#1625 Society of Extreme Wealth and its Discontents: Tax avoidance, wealth inequality and the detrimental effects felt by us all (Transcript)

Air Date 5/1/2024

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JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: [00:00:00] Welcome to this episode of the award-winning Best of the Left podcast in which we discuss the past, present, and future of tackling the uselessness of extreme wealth by exposing and closing tax avoidance loopholes and pushing for a culture change to embrace the need for a more equal society. Sources today include The Hartmann Report, Americans for Tax Fairness, Pullback, Novara Media, Gary's Economics, and Robert Reich, with additional members only clips from The Majority Report and Pullback.

What Happens When You Tax Billionaires at 90 Percent? - The Hartmann Report - Air Date 6-3-23

THOM HARTMANN - HOST, THE HARTMANN REPORT: What happens when you tax billionaires at 90%? You know, Succession, the TV show, is over, but the spoiled, entitled billionaire man-children still very much with us, running social media companies, owning newspapers and television networks, funding politicians and judges, who then keep their taxes low and their regulations minimal.

America's billionaires pay an average income tax rate of 3.1%. Are you paying [00:01:00] 3.1%? I'm willing to bet it's not the case, unless you happen to be a billionaire or worth five, six, seven hundred million dollars. 

What has that brought us? That has made America the most unequal society in the developed world. Nobody's even close. And the last time we had such severe poverty--and we have a homelessness epidemic here in America, it's not just people are poor; people are literally sleeping on streets. We not only have massive poverty in the United States, we also have insane wealth. Three men in the United States own more wealth than the bottom half of America. Of all Americans. 160 million Americans. Three men own more wealth than all of them. 

We read about roving gangs doing smash and grabs in Nordstrom and Home Depot. You got In red states our schools are falling apart because they're [00:02:00] redirecting money to vouchers to pay for all-white Christian academies. Gun violence is plaguing our nation, particularly in red states. Real high homicide rates in red states. Homelessness is stalking city dwellers at every turn. 

The last time we saw such inequality was during the Republican Great Depression and the so-called Roaring Twenties that preceded them. Now the Roaring Twenties were only roaring for the billionaires. Poverty actually increased in America during the 1920s, at the bottom half of the wage scale. But billionaires did really well in the 1920s, because when Warren Harding came into office in 1921, the top tax rate was 91%, he dropped it down to 25%. And so for the next decade, billionaires are making out like bandits. Many would argue they were bandits. And the rest of America got screwed. 

And then Franklin Roosevelt came along, in 1936. And he said, this will not stand. We're not gonna do this. We're gonna do something about this. In fact, we're going to [00:03:00] raise taxes. I've got some audio here from the 360, Sean. This is Franklin Roosevelt talking about taxes. 

FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT: Taxes, after all, are the dues that we pay for the privilege of membership in an organized society. And as society becomes more civilized, government, national and state and local, is called on to assume more obligations to its citizens. The privileges of membership in a civilized society have vastly increased in modern times. But I am afraid we have many who still do not recognize their advantages and want to avoid paying their dues. 

THOM HARTMANN - HOST, THE HARTMANN REPORT: There you go. And, he went on. There was one in particular, one particular comment. It's in my article. I don't have the audio in the article. But here's the audio. This is Franklin Roosevelt talking about how his rich friends--keep in mind, Franklin Roosevelt was born very, very rich--his rich, rich friends are a little concerned about his 90 percent top income tax rate.[00:04:00] 

FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT: A number of my friends who belong in these very high upper brackets have suggested to me on several occasions of late, that if I am re-elected president, they will have to move to some other nation because of high taxes here. Now I will miss them very much.

THOM HARTMANN - HOST, THE HARTMANN REPORT: So anyhow, what happened when FDR raised the tax rate to 91%, to 90 percent on the billionaires of his day, in today's dollars? Well, what happened was we saw the American middle class go from about 20 percent of Americans to over two thirds of Americans by 1981 when Reagan came into office. We saw poverty collapse. We saw old age poverty pretty much go away because of Social Security that he got us in 1935. We saw union membership [00:05:00] grow to the point where two thirds of Americans, when Reagan came into office, had the equivalent of a good union job, which is why two thirds of us were in the middle class. And life expectancy in the United States hit a peak that had never been seen in the history of the world. 

