I saw a cartoon in the weekly publication The Week and it was just the word Greed. Those who know me, know I believe greed is the source of most of America’s problems. These are my thoughts about it, not in rank order:
- Pharmaceutical Companies are a big part of the problem and through the media they have too much power.
- The Purdue family made billions selling drugs they knew were addictive and lied to keep doctor’s prescribing it to their patients. They faced few consequences; lives and communities were destroyed, and they continue to make money. This families desire to make money for themselves was more of a priority to them than the lives of others.
- Merck paid billion to solve the Vioxx problem. Merck put the Vioxx personal injury cases behind them for just under $5 billion. Add in legal expenses of roughly $2 billion, and the total tab of $7 billion. The plaintiffs’ lawyers also received 32% of their clients’ settlement award and more than $1.55 billion in fees. Research published in the medical journal Lancet estimates that 88,000 Americans had heart attacks from taking Vioxx, and 38,000 of them died. During the five years it was on the market, Vioxx earned Merck around $10 billion in sales annually in the US alone.
Even the wealthy people that feel they should contribute more do not produce meaningful solutions to get it done, because they really don’t want to pay more.
- The wealthy say they think inequality is a problem, but then they continue to pressure lawmakers to set up laws that heavily decrease their taxes. Tax dollars could address inequality, but they do not want to contribute financially.
- Thanks to Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United, big money dominates U.S. political campaigns to a degree not seen in decades. Super PACs allow billionaires to pour unlimited amounts into campaigns.
- Minimum wage must be raised in every state. People who work full-time should be able to afford housing, food etc. We always tell people to get jobs to get out of poverty, yet most state’s minimum wage keeps full-time employees living under the poverty line. Yet corporations are telling the public, they can’t “afford” these increases.
Corporations need to pay their fair share of the tax burden.
- 2000’s housing crisis was fueled by banks who gave mortgages to people they knew could not afford them so the bank can make money and foreclosure on the house. Over six million American households lost their homes to foreclosure, yet banks received a bail out. 2008 Cato Institute report estimated that about $92 billion went to subsidize American businesses in 2006, yet most Americans are happy to blame people who need welfare as being the problem.
- Unfortunately, things have gone on too long and the people who benefit from things staying the same are not going to change things. Americans have accepted this culture of greed for too long. Japanese CEO pay never reached the ridiculous levels of American CEO’s. According to the consultancy Towers Perrin, CEOs of big
- Japanese companies earned an average $809,000 in 2003 — chump change compared with the $11.4 million raked in by their average U.S. counterpart. During the recession of 2008-2009, Merrill Lynch’s John Thain was splurging on a $1.2 million office makeover and Lehman Bros.’ Richard Fuld was drawing a $22 million bonus, the president of Japan Airlines was riding the bus to work, eating in the company cafeteria, and cutting his salary to $98,000.
- Foundations and Charitable Giving is a vehicle for tax avoidance
- College’s sit on huge endowments (billions of dollars), yet students come out with lots of debt.
- IRS rules must be changed to ensure that Foundations and Donor Advised Funds (DAF’s) must do more to help people and are not just another tool for rich people to avoid taxes.
- Regressive Taxes further the wealth gap
- You cannot stop it, but the lottery is a main source of state income and disproportionately hurts the lower class as they are the ones who typically play.
- Gas and inflation right now are out of control. Again, the lower classes are the ones that suffer the most.
- Annual Gift Tax: As of 2020, an individual can gift $15,000 to as many people as they want. For married couples, the amount is $30,000. I have 6 children, 15 grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren, and my wife and I can gift $30,000 annually to each of them. The recipients do not pay taxes on this money. This should be capped at $75 k per person. “Or 100k per couple”
- Private Foundations and Donor-Advised Funds: These funds should be required to spend 7% of their assets in 2023, increasing to 10% annually. Donor-Advised Funds should not be a deduction for foundations and should have to abide by the same rule as foundations in annual grants. Donations to endowments should only count as 50% of the amount. Any monies not used below the required percentage annually, should be given to the government.
- Have the Wealthy Pay into Social Security: My plan would be something like this…Start taxing individuals and corporations on salaries over $350k and stop at $2,000,000. In 2020, Social Security’s total income exceeded total cost by $11 billion, but when interest received on trust fund asset reserves is excluded from program income, there was a deficit of $65 billion. The Trustees project that total cost will exceed total income (including interest) beginning in 2021 and in all years thereafter. As the population ages, that gap will only widen. Medicare and social security accounted for 41% of federal spending in 2016, up from 36% in 2011. The costs of both programs are set to rise due to the aging U.S. population making it difficult for the government to outrun the solvency programs, even by sharply boosting economic growth. Nearly 56 million Americans collected retirement benefits through the program as of Jan. 2020 and 13,379 million received payments from a separate disability insurance program.
- Repeal Citizen’s United: Constitutional rights belong to people, not corporations.