Dear Commons Community,
Paul Krugman’s column in today’s New York Times posits that political balance rests on a foundation of ignorance, in which the public has no idea on how the superrich live and manipulate the system to their advantage. He points out that while there is overwhelming support for higher minimum wages, and a majority favors higher taxes at the top, confronting extreme inequality hasn’t been an election-winning issue. He further comments:
“Does the invisibility of the very rich matter? Politically, it matters a lot. Pundits sometimes wonder why American voters don’t care more about inequality; part of the answer is that they don’t realize how extreme it is. And defenders of the superrich take advantage of that ignorance. When the Heritage Foundation tells us that the top 10 percent of filers are cruelly burdened, because they pay 68 percent of income taxes, it’s hoping that you won’t notice that word “income” — other taxes, such as the payroll tax, are far less progressive. But it’s also hoping you don’t know that the top 10 percent receive almost half of all income and own 75 percent of the nation’s wealth, which makes their burden seem a lot less disproportionate.”
The Heritage Foundation if just the tip of the spin iceberg that the superrich use to influence public and voter opinion. There are hundreds of other foundations, institutes, lobbying groups, and PACs (i.e., American Enterprise Institute, NRA, Koch Brothers) focusing attention away from issues of inequality. The Tea Party has lots of grassroots support but is funded largely by big money interests. In sum, the superrich have figured out how to control information to large segments of American society and in the process influence many of the day’s issues and debates.