There is one, single, pivotal, economic issue that will be decided in 11 days. It isn't healthcare, unemployment or taxes yet, in a sense, it is all of those and more.
McCain has brought the issue to the surface and he and Palin have been hammering away at it for several days. In the process, McCain has charged that Obama's plan to cut taxes for 95% of the population and to cut back on corporate welfare represents a redistribution of the wealth and, as a result, Obama is promoting socialism and he is therefore a "socialist."
The accusation has evidently made headway among some of those on the right side of the political spectrum. I was surprised last weekend to hear a relative, who I know to be quite brilliant, say that she wouldn't vote for Obama because he's a socialist.
The only trouble with McCain's and Palin's repetitive rhetoric is that, in this respect, it is blatantly false. Socialism is defined in the American Heritage Dictionary as "A social system in which the means of producing and distributing goods are owned collectively and political power is exercised by the whole community."
Nothing Obama has proposed comes anywhere near the definition of socialism.
And as for the redistribution-of-wealth charge, just what does McCain think has been going on for the last thirty years.
A few months ago, Time Magazine reported that the bottom 99% of our wage earners experienced a growth in real average income since 1980 of just 8%, while that of the top 1% jumped 177%.
Furthermore, between tax cuts that favored the rich, friendly legislation and the absence of regulations, the wealth gap between the upper and middle classes has particularly widened during the first decade of the 21st century.
And, it has become clearer than ever that the "trickle-down theory," concocted by the right wing in the 1980's, and still alluded to by McCain, is about as valid as cold fusion.
A quick look at the Bush tax cuts reveals how completely unfair they were.
The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy calculated the benefits in four different ways last year, comparing the impact on the top 1% of earners with the impact on the bottom 40%, through the year 2010. This is what they reported.
The cuts will produce an aggregate benefit of $130 billion for the bottom 40%, versus an aggregate benefit of $719 billion for the top 1%.
The bottom 40% will receive 6.1% of the total cuts. The top 1% will receive 33.3% of the total cuts.
The bottom 40% will receive an average aggregate benefit of $2,300. The average benefit for the top 1% will be $522,000.
And finally, the tax cuts as a percentage of income, will be 1.2% for the bottom 40% versus 3.9% for the top 1%.
The growth of the wealth gap over the past thirty years, and particularly during the George W. Bush years, has not only penalized the middle class but it has also contributed to the current economic crisis. In the early 1930's, the Brooking Institution, as a result of Hoover's previous tax cuts that favored the rich, and other legislative measures, labeled the resulting wealth gap as one of the reasons for the Great Depression. It is only a matter of time before the same charge is leveled with respect to the current meltdown.
It is apparent, therefore, that Obama's economic plan is no more than an attempt to correct the imbalance that the past decades have brought and pull it back out of foul territory.
Time Magazine was so profoundly affected by the greed on the part of many in the upper class, it ended a recent analytical article with the following: The situation "looks just awful. To be specific, they look like pigs. Worse, they look like unpatriotic ingrates who won't share with their country even a fraction of the blessings that it has bestowed so spectacularly on them."
Make no mistake about it, the appropriate distribution of this nation's wealth is the major economic issue at stake on November 4th. And the people will be up against a powerful and greedy minority that will stop at nothing to succeed.
Dave McGill, News Correspondent
Dave's column, "The Contrarian," generally published every Friday, to Gather Essentials: News will sometimes present a contrary view to various aspects of the news, or an alternate take on the conventional wisdom of the day, and will often appear on other days of the week
Dave has been a senior officer of an eastern insurance company, involved in economic projections and investment strategy, president of a Midwestern mortgage banking company, and a financial consultant in Southern California, serving clients in the field of commercial real estate development.
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