Wealthiest 5% must come to the rescue

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By Hannah Hayes

Given the recession, the amount of money spent on the recent election was particularly obscene. Colorado was a magnet for single-issue outside groups with undisclosed donors. One House race fetched $3.5 million! The total projected cost of this election is more than $4 billion, $3 billion of which was spent at radio and TV stations. Republicans outspent Democrats 7 to 1.
The very rich are buying influence while the rest of us numb ourselves with screen time. Recently I looked in on Ralph Nader — on my computer screen, of course.
Raising the difference between plutocratic corporations and civic agendas, Nader reminds us that the people own major assets of this commonwealth. Federal land, public airwaves, pension funds, insurance company equity and savings deposits belong, at least in part, to the people — and it’s time to raise our expectation level and wrestle control away from corporations.
Nader always seems to resurface around election time, and I heard him on “Democracy Now” plugging his latest book, “Only The Super-Rich Can Save Us.” Wait, Ralph, aren’t they the very ones who sold us out in this recent election?
In his self-described vision, one Nader hopes might become the new reality, he imagines a “practical utopia.” You can read more at www.OnlyTheSuperRich.org.
Wealth once was synonymous with well-being. Now, too much power and money are in the hands of too few, who continue to say “no” to a living wage and universal health care.
“These are indicators of a declining democracy,” says Nader. “Our history has demonstrated that the well-being of society springs from the growth of daily, active citizenship.”
We might begin by looking at why Americans are so afraid to speak out for taxing the upper 2 percent? Even Reagan’s former budget director, David Stockman, favors a one-time surtax. The fat cats will have to kick in only an extra few thousand each.
“In 1985, the wealthiest 5 percent had a net worth of $8 trillion, which is a lot. Today, the top 5 percent have a net worth of $40 trillion,” Stockman says. “The top 5 percent have gained more wealth than the whole human race had created prior to 1980.”
Taxing the upper 2 percent is not change that will affect most of us, yet it’s change that just might jump-start our country’s troubled economy.

Hannah B. Hayes is a former Both Sides Now debate columnist, small-business owner and peace activist. She has been a part of the Evergreen community for more than 35 years.