Joe Sestak's March 26 op-ed "Stop Dividing Americans," while opening with comments clearly intended to show that he is aware of increasing economic and social inequality, then failed miserably as he suggested that "the fortunate 1 percent should not be demonized." Oh really? Please, tell me why not.
As Mr. Sestak points out, from 1979 to 2007, the "top 1 percent of households received a 300 percent increase in government benefits" while "the poorest 20 percent decreased by a quarter." He also admits that "the top 0.1 percent had their average federal income tax decreased by 40 percent over the post half century while tax rates for the bottom 99.9 percent remained constant." He didn't say, but should have, that currently the top 1 percent of the nation controls about 40 percent of the nation's wealth, while the bottom 80 percent holds only 7 percent of that wealth.
The top 1 percent now own about half of all stocks, bonds and mutual funds, while the bottom 50 percent owns only 0.5 percent (not five, but 0.5) or half of 1 percent. To add insult to injury, the average CEO pay is now 380 times their average worker's pay (not the lowest-paid, but the average worker).
Mr. Sestak then attempts to paint the rich as caring when he claims that the top 1 percent gives more to charity than the remaining 99 percent. Well, of course, they do; they have more to give! In fact, studies have been pretty consistent over the last few years, showing that the rich give about 4.5 percent of their income compared to 2.5 percent of the working class. Figure it out -- giving 4.5 percent of $100 million as opposed to 2.5 percent of $50,000 still gives the rich a heck of a lot more to play with, doesn't it?
Joe Sestak is right, we shouldn't "demonize" the rich; we should jail them.