For the rich, the Trump presidency represents a once-in-a-lifetime bonanza, as the tuxedoed hordes and their glittering wives reminded us this New Year's Eve at Mar-A-Lago.
Something big is coming. Most people can feel it. It probably won't be what you expect though; an intercontinental nuclear warhead launched without warning from the North Korean peninsula, another white nationalist gun massacre targeting huddled innocents with a cache of high powered rifles, it probably won't be another pitiless ISIS attack or a presidential impeachment after a long prosecution.
It'll likely be worse. Worse because we won't see it coming, at all. First the facts. We live in a Second Gilded Age. Not since the long ago era of the Rockefeller's and Vanderbilt's has so much been owed by so few.
There are 1,542 billionaires across the world in 2018, according to the latest UBS/PWC Billionaires report. Those same billionaires increased their global wealth by almost a fifth last year to a record $6 trillion, that's more than twice the GDP of the United Kingdom.
During his campaign, Trump said over and over again that he would stick it to the wealthy by closing the egregious carried interest loophole. Guess what? His disgraceful tax bill did nothing to address it and even Fox Business commentators are fed up with his broken promises. pic.twitter.com/mz5iQY4dA3— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) January 3, 2018
You'd think they'd be content with that but the truth is they're actually afraid. The billionaire clients of UBS ultra-high net worth group are concerned that the growing inequality between rich and poor could lead to a “strike back.”
The signs are certainly looking ominous. The shocking wealth inequality at the turn of the last century eventually led to President Roosevelt breaking up monopolies and trusts and taxing the rich.
But we live in the age of President Trump and his response to the gross inequality of our own times was to sign a historic tax bill that economists say pointedly favors the rich.
Far from helping the struggling middle class, Trump's tax cuts actually redistribute wealth upward to the one percent and to the donor class. It's as if the FDNY arrived at your burning house with gasoline instead of water.
For the rich under Trump it's a once-in-a-lifetime bonanza, as the tuxedoed hordes and their glittering wives at Mar-A-Lago reminded us this New Year's Eve.
For the rest of us there will just be more anxious talk of persistent “low wage growth,” framed as though it were just some minor caveat in bigger stories about Wall Street and the booming stock market, when in fact it should be the real focus.
Because this is not a story about a “booming stock market,” it’s the story of the rich getting richer while no one else does.
We have been here before. Before the French Revolution the top 3% owned 35% of the land. In 2018 in the United States, the richest 1% own 39% of the wealth, the bottom 90% owns only 22.8% of the wealth. That means America is now more unequal than pre-Revolutionary France in 1789.
You can begin to see why all those billionaires are worried.
If you were like most Americans over the holidays you probably didn't have a lot of time to watch the news, after a year that seemed completely over-saturated with unnerving stories about how divided our society has become, how far it seems to be from any kind of civil or political rapprochement.
So you may have missed the GOP's Senator Marco Rubio of Florida lamenting his own recent vote on the tax bill. “If I were king for a day, this tax bill would have looked different,” he ruefully told the press after being asked for his impressions of the bill. “I thought we probably went too far on (helping) corporations.”
Too far? That implies that he knows it helps the rich and does nothing for the little guys. Of course he knows that. Every reputable economist has been saying so since they saw the bill.
Corporations will mostly use their new tax bonuses to give extra money to their shareholders and C.E.O.'s, which isn't going to create dramatic economic growth. It will mean they take that five-star holiday in the sun or buy that Ferrari, however.
But this historic governmental heist won't even stop there. The tax bill is projected to explode the national deficit by an expected $1 trillion, and right on cue Republicans will immediately claim they must cut social services such as social security and Medicaid to pay for it.
For decades Speaker Paul Ryan has conceived of this tax bill as a first step toward dismantling of the entire American welfare state, such as it. He wants nothing between you and ruination because he's driven by ideology, not sense.
The GOP's big gamble is that they hope that the American electorate is now so dejected and broken they won't have it in them to fight back any more. 2018 will be the year in which we discover how much fight the American worker has left.
What do you make of the new tax bill? Let us know your thoughts on the comments section, below.