Now, what has happened in the 42 years since then, since Ronald Reagan instituted neoliberalism, Reaganomics? You know, I wrote a whole book about this, The Hidden History of Neoliberalism: How Reaganomics Gutted America. It's my most recent book in the Hidden History series. And what happened was, life expectancy crashed, in the United States, only in the United States, not in Europe, not in any of the other developed countries, but just in the United States, life expectancy crashed and as did wages. The middle class has gone from two thirds of us to 45 percent of us. And now it takes two jobs to maintain a middle class lifestyle instead of just the one you could do when Jimmy Carter was president, before Reagan.

FDR had it right. And we need to do this again. We need to raise the top [00:06:00] income tax rate bracket--just the bracket. It will only be paid by people making over a million dollars or over 10 million or over 50 million or wherever they want to set it.

When FDR set the top bracket, the top 90 percent bracket, he set that at above $50,000. Now, $50,000 back in 1932 was the equivalent of $1,100,000 today in annual income. So yeah, 90% income tax on income over $1.1 million. That's what he did. And what did it do? It rescued America. It built the American middle class. It got us out of the Great Depression. It expanded and extended our lifespans. It made Americans healthier. It stabilized us. We had 40, 50 years of peace and prosperity like we had never seen before and neither had the world. It worked. 

Now, Republicans are going to get all hysterical if you talk about raising the top income tax [00:07:00] bracket to 90%, like it was from literally, it was during World War I and then starting in the 1930s, went back up to 90 percent and stayed there. LBJ dropped it down to 74 percent in 1967. But what he did when he dropped it was he closed so many loopholes that it actually increased the actual income tax that was being paid by billionaires. Reagan dropped it down to 27%, and it's been in the 20s and 30s ever since then. And that's why your average billionaire now is paying 3.1 percent in income taxes. We need to do something about this. Let's make America great again.

#TaxBillionaires w/ Robert Reich, Sen. Ron Wyden, Rep. Jamaal Bowman, and more - Americans for Tax Fairness - Air Date 4 -18-22

SENATOR RON WYDEN: Again and again, during this period at home I'm hearing about tax fairness. And you'll have nurses and firefighters and working people basically ask one question: I pay my taxes with every paycheck; why should the billionaires get special treatment and get to pay taxes when they choose, [00:08:00] or in some cases, avoiding paying taxes for years on end? And here is my one sentence answer this Tax Day: The tax code is unfairly tilted to benefit billionaires, and as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, I'm pushing throughout the year to balance that tax system so it's fair to everybody. So it gives everybody in America the chance to get ahead. And as I've said at every stop, we want people in this country to be successful as part of the American dream, billionaires are not going to be any less successful if they pay their fair share, just like the nurses and the firefighters.

Here is [00:09:00] essentially how it all plays out. The nurses and the firefighters get income for their work. The billionaires work it out with their accountants and this battery of lawyers and specialists so that they essentially don't take an income. They get advised, and it's on the cover of publications all across the country, they use something called "buy, borrow, and die" to pay little or no taxes for years on end. They can have a wonderful lifestyle that way. They can get money to grow more wealthy. But it was unjust before the pandemic, and the pandemic has just spotlighted the unfairness. [00:10:00] You mentioned the fact that the billionaires made 2 trillion over the last couple of years. That works out to 114 million dollars every hour of every day the past two years. That's a pretty big loophole! And I want to close it with my billionaires income tax. So those who are at the very top are going to pay their fair share. That's what this is all about. 

More, that's why you all are called, Americans for Tax Fairness. This is about getting a fair shake for everybody in America. It's about protecting our democracy. A democracy finds it pretty hard to be healthy when the wealthiest, the wealthiest few, play by a set of rules they wrote themselves. That's not healthy. 

And you mentioned [00:11:00] that our bill involves something like 740 people. If they just paid a capital gains rate, because this is about evading capital gains taxes, the country would raise more than 550 billion over the next 10 years, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation. That'll do a lot to help schools and infrastructure and American priorities.

So we don't want people to lose faith in our system when they see these kinds of tax dodges. So this isn't just a fight to make the tax system more fair. It's a fight to protect core American values and American democracy.

