Monday, June 18, 2012

We're As Bad As Greece

While the crisis persists in Greece, rich Greeks aren't worried. It's not their problem. The rich float above the crises that impoverish and destroy working people. They benefit from the conditions that ruin the broader economy.

This article in the Guardian explains the Greek problem, and it's the same as the problem here in the U.S.: rich parasites. In both countries the rich are overpaid and immune to taxation. Meanwhile they benefit the most from the government spending they refuse to fund. Our tax financed military protects their trade. Our roads move their products. Our government funded research invents their patents. Our government cleans up their messes. Our safety net takes care of the workers they throw away. These three paragraphs from the Guardian are especially telling:

"Greek shipowners, who have gained from their profits being tax-free and who control at least 15% of the world's merchant freight, have also remained low-key. With their wealth offshore and highly secretive, the estimated 900 families who run the sector have the largest fleet in the world. As Athens' biggest foreign currency earner after tourism, the industry remitted more than $175bn (£112bn) to the country in untaxed earnings over the past decade. Greece's debt currently stands at €280bn.

"As ordinary Greeks have been thrown into ever greater poverty by wage and pension cuts and a seemingly endless array of new and higher taxes, their wealthy compatriots have been busy either whisking their money out of Greece or snapping up prime real estate abroad.

"An estimated €8bn flowed out of the Greek banking system in May as speculation over the country's possible exit from the eurozone mounted. Another €4bn was reported to have been withdrawn in the last two weeks – on top of an estimated €20bn since the start of the crisis in late 2009. Stories of rich Greeks sending their wives and best friends on "shopping missions" to remove secret hoards kept in banks in Switzerland and Cyprus are legion."

These three paragraphs might as well be about the U.S. and its lucky one percenters, the carefree rich––like the Romneys, who happily deduct twice the national median annual income every year for their horse expenses. It must be nice to have an expensive tax-deductible hobby like dressage. Why are our tax dollars subsidizing Mrs. Romney's playtime?

The Romney candidacy is all about making the rich less obligated to pay their way. It's about giving themselves and their friends a free ride while working Americans work harder and longer for less. President Romney would shift even more of the tax burden off people who live off wealth and onto people who work to survive. That is the Greek model, and it doesn't work. Rich Greeks are abandoning Greece, taking their wealth with them, just as Romney has most of his wealth in Switzerland and the Caymans.

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