the "Forbes 400" in 1986 identified 265 separate fortunes among this group. Of these, 108 were inherited to some degree, while 157 represented new wealth. The latest data show 149 of the 400 having inherited some or all of their wealth, with 251 being self-made. The super-rich have experienced a comeback in recent years. By 2000, the number of billionaires had shot up to 298, before falling to 266 in 2001 and 228 in 2002. In 2003, the number shot back up to 262 and in 2004 to 313.

Because wealth is highly mobile in the United States, most fortunes are earned, rather than inherited, and rarely survive past the second generation. For instance, according to data from the Internal Revenue Service:" http://www.ncpa.org/pub/st289?pg=5

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