Wealth Tax Part 1 - Pullback - Air Date 4-11-23

FARIYA MOHIUDDIN: When people say tax the rich, tax the rich, what does that actually mean? And that means taxing wealth rather than income. Because most [00:12:00] rich people don't make big salaries. I mean, some of them will make very large salaries, and I'm putting salaries in quotation marks. You'll hear, "Oh, this CEO's compensation package is worth," say a million, 2 million, what have you, but when you hear the words compensation package, a very small part of that will be in a waged labor income. The majority of the compensation package will be made up in assets, which are wealth. And so we want to be taxing that wealth.

And just to give people a primer, the rest of us plebs make money by getting a salary, and we get taxed on our income—that's an income tax. But, very rich people will ask to be paid an asset. So these are stocks, in some cases. This can be things like people will be like, "Oh, I would like to be paid in art." These are real things or gold bullion, if you will, you know, the [00:13:00] things you hear about when you work in this field. And those things are taxed very differently. In a lot of places wealth is taxed at a fraction, at a mere fraction of what income taxes are. In most of the OECD, so those are the group of developed countries, income taxes are somewhere in the 30 percent range. Wealth taxes on assets that can gain value over the course of the year, so this is often stock, real estate, maybe some forms of gold or gold bullion, depending, and this will be important, whether or not you've disclosed that you have these things, will be taxed often at 10%. That's called a capital gains tax. 

So if you're holding most of your money in these kinds of assets, you're not getting taxed at all. This is what people mean when you hear that Elon Musk paid an effective tax rate of 3 percent, because the majority [00:14:00] of his money is being held as Tesla stock, which is very valuable. He's not drawing a salary. 

KRISTEN PUE - HOST, PULLBACK: Yeah. And that's just the stuff that government knows about it. Am I right in thinking that it's kind of easier to hide wealth internationally than income? 

FARIYA MOHIUDDIN: Yeah. For example, art, gold bars, yachts. There are reasons why I'm bringing these sorts of assets up, or even mansions. What you can do is you can put your art or your gold bars or your yacht in what's called a free port. These are often ports, and I'm using again, ports as a place where goods come and then get transported. So these can be places that actually have a seaport or are free zones, I think is another term that people might know, where if you incorporate a company there that holds assets, you will not be taxed, at all. And so if you say, "okay, I'll make [00:15:00] Fariya FZ, LLC." which is a free zone company, LLC, and I say, "Actually, it's that company that owns my house, that owns all my art, that owns my yacht. I don't get taxed on that." 

But beyond that, often these kinds of entities are incorporated in countries or jurisdictions that have very, very strong secrecy laws. Governments have no way of finding out what it is that I'm actually holding. In fact, sometimes they might not even know that it's me that's holding it, because my name will be obscured. It will be what's called sometimes numbered companies, shell companies that will own these assets for me. So it can be very hard to even know what is actually owned. 

KRISTEN PUE - HOST, PULLBACK: Yeah, so the pervasive secrecy around wealth, am I right in thinking that that's one reason advocates are sometimes calling for wealth taxes to be implemented as a global thing? You could then have [00:16:00] rules set up internationally so that we would know what this wealth looked like, how much it was valued at, and things like that? 

FARIYA MOHIUDDIN: Absolutely. So, if people who've read Thomas Piketty's book will be familiar with a term called the Global Asset Register. It is a proposal to create a comprehensive international registry of all wealth and assets. And, what? They're real beneficial owners in order to tackle global tax abuse and redress inequalities. So this hits on two of the things I've said. 

One is the fact that most people will hold their wealth in other jurisdictions that will tax these assets at a very non existential rate, as in it, there's no taxes on the assets they hold in certain jurisdictions. These jurisdictions will have very strong financial secrecy. And the other thing is that even if you were able to see what assets are being held in certain [00:17:00] jurisdictions, the ability to find out who are the real beneficial owners, who is actually benefiting from the income that is being made or the value of these assets is often very hard to find. And so a global asset register aims to solve this problem, but that's why a wealth on taxes has to be a global effort. To capture all this wealth that's hidden in all the four corners of the world, but mostly in the Caribbean tax haven islands. 

