Monday, July 15, 2024

Opinion | Wealth is concentrated at the top, no matter how you measure it

Opinion | Wealth is concentrated at the top, no matter how you measure it


Former senator Phil Gramm (R-Tex.) insisted in his May 31 letter, “A wider view on poverty,” that poverty in the United States is much smaller than it appears because of the value of government transfers to the poor, including Medicare and Medicaid services. But he ignored the critical fact that well-off people benefit hugely from government largesse, notably the mortgage interest tax deduction, lower rates of tax on capital gains and an array of income tax deductions that only the rich can take advantage of.

If we are to count tax transfers to the poor as “income,” shouldn’t we also count the forgone taxes that rich people do not have to pay?

The fact remains that income and wealth in this country, however you measure it, are concentrated at the top today at a level we haven’t seen since the robber barons and Dickensian labor conditions of the Gilded Age. The result is misery, social unrest and political instability. If Mr. Gramm wants to uphold the status quo with creative accounting, he is doing the country a vast disservice.



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