The takeover of America by the super-wealthy

This brilliant explanation by former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, as to what’s really been going on in America, economically speaking, has been going around the internet for the past few days. I suspect that most of you have already seen it, but I thought that I should put it up here on the front page, just in case some of you hadn’t.

While we’re on the subject, you might also be interested in checking out these graphs, presented by our friends at, which clearly show, as Reich suggests, that the rich in America are contributing at historic lows…. Here’s one such example.

And, as all of this is going on, and as our once great nation is being defunded to the point of collapse, we somehow allow the national debate on patriotism to center on whether or not someone wears a flag pin on his lapel, or has a magnetic ribbon on the bumper of her car. I think it’s time to have a real conversation in this country as to what it means to be a patriot. In my opinion, what we’re seeing right now on the part of the super-wealthy in America is nothing short of treason.

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  1. Glen S.
    Posted June 18, 2011 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    “During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” — George Orwell

  2. Posted June 18, 2011 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    What I wonder is how did the “super wealthy” get to be that way. Do they have unique skill sets? Were they genetically lucky? Was it hard work and dedication? It would be interesting to see a study of who the super wealthy are and how they got there. That would certainly tell us something for public policy purposes.

  3. Edward
    Posted June 18, 2011 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    I for one look forward to tasting the rich, buttery flesh of the rich. I haven’t given it a great deal of thought, but I think that I’d probably boil them alive in their limos, like lobsters.

  4. F Orbz
    Posted June 18, 2011 at 10:05 pm | Permalink


    No need to wonder. The list this references is right here.

    …Walton, Koch, Koch, Walton, Walton, Walton…

  5. F Orbz
    Posted June 18, 2011 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

    I’ll add that readers of the list should take advantage of Forbes sorting and and hit “source” to see the industries/companies this wealth is centralized in. It’s easy to read it and have celebrity names like Gates, Jobs and Ilitch jump out — people whose wealth grew from products and ideas. Sorting by source does two things:

    First, it gives a more realistic portrait of who really has the money. Gates may seem like the big winner but that’s only because he has a small family. He has $54 billion. The Walton/Walmart family has $91 billion (and that’s just the prodigy who made the top 400 list).

    Second, it gives a more realistic portrait of who really has the money. Which sector has the most individuals on the top 400? Hedge funds with a combined $102 billion. A close second? Investors. I don’t want to engage a full fledged debate on the value of the stock market, but I think it’s safe to say that the people who control the most wealth in America don’t really make anything accept money, which is made on other peoples’ losses.

    John and all readers. It’s really worth a few minutes of scrolling through the list (again, try sorting by “source”) and reflecting on how the list reflects our current situation.

  6. Posted June 19, 2011 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    So I’m looking at that list and it appears to me that — inherited Walton money aside — most of them have skills I don’t possess — inventive, management, stock picking. So much for my joining the super rich.

    Guess I’ll have to stick to promoting income redistribution.

  7. EOS
    Posted June 19, 2011 at 7:52 am | Permalink


    There’s always the option of learning to be content while living within your means. Being super rich often multiplies your problems.

  8. Posted June 19, 2011 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    How exactly is asking the wealthy to contribute toward public education and the upkeep of American infrastructure “income redistribution”?

    Also, for what it’s worth, I’d encourage you to read up on what Bill Gates Sr. and Warren Buffet have to say on the matter.

  9. Posted June 19, 2011 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    That was meant to be ironic. Everytime we ask people to support public goods that benefit everyone, someone screams income redistribution.

  10. Dirtgrain
    Posted June 19, 2011 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    They’re hogging all of the resources–our resources. How much taxation is enough? Enough to enable all willing-to-work Americans to have good health insurance and other insurance; safe neighborhoods; good housing; forty-hour work weeks; time to spend with their families; a stay-at-home parent for their children’s early years; healthy, nutritious food; transportation; vacation time; and probably a few more things I’m forgetting–and enough to take adequately take care of those who can’t take care of themselves.

    I’m happy that there are rich people; I’m not happy that they manipulate the political system to enable them to hoard America’s resources and get ever richer off of them. Raise the income and gains taxes on the rich. If they don’t like it, they can choose not to participate in our economic system and go elsewhere.

  11. LaidOffTeacherPatti
    Posted June 19, 2011 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    And it starts…I linked this on my FB page and one of my friends immediately popped up to say he was unawares of any kind of “war”…(I may have mentioned a class war wherein I chop off heads and roast people on my front lawn. Maybe)….the middle class has GOT to stop fighting amongst ourselves and stop defending these rich motherfuckers. (And yeah, whenever I say rich motherfuckers, someone will always pop up to say that they are not all bad people…I’m sure some of them are very nice but as a whole, I don’t love ’em)

  12. Glen S.
    Posted June 19, 2011 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Hopefully, this issue is beginning to gain some traction, since even the politically-conservative Washington Post Business Section has the following headline today:

    “Special Report: Breakaway Wealth — With executive pay, rich pull away from the rest of America”

  13. Tom
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 12:27 am | Permalink

    I think there is one glaring omission from Reich’s rundown. The ‘super rich’ as a class of people with shared economic rules, risks, and interests have become wealthy or remained so due to the training and expertise of professional coordinators and skilled strategists. After all, lawyers and businesspeople share much the same culture. And with the rise of neoliberalism in the early 70s, and a technological revolution beginning to take place, it only made sense to hire out math nerds to author complex derivatives for a burgeoning global financial market. It takes people like Robert Reich – economists – to play the cheerleaders and apologists for crisis after crisis caused by the regular boom and bust of capitalism.

    So Republicans are taking the ‘tough love’ approach to the nasty working stiffs who always get reamed when ‘crisis’ hits the ‘super rich.’ They’re on the prowl for new markets, and K-12 is primed. All that’s needed is further coaxing from businesspeople, lawyers, engineers, and lots more nerds with clever plans. The rest of us likewise see a passive at best ‘progressive’ or ‘liberal’ political leadership fall over backwards to stem the tide and continue to negotiate with the divine wisdom of professional politics. In other words, we’re going to have to see radically transformative and democratic processes taking place in the foreseeable future. People should be participating in their own economic and political lives in cooperation toward a common goal. How ridiculous that we have to say that, because the prevailing ideas are way off.

  14. TaterSalad
    Posted June 22, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    The China/U. of M. connection:

  15. TaterSalad
    Posted June 25, 2011 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    AFL-CIO, Trumka and communist Van Jones are now butt buddies!

  16. Donald Gethung
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    Perry Brags About Texas’ Tax System That Charges The Poor Four Times As Much As The Rich

  17. harrisburg pa
    Posted October 4, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    What’s not to your liking? Is the beer not cold enough? Is the porn not graphic enough? Don’t the Adam Sandler movies come out on cable quickly enough? Where have we failed you?

  18. lancaster
    Posted October 22, 2011 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    I know it’s wrong but as I watched Gadaffi being marched around by his captors yesterday, begging for his life, I wondered what fate might await the Koch brothers, who have waged a war against the American people these last several decades, and those like them. One would hope the American people are more kind.

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  1. By The gap that won’t quit « Joel D. Skene on June 20, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    […] came across this video via fellow Ypsilantian Mark Maynard made by former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich. It’s really nice to see someone able to […]

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