KYLA HEWSON - HOST, PULLBACK: I actually have a question that might be a little pedantic and it's fine if you don't know the answer, but if someone is holding most of their wealth in art and yachts and houses, and we levy a 3 percent tax being like, "okay, your wealth is worth this much. You owe us, I don't know, a million dollars." What if they don't have a million dollars that's liquid, so then they have to sell one of their assets, but then that would lower their overall wealth? Like I said, maybe I'm being too pedantic. 

FARIYA MOHIUDDIN: Since they've bought that asset, it's appreciated in its [00:18:00] value. So even if they're selling it. If you're charging like 3 percent of the value of that thing, most of these assets will have appreciated more than that in the time that it was acquired. So if I have a painting that's worth $10 million and it appreciates in value 20%, even if you're taxing 3 percent of that, if I sell it, I'm still making a profit. 

No One Should Have More Than 10 Million Pounds | Ash Sarkar meets Ingrid Robeyns - Novara Media - Air Date 2-4-24

ASH SARKAR - HOST, NOVARA MEDIA: Does the principle of limitarianism exist between countries as well as within countries? Because of course there are huge wealth inequalities here in the UK, but even the poorest person in the UK is taking up much more of the carbon budget than the average person, say, in sub-Saharan Africa.

INGRID ROBEYNS: Yes, you're totally right. And I should say there are current debates or politicians in UK and Europe more broadly who argue also for reducing inequalities and have all sorts of proposals. And sometimes I really miss an acknowledgement of the international [00:19:00] dimension. And I should say that in this respect I discuss the studies done by Jason Hickel and his quarters. And it's not just that say you have Amazon, where the people in the --what does he call them? fulfillment centers, the warehouses --get bad working conditions, bad wages, et cetera. And Bezos takes all these billions. It's not just within the UK or a country, but even on a global scale, we really give bread crumbs to those who produce our mobile phones and our clothes and all the rest. And the rest goes, they go to the global North, but then they go also to those within the global North that have most money. So we should actually also have a conversation, not just about inequality within countries, but also globally.

And here I'm a bit pessimistic because I'm worried like, how far this is, how much people [00:20:00] are really willing to have this conversation. I really believe that in the global North, perhaps everybody, but definitely the middle class, but even much moreso the super rich, they live on money that they have --yeah, I would really want to use the word stolen --from those who in this global production get the breadcrumbs and also from the future.

But the problem is the more you think about this, the more you see how deeply unjust the situation is. And what I just encounter is that most citizens are so far from this analysis that the question is, how do you get them into that conversation? That for me is an important question.

ASH SARKAR - HOST, NOVARA MEDIA: And so, if I just reverse back to you, how do you get more people involved in that conversation? 

INGRID ROBEYNS: Yeah, so that was for me a reason to try to write this book with as little theoretical commitments as possible—manual, if you want to [00:21:00] say—and also to try to write it in a way that I hope is really accessibly written and also to bring in all these examples.

And yeah, that is it's not for me to judge whether I succeeded, but I think there is, of course, you have all these theories about political avant garde who will then take everybody along with them. But, I do think definitely because informal democracies, the voting system is really a system in which you can change things, but if the majority of people really start are mainly drawn into discussions about what I think is everything to do with scapegoating, talking about all these endless discussions about refugees and about migrants and about so-called "woke" topics, we don't talk enough about the economy. And I think that is for me very important to make it clear to. And people also tend to, they may be unhappy, but they may not have the analysis why they are unhappy. And [00:22:00] unhappy is actually, they may be dissatisfied with the way they're. And for example, I think the data that are widely spread among inequality analysis and political analysis on how much of the share that labor got from production in the past, how that has diminished, I think most workers don't know. 

ASH SARKAR - HOST, NOVARA MEDIA: This book is predominantly about Inequalities in distribution. But I was just thinking as you were talking about inequalities generated by production, and I was thinking about it with regards to the fact that in the global North, often the very cheapest things you can buy are the most carbon intensive and ecologically degrading, right? If you're poor in the UK, it is very expensive to buy vegetables and oil and cook them from scratch in your home. It's a lot cheaper to get some chicken nuggets from the takeaway. And if you are poor, that's what you'll do because that's what you can afford to do. It's also a lot more [00:23:00] ecologically damaging to do it that way. In order to buy clothes or things to have in your home, it's much cheaper to buy something from fast fashion or single use plastics than it is to buy something that's going to last forever. And I don't think it's right to almost wag the finger of shame and tell people "you should be more ecologically responsible" because they're buying what they can afford.

