Oligarchy Is the Politics of Wealth Defense by the Richest

from Firedoglake

Oligarchic wealth today is not created by tangible personal property, although the richest among us have plenty of that. It is defined by ownership of paper rights, stock in companies, bonds issued by the government and corporations, oil wells, patents, deeds to real estate and so on. The only substantial protector of both forms of wealth is the State, meaning both local and national government.

The threat to oligarchic wealth isn’t thieves or banks trying to foreclose on mortgages unlawfully; those are the concerns of the 99%. The big threat to Oligarchs is taxation, especially progressive income taxation and the Estate Tax, which are the only ways we have to bring about redistribution of wealth. Rich people don’t want to pay taxes; so they get low capital gains rates. Hedge fundies don’t want to pay taxes; so they get carried interests. Traders don’t want to pay taxes on their bonuses; so they set up off-shore trusts. Billionaires hate the Estate Tax, which they won’t even pay. The goal of the Oligarchs, according to Winters, is to shove those taxes off onto other people. They want to shift the cost of government to other people, even though they are by far the biggest beneficiaries of government.

Here is how it’s done. An ant warren of lawyers, accountants, brokers and bankers exists for the sole purpose of hiding assets from taxation. A murder of crows in the PR/Media business shriek that taxation is theft, class war, and job-destroying, and blithers on about how those few job creators will just do a Galt, pack up their money and leave. The carrion eaters in academic economics scrawl screeds on chalkboards showing that taxing the rich is irresponsible and bad, priming another generation to go forth and protect the interests of the rich at the expense of their parents, families and friends (well if they have any friends). Professional pundits bellow and whine in polyphonic cacophony about the death tax, as if it what happens to Mr. Sam’s money matters to the creepy Walton heirs after they go down into the dust.

The richer the 1% get, the greedier they get, & the more they are able to rig the system in their favour – like a snake constricting the very life out of the 99%.


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