Mike Lofgren of CounterPunch recently wrote that the super-rich have seceded from the United States. OK, we knew that, but read to the end of his article to see how deeply he appreciates the implications of their secession:
…Steven Schwarzman, the hedge fund billionaire CEO of the Blackstone Group who hired Rod Stewart for his $5-million birthday party, believes it is the rabble who are socially irresponsible. Speaking about low-income citizens who pay no income tax, he says: “You have to have skin in the game. I’m not saying how much people should do. But we should all be part of the system.” But millions of Americans who do not pay federal income taxes pay federal payroll taxes. These taxes are regressive, and the dirty little secret is that over the last several decades they have made up a greater and greater share of federal revenues…
…This lack of skin in the game may explain why Willard Mitt Romney is so coy about releasing his income tax returns. It would also make sense for someone with $264 million in net worth to joke that he is “unemployed,” as if he were some jobless sheet metal worker in Youngstown, when he is really saying in code that his income stream is not a salary subject to payroll deduction. The chances are good that his effective rate for both federal income and payroll taxes is lower than that of many a wage slave.
The real joke is on the rest of us. After the biggest financial meltdown in 80 years – a meltdown caused by the type of rogue financial manipulation that Romney embodies – and a consequent long, steep drop in the American standard of living, who is the putative front-runner for one of the only two parties allowed to be competitive in American politics? None other than Mitt Romney, the man who says corporations are people. Opposing him, or someone like him, will be the incumbent president, Barack Obama, who will raise up to a billion dollars to compete in the campaign. Much of that loot will come from the same corporations, hedge fund managers, merger and acquisition specialists, and leveraged buyout artists the president will denounce in pro forma fashion during the campaign.
The super-rich have seceded from America even as their grip on its control mechanisms has tightened.
Footnote: Rod Stewart was a soulful singer with the Jeff Beck Group and with the Faces. He also recorded some terrific solo stuff, but he hasn’t cut a good album in about 35 years. He became someone who would record anything and perform anywhere if you threw enough money at him. He and Steve Schwarzman were perfect together.