But it's also a global inequality that is reentrenched through the condition of being poor. And I suppose, how does the philosophy of limitarianism address inequalities of production, as well as inequalities of distribution? 

INGRID ROBEYNS: Yeah, so I want to say one thing about the case you just mentioned, then answer your question.

So that is the reason what you were just describing that the poor really can't live ecologically sustainable lives because they don't have the money. That is one of the reasons why we need something, whatever you call it, the Green New Deal, where the social and [00:24:00] ecological come together. I've really been convinced by research by people like Fergus Green, who works here in London, that we can't separate those two.

You gave some examples, but I think a really interesting example is in places where people drive cars. What the green of people now do is they buy electric cars and it's good. But people who don't have money can't buy an electric car. So that I think is social inequality and ecological inequality should be analyzed together.

Now your question about production: I actually agree. You raised it as a question, but you could also say it as a criticism that there's no really big analysis of production, which I think is, would be a fair criticism because in the end, the distribution of money is the symptom. It's actually at the same time, the symptom and the cause of further bad things. And I analyze it in the book as the cause of further bad things: the undermining of democracy and all these other things. But it is of course also the outcome [00:25:00] of a system that is an economic system, production system, that is deeply unjust, but in that production system, there are distributive effects in the production system. 

But many of the things we discussed earlier can come together. For example, the fossil fuel industry. I think the theoretical arguments really give us good reasons to want to nationalize the fossil fuel industry. So I've also written a quarter to paper giving those arguments why we should do this. However, it depends on --because we now actually have a lot of nationalized fossil fuel industries in the world, in say Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and so on. It's not as if these countries are scoring very well on keeping the oil in the ground. It depends again on what we can expect from the government. 

So yes. But still, I think the arguments are really that as long as something like the fossil fuel industry, is organized around [00:26:00] the profit motive, we're not going to solve this problem.

ASH SARKAR - HOST, NOVARA MEDIA: So you are a Marxist after all.

INGRID ROBEYNS: I don't care what people call me, I really don't care. 

ASH SARKAR - HOST, NOVARA MEDIA: So I suppose for my final question, if you could get one idea from this book implemented tomorrow, which one would you pick? 

INGRID ROBEYNS: Yeah, so I, I think this may be perhaps a surprising answer, but I think the first thing we need to do is if it's about really implementation of concrete policies, it is closing tax havens and really regulating the flow of money of capital in the world. Because as long as we have that it's going to be difficult, even if we were to have the political majority to change things, to implement more egalitarian policies. But that is at the level of policies. 

But what I really think we need in society is to have a much more intense political conversation among all people about what kind of society do we want and what is the economic system that fits with that society, [00:27:00] and really to bring the discussion about the economy and political economy central stage in the political discussions. And yeah, that's why I'm trying to make a contribution. 

Why Are Taxes So High? - Garys Economics - Air Date 3-10-24

GARY STEVENSON - HOST, GARYS ECONOMICS: Imagine you own, completely, your own house. No mortgage, no rent. You own your own house. Some of you will be in that position. Most of you won't be in that position. Now imagine you are in that position. How expensive will your life be? Well, for most people, their housing cost is a single biggest expense in their life, be that through paying rent or paying mortgage. If you own your own house, outright, you don't need to pay rent, you don't need to pay mortgage, and basically your costs in life are very low compared to somebody else. 

Now let's imagine [the] situation changes and suddenly you lose that house. You completely lose that house. And now, you still need to live, but you don't own your house. Your costs will massively increase because you have to pay rent for a whole house. You have to pay a mortgage on a whole house. So, if you own your house, your expenditures in [00:28:00] life are much lower than if you don't own your own house. Now keep this example in mind and we're going to start thinking about the government.

So, I talk a lot on this channel about increases in inequality of wealth. And what I say very often is that there are two groups in society who are losing their wealth, that is, ordinary working families, like you, unless you're very rich, and the government. And both of these groups have lost their wealth significantly.

