Moneyed elites get richer the old-fashioned way: Stealing

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Courtesy of Jim Hightower

Get ready to swallow your “Statistic of the Day!” But first, to help you absorb the big one, here’s a preliminary statistic for you: 158,000. That’s the number of kindergarten teachers in America, and their combined income in 2013 was $8 billion. Now, here’s your Big Stat of the Day (even though it seems smaller): Four. That’s the number of America’s highest-paid hedge fund operators whose combined income in 2013 was $10 billion. Yes, just four Wall Street greedmeisters hauled off $2 billion more in pay than was received by all of our kindergarten teachers.

Now, which group do you think pays the lowest rate of income tax? Right… the uber-rich Wall Streeters! Incredibly, Congress (in its inscrutable wisdom) gives preferential tax treatment to the narcissistic money manipulators who do practically nothing for the common good. Even the flamboyant celebrity narcissist, Donnie Trump, sees through the gross inequality of this tax scam: “The hedge fund guys didn’t build this country,” The Donald recently barked. “These are guys that shift paper around and they get lucky. The hedge fund guys are getting away with murder.”

Indeed, dodging through a loophole called “carried interest,” they pay about half the tax rate that kindergarten teachers are
assessed. In effect, Wall Street’s puppets in Congress let this tiny group of moneyed elites steal about $18 billion a year that they owe to the public treasury to finance the structure and workings of America itself.

The inequality that is presently rip- ping our society apart is not the result of some incomprehensible force of nature, but the direct result of collusion between financial and political elites to rig the system for the enrichment of the few — i.e., themselves — and the impoverishment of the many. There’s a word for those elites: Thieves.

This opinion column does not necessarily reflect the views of Boulder Weekly.

For more information on Jim Hightower’s work — and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown — visit www.jimhightower.com.