America's 112 million families had combined wealth of $50.3 trillion in 2004. When those families are ranked by the size of their wealth, however, the top 1% alone held $16.8 trillion in wealth, more than a third of the United States' total wealth and more than the $15.3 trillion held by 90% of U.S. families. The top 1% had average wealth of $15 million per family in contrast to the $22,800 average wealth of the least wealthy 50% of families or the $313,500 in wealth for families ranked between 50% and 90%.
The full report, which looks at the possible effects of new tax cuts on the distribution of wealth, is available here.
In my darker moments, most of which seem to occur while I'm reading the political news, I think that we should make contempt for democracy a criminal offense. Yes, yes, I know, we don't want to go down that road, but sometimes it's hard to resist the thought.
CONCORD, N.H. A former Republican National Committee official was sentenced Wednesday to 10 months in prison for his role in the jamming of New Hampshire Democrats' telephones on election day 2002.
James Tobin, the third person sent to prison in the case, was found guilty in December of harassment by telephone. Prosecutors had sought a two-year sentence.
Prosecutors said Tobin helped arrange more than 800 hang-up calls that jammed get-out-the-vote phone lines set up by the state Democratic Party and the Manchester firefighters union for about an hour. Republican John Sununu defeated then-Gov. Jeanne Shaheen for a Senate seat that day in what had been considered a cliffhanger.
Tobin, 45, of Bangor, Maine, apologized for his role.
This story has been around a while, but it's the first time that I've heard that some of those involved have been sent to prison. That was my fault, of course. I'm just happy that the criminal justice system has been able to snag these people.
What won't the GOP do to win elections? Tobin, after all, was no renegade underling. Amazing, just amazing!
As if we really needed further confirmation of the point, this article by Kevin G. Hall of Knight Ridder looks at recent studies indicating that any revenue gains resulting from tax cuts aren't enough to offset the revenue losses caused by the cuts.
Jonathan Rauch recently wrote a short piece for the The Atlantic on a recent study purporting to demonstrate a correlation between tax cuts and increased government spending, on the one hand, and tax increases and decreased government spending, on the other hand. (If I remember correctly, it's a subscription-only article, which is why I didn't blog it when it first appeared.)
The basic idea is the following. If voters are forced to pay for government services through higher taxes, then government tends not to grow. But if they can receive government services financed by deficit spending, then government tends to enlarge. In short, the "starve the beast" strategy gets things exactly backwards.
Anyway, I see that Jonathan Chait, ever the vigilant warrior against supply-side economics, has written a column in the wake of Rauch's piece, which caught the eye of many conservative writers. Chait looks at conservative reluctance to abandon one of the pillars of modern conservatism.
I recently blogged a bit about the possibility that the U.S. will soon achieve nuclear primacy, that is, such a superiority in nuclear arms that the U.S. could launch a first strike without fear of retaliation.
Today I see that Walter Pincus of The Washington Post has written an article about the slow dismantling of older U.S. nuclear warheads. Congress, it seems, wants to speed up the process to forestall the impression that the U.S. is beginning a new arms race as it modernizes its nuclear forces.