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Beyond Outrage

What Has Gone Wrong with Our Economy and Our Democracy, and How to Fix It

By Robert B. Reich
15-minute read
Beyond Outrage: What Has Gone Wrong with Our Economy and Our Democracy, and How to Fix It by Robert B. Reich

Beyond Outrage provides a sobering analysis of what has gone wrong in American politics and economics. Looking at the distribution of wealth and income imbalance, it convincingly argues that we must wrest government from the hands of the regressive right.

  • Anyone who is interested in US politics
  • Anyone who worries about growing wealth inequality
  • Anyone who wants to improve American economic policy and democracy

Robert B. Reich is a Professor for Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California. He has worked for three presidential administrations, last serving as Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton, and has also worked as an adviser for Barack Obama. In addition, he has written twelve books that champion liberal causes.

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Beyond Outrage

What Has Gone Wrong with Our Economy and Our Democracy, and How to Fix It

By Robert B. Reich
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Contains 9 key ideas
Beyond Outrage: What Has Gone Wrong with Our Economy and Our Democracy, and How to Fix It by Robert B. Reich
Synopsis

Beyond Outrage provides a sobering analysis of what has gone wrong in American politics and economics. Looking at the distribution of wealth and income imbalance, it convincingly argues that we must wrest government from the hands of the regressive right.

Key idea 1 of 9

Government policy over the last 30 years has allowed the gap between rich and poor to widen dramatically.

Have you ever wondered why, despite the fact that the American economy has grown consistently over the last three decades, your wage hasn’t changed a bit?

In fact, the average American worker’s monthly pay has grown by only $280 in thirty years. We have to ask ourselves, who is benefitting from all of this economic growth?

While the working and middle classes have seen very little change in their wealth, the rich have enjoyed the lion’s share. Indeed, over the last few decades the gap between rich and poor has grown at a terrifying rate.

In the ‘60s and ‘70s, the top one-percent earned somewhere between nine and ten percent of the total income nationally. In 2007 that number had more than doubled at 23.5 percent. Even more frightening is the fact that the wealthiest 400 Americans are now wealthier than the 150 million lowest earners put together!

Moreover, the average wage of CEOs has gone from being “only” 40 times that of their average workers to 400 times over the same 30 year period.

So what caused this startling rise in inequality? In essence: tax cuts that mainly benefit the wealthy.

The United States saw several tax cuts for the rich under both the Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush administrations. Looking at the period between 1958 and 2008, you notice that the average effective tax rate, i.e., the rate people actually pay after all the tricks and loopholes have been exploited, has dropped from from 51 percent to only 26 percent for the top one percent.

What’s more, the rich also earn a great deal of their income in the form of capital gains, that is, profits that come from stocks, bonds or real estate. Capital gains are taxed at only 15 percent instead of the 35 percent for wages in their tax bracket.

Meanwhile, the income tax on the average middle-class worker has increased from 15 to 16 percent.

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