|Photo Credit: Dan Kinwood, Getty Images (copyright Getty Images)|
From The Guardian UK (The Automatic Earth where I first found this, has its own blurb with other article snippets you wouldd want to look at):
"Despite their soaring share of the nation’s wealth, the rich go to enormous lengths to avoid paying taxes."
"Romney defended his sons by declaring that they served their country by 'helping me get elected'." (tip o' th' hat to Raul Ilargi Meijer)
How America's rich betrayed their fellow citizens
by Anthony J. Gaughan, The Guardian, Monday 25 April 2016
In the past, wealth came with responsibility. Today’s rich avoid taxes, military service, and charitable giving. No wonder we’re seeing a populist backlash.And it all started with Thatcher and Reagan, and the "Greed is good" mentality they spawned. And of course, nobody can be better at being greedy than narcissistic, self-centred rich people.
The author F Scott Fitzgerald once wrote that the “rich are different than you and me”.
Fitzgerald’s observation rings especially true today. The growing divide between the wealthy and everyone else is one of the pre-eminent issues of the 2016 presidential election. A tidal wave of public anger over income inequality and the decline of the middle class has made the rich a popular target on the campaign trail. The best example is the remarkable success of Bernie Sanders, who has tapped into the populist spirit of the electorate by calling for a “political revolution” against the “billionaire class”.
Republicans routinely condemn such rhetoric as the reckless promotion of “class warfare” by irresponsible populists, but the reality is class conflict is a two-way street.
Sanders and other populists did not create the class tensions in American society. Instead, wealthy Americans themselves played a central role in creating the conditions that gave rise to the angry and populist mood of the 2016 election.
Although America has the largest economy in the world, real wages have not gone up since 1972 because most workers have experienced stagnating incomes for decades. Across the country middle-income Americans face a precarious economic future. Median income has fallen in over 80% of America’s counties since 2000, a trend that is accelerating. Even mortality rates reflect growing income inequality. Poor and rural Americans now die at rates well above that of wealthy and urban Americans.
Meanwhile the rich just keep getting richer.... Since the 1980s, rich Americans have maximized their share of the nation’s prosperity at the expense of the rest of the country. Adding insult to injury, a growing body of evidence suggests that many rich people today simply do not care about their fellow Americans. The old concept of noblesse oblige has declined among the wealthy to a disturbing degree.
To understand how the rich have changed, one needs to understand how the upper classes used to behave.
No single location encapsulates the worldview of “old money” families better than Harvard’s Memorial church, which stands in the center of Harvard Yard. The church’s walls list the Harvard students, alumni and faculty members who have perished in America’s wars since 1917.
The numbers are breathtaking. During the world wars, thousands of Harvard students and alumni served in the US military.
Harvard’s student body was drawn primarily from America’s richest and most well-connected families. Those families could have pulled strings to ensure their sons stayed out of combat. But they did not, as powerfully demonstrated by the list of names at Memorial church and similar memorials across the Ivy League. During the world wars, the upper classes did their part to defend the nation.