Though I am not a fan of CNN this commentary really caught my attention and I had to share it with everyone out there who cares and pays attention to the ignorance of the 1% to the 9% who really count in this nation.
(CNN) — Venture capitalist Tom Perkins is back in the news with a big (and ridiculous) idea: If you pay a million dollars in taxes, you should get a million votes. While some media outlets have since pointed out that Perkins was perhaps courting controversy, his system of wealthier Americans having more say at the ballot box follows an equally bizarre argument this week from Bud Konheim, CEO of luxury retailer Nicole Miller.
Konheim took a different tack on the inequality debate, asserting instead that all Americans are wealthy. According to Konheim, “We’ve got a country that the poverty level is wealth in 99% of the rest of the world. So we’re talking about woe is me, woe is us, woe is this. … The guy that’s making, oh my God, $35,000 a year. … Why don’t we try that out in India or some country we can’t even name … China, anyplace — that guy is wealthy.”
For now, it’s safe enough to assume that Perkins’ dollar-a-vote initiative is unlikely to take off. But Konheim’s argument actually falls into a growing category — members of the wealthiest income group in the country trying to convince average Americans that they, too, are all very wealthy.
Last summer, a commercial funded by the conservative Charles Koch Foundation tried to persuade people that the middle class in America is actually rich by pointing out that someone making over $34,000 — a decidedly middle-class income — was part of “the wealthiest 1% in the world.”
Seriously? Let’s look more closely at this idea that the poor — or even the middle class — in America are actually wealthy.
Konheim’s argument probably does not hold much weight among millions of Americans who skipped filling a prescription in 2012 because of the costs, according to Commonwealth Fund’s Biennial Health Insurance Survey. Nor does it likely ring true for many in the middle class who are trying to buy a home at a time when home prices have doubled since 1970. And let’s not forget the cost of a public four-year college education, which has risen by an eye-watering 250% over the past 30 years.
The federal poverty level in the United States for a family of four is $23,550, significantly less than estimated living expenses. More than 3 million Americans earn the minimum wage or lower, and today’s minimum wage has 30% less buying power in real terms than the minimum wage in 1968. Or put another way, someone on minimum wage would have to work for more than 130 hours to buy the $950 dress that Konheim’s company is selling right now at Saks Fifth Avenue.
Editor’s note: Jennifer Erickson is the director of Competitiveness and Economic Growth at the Center for American Progress, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of Americans through progressive ideas and action.