Now, of course, if you're an ordinary family, especially if you're a young person from an ordinary family, it will be very visible to you that ordinary families are losing their wealth because you'll be probably struggling to buy a home or you may be in a situation where you think you can never buy a home compared to older generations who could buy property. But the loss of government wealth is often a lot less visible because we don't, you know, we are not the government, we don't think about what the government owns. 

So I went to a talk by famous French inequality economist Thomas Piketty, of whom I'm quite a big fan, a few years ago when I was at Oxford, and he showed us a graph, [00:29:00] which I still remember today, and we're going to show you that graph now, which basically shows you government wealth holding. So, what you can see in this graph is that all of the countries in this graph, the wealth holding of governments has decreased significantly over time. So, that one line at the top is China. You won't be surprised the Chinese government, it's essentially a communist country, the government owns a lot of the wealth in the country. The other countries on the graph are all Western countries. So, you've got the USA on there, UK in there, Germany, Japan, I think France is on there. And the story of the rest of these countries is basically all the same: the wealth holding of the government has decreased significantly over time.

And I want you to notice that in the case of both the UK and the US, that number went below 0% in the 2010s, so the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. So what that means is the total wealth of the UK government, the US government, and basically every other Western government is [00:30:00] in a pretty similar situation, is now below zero. So, that means these guys have debts bigger than their assets. And note that that graph ends in 2014. The situation during COVID got significantly worse. So, now these graphs will drop down significantly. And what you will see is significant negative wealth holding for the British government, for the American government, basically every Western government.

Now I want you to remember the story I told you about you and your house. Because Western governments, including the British and American governments, are basically in this situation. Back sort of 50 years ago, Western governments had a lot of wealth. They essentially owned their own house. Now, of course, when we talk about governments, it's not just housing. We're talking about governments owning things like hospitals, like schools. But of course, in the case of the UK, the UK government did own also a significant amount of housing back in the seventies. And governments have lost this wealth now. So ,governments are in the same situation basically as you would be if you lost your [00:31:00] home.

So, governments, you know, they provide, in the West, a lot of services, education, healthcare. They used to provide housing for the poorest people in the countries. And they were able to do this because they owned the wealth. They owned hospitals, they owned schools, they owned housing. And what we learnt from that Piketty graph that I showed you is that basically Western governments do not own any wealth anymore. And the fact that the number has dropped below zero means that not only do they not own wealth, they're actually in a significant amount of debt. 

So, what does that mean, right? Governments still need to provide you with healthcare, but they don't own the hospital. Governments still need to provide you with education, but they don't own the school. Governments still need to provide the poorest people in society with housing, but they don't own the homes. Now things like healthcare and education are never very cheap to provide anyway, you need to pay for doctors, you need to pay for teachers. But they're a lot cheaper to provide when you own the buildings. [00:32:00] If you don't own the building, then you need to pay rent on the building. If you have a massive amount of debt, then you need to pay interest on that debt. So, now, governments are in situations, just as you were in previously, they didn't need to pay that rent, they didn't need to pay that debt interest, and now they've got to pay it.

What that means is, if they want to provide you with the same level of service that they used to provide you with 30, 40, 50 years ago, they simply need more tax money because they no longer own the assets and they need to pay rent or interest on those assets. So, I think this is a really important thing for you to understand and it really completely explains the situation that we are in. The reason that governments are having to charge much higher levels of tax to provide much worse levels of service is quite simply because governments are much much poorer now. Governments are really poor. I mean governments are rich. They have what you could call in modern lingo passive income, you know, they own the property They [00:33:00] don't need to pay for the property and they can use those passive incomes to provide you with government services governments are no longer rich; governments are now very poor. They need to rent everything they use. They need to pay interest And that means they've taken that money from you. And despite taking more money from you, they can't provide services. That is what happens when you go from being rich to being poor. 

Now, this wouldn't necessarily be a problem if the assets which the government has lost, the wealth which the government has lost, were held by ordinary families. So, you know, one thing I want you to realize is this loss in government wealth—you know, these assets, these hospitals, these schools, they have not disappeared, they're all still here—these assets must have gone to somebody. And if those assets had gone to ordinary people, it wouldn't necessarily be a problem.

