Rev. Thomas Reese: Equity Requires New Taxes and the Enforcement of Current Laws

A U.S. individual income tax return 1040 form on Jan. 17, 2019.(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Savannah L. Waters)

The 20-plus candidates running for the Democratic presidential nomination are rightly focusing on the inequitable distribution of income and wealth in the United States. Not only are CEOs receiving salaries that dwarf their underlings’, the rich (whether through inheritance or earnings) now control a disproportionate share of wealth.

According to a recent Federal Reserve study, cited by Robert Samuelson in The Washington Post, there are about $114 trillion in assets in the U.S., including $26 trillion of housing and real estate, $26 trillion of pensions (such as 401(k) accounts), $22 trillion of corporate stocks and mutual funds, and $6 trillion of durable goods (vehicles, appliances, furniture). After subtracting liabilities (mostly mortgages and consumer credit), that leaves about $100 trillion in wealth.

Who owns this wealth?

The wealthiest 10 percent own 70% of it, while the bottom 50% own practically nothing.

And the rich are getting richer. The wealthiest share is up from 60% in 1989. The study also found that those below the wealthiest 10% who do have some wealth have seen their share of the pie drop in the past 30 years.

The rich are getting richer. In 2018, the top 10% of U.S. households controlled 70% of total household wealth, up from 60%  in 1989. Divisions of Research & Statistics and Monetary Affairs, Federal Reserve Board, March 2019

The prophet Amos promised destruction on those rich who ignored the poor in their midst.

I will turn your feasts into mourning and all your songs into dirges.
I will cover the loins of all with sackcloth and make every head bald.
I will make it like the time of mourning for an only child, and its outcome like a day of bitter weeping.

A variety of programs are being proposed to take on this inequity: raising the minimum wage, strengthening unions, raising taxes on the wealthiest.

A wealth tax of 1% on the wealthiest 10% of the population would raise $1 trillion annually. Eliminating income tax loopholes for the highest income earners would raise billions more.

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Source: Religion News Service