Five false myths that make liberals feel good
1. The U.S. has a progressive tax code
2. The U.S. is a land of opportunity
Actually, the mobility of the U.S. is worse than Canada’s or anywhere in Western Europe. From the NY Times article:
Despite frequent references to the United States as a classless society, about 62 percent of Americans (male and female) raised in the top fifth of incomes stay in the top two-fifths, according to research by the Economic Mobility Project of the Pew Charitable Trusts. Similarly, 65 percent born in the bottom fifth stay in the bottom two-fifths.
3. The bailout worked
Actually, the bailout is still happening, as we see from monthly discoveries such as this recent back-door bailout, and it hasn’t worked for the majority of the people it was intended for, namely people stuck with unreasonable mortgages (people forget this sometimes, but the first half of TARP was for the banks, the second half was for mortgage holders). From a NY Times Op-ed by Elizabeth Lynch (emphasis mine):
So a lender can forgive a second mortgage — which in the event of foreclosure would be worthless anyway — and under the settlement claim credits for “modifying” the mortgage, while at the same time it or another bank forecloses on the first loan. The upshot, of course, is that the people the settlement was designed to protect keep losing their homes.
4. Our private data is protected by our government
Although on the one hand the CIA recently admitted to full monitoring of Facebook using fake personas (h/t Chris Wiggins), the U.S. government does not in fact take great pains to protect the data they collect about its citizens. Moreover, government workers who complain about the porous data protection are punished instead of protected, as is explained in this Times piece. My favorite quote is this bit of common sense:
Susan Landau, a Guggenheim fellow in cyber security, privacy and public policy, says companies and agencies are unlikely to improve data security without the threat of penalty.
“What are the personal consequences for employees who allow data breaches to happen?” Ms. Landau asks. “Until people lose their jobs, nothing is going to change.”
5. We are recovering from the great recession
From 2009-2011, the top 1% captured 121% of all income gains (h/t Matt Stoller).
Who says you can’t perform at 121%? Turns out you can if other people are actually losing income while you’re getting increasingly rich.
Don’t get me wrong, corporate profits have done even better – a 171% gains since we’ve had Obama. But I’d go by things that matter to the 99%, so payrolls and jobs. Payrolls are flat and we still have 5 million fewer jobs, so I’d say it’s not much of a recovery.