I think the best example to illustrate that is the council housing, right? So when council housing was sold off in sort of the eighties and the nineties, the [00:34:00] people who benefited from that initially were the people who lived in the council houses and council houses we're given to poor people. So, it benefited the poor people.

Now the government didn't have the homes, but the people who needed the housing owned their own homes. So, it wasn't initially a problem. If it was just a transfer of wealth from the government to the people, then it wouldn't necessarily matter because the people would be richer now, they could pay more taxes, or the government wouldn't need to provide so many services because you directly would own things like your own homes.

The problem that we have is that, actually, in the last, you know, 34 year period in which you have seen governments have massively lost their wealth, we have also seen a significant loss of wealth in ordinary families. And I think this is something I talk about a lot on the channel, but it is most visible in two things. Number one, the massively decreased home ownership rates for young people, you know, here in this country and in the US, ordinary families, their wealth, tends to [00:35:00] be in housing. So, if younger people are not getting housing, it's a sign that families are losing their wealth. And number two, the massively increased debt levels for ordinary families, especially families who managed to get a mortgage.

So, I think this creates a kind of interesting and confusing paradox, right? Which is how can it be possible that government has lost its wealth and ordinary families have lost their wealth? You know, the government gave, for example, the council housing to ordinary families. Now you have a situation where both ordinary families and governments are struggling to get housing. And I think this reveals the core of the problem, which is something I talk about a lot on this channel, which is, that wealth which transferred initially from the government to ordinary families has over time ended up being held by the very rich. And, you know, this happens to, if you want to understand the mechanism of this, you should watch the video we put a couple of weeks ago called "How you lose your house", which is ordinary people got this wealth from the [00:36:00] government, they use that wealth to support their lives, to support their retirements, to pay for end of life care, and they ended up selling that wealth to the rich. The end situation is, we end up in a place where both the government and ordinary families have very little wealth. 

Now this is, it's kind of a disastrous situation, right? Because we've already learned government is struggling to provide basic services now because government is poor. What does it mean if on top of that ordinary families are poor? Well, that means ordinary families can't afford housing, which means they really need housing. But the government, who used to have housing, doesn't have housing either, so they can't provide you with housing. It also means that people are living lives of greater poverty. They will live in worse conditions. They will live in worse housing. They'll eat worse diets. They will have more stress. They will probably face more crime, which means they'll need more healthcare, but the government can't provide more healthcare because the government has no [00:37:00] assets. 

So, I think this really realizes, makes real the problem that I talk about it on this channel. So, people who watch for a long time will know I'm very, very worried about growing inequality of wealth. And I think people have become used to the idea that inequality is a social problem. They're used to kind of people on the left arguing that we need less inequality because it's unfair. It's not good for society. My worry is deeper than that. My worry is that when you have very high levels of inequality, what it means is you can't get basic essential needs like housing and healthcare and education.

What if We Actually Taxed the Rich? - Robert Reich - Air Date 4-1-21

ROBERT REICH - HOST, ROBERT REICH: Income and wealth are now more concentrated at the top than at any time over the last 80 years. And our unjust tax system is a big reason why. The tax code is rigged for the rich, enabling a handful of wealthy individuals to exert undue influence over our economy and democracy. Conservatives fret [00:38:00] about budget deficits. Well then, to pay for what the nation needs ending poverty, universal health care, infrastructure, reversing climate change, investing in communities, so much more, the super wealthy have to pay their fair share.

First, Repeal the Trump tax cuts. It's no secret Trump's giant tax cut was a giant giveaway to the rich. 65 percent of its benefits go to the richest fifth. 83 percent for the richest 1 percent over a decade. In 2018, for the first time on record, the 400 richest Americans paid a lower effective tax rate than the bottom half. Repealing the Trump tax cuts benefits to the wealthy and big corporations will raise an estimated 500 billion over a decade. 

Second, raise the tax rate on those at the top. In the 1950s, the highest tax rate on the richest Americans was over 90%. Even after tax deductions and [00:39:00] credits, they still paid over 40%. But since then, tax rates have dropped dramatically. Today After Trump's tax cuts, the richest Americans pay less than 26%, including deductions and credits. And this rate applies only to dollars earned in excess of $523,601. Raising the marginal tax rate by just 1 percent on the richest Americans would bring in an estimated $123 billion over 10 years.

