Have the Republicans even screwed the rich?
by arenwin, Thu Nov 24, 2005 at 09:09:28 PM EST
Here are three exerpts:
Compelling evidence suggests that for the wealthy in particular, when everyone's house grows larger, the primary effect is merely to redefine what qualifies as an acceptable dwelling.
On the cost side of the ledger, the federal budget deficits created by the recent tax cuts have had serious consequences, even for the wealthy. These deficits will exceed $300 billion for each of the next six years, according to projections by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
Some of the specific costs to the wealthy that the author mentions:
- reduced financing for scientific research, threatening the basis for long-term economic prosperity
- threats to public health due to underfunded regulatory agencies
- poor maintenance on public roads
- national security compromised by underfunded homeland security initiatives
- financial burden of interest payments to non-US lenders, falling disproportionately on rich
There are other examples that the author didn't cite, but could have. Environmental degradation. The potential for civil unrest. Incompetent disaster preparedness and recovery. A less healthy workforce. The list goes on; feel free to add more in the comments.
What makes this all the more ironic is that there is now plenty of evidence (as Frank suggests) that people's sense of economic well-being is comparative, not absolute. In other words, when the people around you have more, you feel like you need more too. And when you get more, that just becomes the new bare minimum that you "need." In fact, even for the affluent, "falling behind" has effects on health. For example, risk for high blood pressure has been linked to people's perceptions of what they have in comparison to what they should have, given what they see as the standard within their community.
I.e., adding wealth at the top sets off another cycle of striving, but doesn't necessarily improve anybody's well-being - not even the wealthy.
Economics is often derided as a dismal science, the science of the zero-sum game. It's nice to see an economist pointing out in such an explicit way why, and how, the wealthy can vote against their own interests too, when they support unreasoning, out-of-control tax-cutting policies that appear at first blush to benefit them.
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