Letter to the Editor

A piece of the cookie

Friday, April 8, 2011

To the editor:

Consider this joke going around the internet:

A CEO, a tea party member, and a union worker are all sitting at a table when a plate with a dozen cookies arrives. Before anyone else can make a move, the CEO reaches out to rake in eleven of the cookies. When the other two look at him in surprise, the CEO locks eyes with the Tea Party member. "You better watch him," the executive says with a nod toward the union worker. "He wants a piece of your cookie."

In 2009 the top 25 hedge fund managers averaged just over $1 billion of personal income apiece. Compare that to a person making $50,000 a year, that is, a full-time hard working person with some job skills. It takes 500,000 people making $50,000 per year to make as much money as those 25 billionaires made in 2009. That's right, half a million people. There is nothing those billionaires are doing to earn even a fraction of the money they make. Even if you taxed 99 percent of their income they would still have made 250 million dollars or as much as 5,000 people making 50,000 dollars per year.

In the 1970s a CEO made 25 times as much as the average worker. Today they make over 300 times as much. Since the 70s, CEO pay has grown more than 12 times as fast as the pay of the average worker.

The moral of this story is the very wealthy earn only a small fraction of the income they make. That excess is little more than theft from a middle class struggling to make ends meet. As Warren Buffet, the second richest man in America, has noted, there is a class war going on in this country and my side is winning without the other side even putting up a fight. Among the wealthy, Warren Buffet is an exception in understanding the injustice.

This brings us back to the Tea Party in the joke. The wealthy have gotten away with their thieving ways by conning the middle class. First, it was the trickle down economics con that really caused money to trickle up. Then it was about unions, planned parenthood, gay marriage, the location of mosques, NPR, or Sharia law. Anything to distract the middle class while the wealthy pick their pockets. Anything to get the middle class to fight amongst themselves. Now the wealthy have used the Tea Party to misdirect middle class anger at, you guessed it, the middle class. Half a million teachers don't make as much as 25 hedge fund operators and we elect Tea Party candidates massively funded by the wealthy to go after teachers?! The Tea Party should be supporting the protestors in Wisconsin not Republican thugs. But they don't get it. Until the Tea Party figures out that they need to be fighting for some of those cookies taken by the CEO, the republic is dead.

Bruce Sanders