Third, a wealth tax on the super wealthy. Wealth is even more unequal than income. The richest one tenth of 1 percent of Americans have almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent put together. Just during the pandemic, America's billionaires added $1.3 trillion to their collective wealth. Elizabeth Warren's proposed wealth tax would charge 2 percent on wealth over $50 [00:40:00] billion, and 3 percent on on wealth over $1 billion, who would only apply to about 75, 000 U. S. households, fewer than one tenth of 1 percent of taxpayers. Under it, for example, Jeff Bezos would owe $5. 7 billion out of his $185 billion fortune. That's less than half of what he made in one day last year. The wealth tax would raise $2.75 trillion over a decade, enough to pay for universal child care and free public college with plenty left over.

Fourth, a transactions tax on trades of stock. The richest 1 percent owns 50 percent of the stock market. A tiny one tenth of 1 percent tax on financial transactions, just 1 per 1, 000 traded, would raise $777 billion over a decade. [00:41:00] That's enough to provide housing vouchers to all homeless people in America more than 12 times over.

Fifth, end the stepped up cost basis loophole. The heirs of the super rich pay zero capital gains taxes on huge increases in the value of what they inherit because of a loophole called the stepped up basis. At the time of death, the value of assets is stepped up to their current market value. So a stock that was originally valued at, say, $1 when purchased, but that's worth $1,000 when heirs receive it, escapes $999 of capital gains taxes. This loophole enables huge and growing concentrations of wealth to be passed from generation to generation without ever being taxed. Limiting this loophole would raise $105 billion over a decade. 

Six, close other loopholes for the super rich. For example, one way the [00:42:00] managers of real estate, venture capital, private equity, and hedge funds reduce their taxes is the carried interest loophole, which allows them to treat their income as capital gains rather than ordinary wage income. That means they get taxed at the lower capital gains rate rather than the higher tax rate on incomes. Closing this loophole is estimated to raise $14 billion over a decade. 

Seven, increase IRS funding. Because the IRS has been so underfunded, millionaires are far less likely to be audited than they used to be. As a result, the IRS fails to collect a huge amount of taxes from the wealthy. Collecting all unpaid federal income taxes from the richest 1 percent would generate at least $1.75 trillion over the decade. So fully fund the IRS. 

[00:43:00] Together, these seven ways of taxing the rich would generate more than six trillion dollars over ten years, enough to tackle the great needs of the nation. As inequality has exploded, our unjust tax system has allowed the richest Americans to cheat their way out of paying their fair share. It's not radical to rein in this irresponsibility. It's radical to let it continue.

The Big Lie Billionaires Want You To Believe - The Majority Report w/ Sam Seder - Air Date 3-25-24

SAM SEDER - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: You have a chapter entitled "Nobody Deserves to be a Multi-Millionaire". This is where we start getting into sort of like the ethical and moral implications of this. Where, to be honest with you, I am, less comfortable on some level because I don't really care one way or another about the moral or ethical implications of this generally. It's just incredibly dysfunctional in my estimation and not the way we should go. But it is something that is deployed when you raise this to people in this country, the idea of a confiscatory [00:44:00] tax It's like, how could you, on moral grounds? There's no sort of practical argument that they have in... well, there is a practical argument, we can address that in a moment, you know, entrepreneurship and whatnot. And, you know, progress. But, what is it about the question of desert? 

INGRID ROBEYNS: Yes. So, I accept this is really an argument for moral philosophy, but the argument is, in moral philosophy, you have theories of desert, and in the idea of meritocracy, the basic moral core is that people deserve a certain amount of wealth or certain material outcomes because of something that has to do with their own personal actions or effort. And here we tend to think that those who are very successful economically that they have [00:45:00] done something that makes them deserving of that economic success. But there is an idea of human nature underlying this type of reasoning, which emphasizes individual properties—our talents and our efforts—and I think it downplays the very large role of luck in our lives.

And here I draw on research from various disciplines. But basically, there's the natural lottery, the social lottery, and there's also something called market luck. The natural lotteries, where you are born, so with the kind of genetic makeup you have, the talents you have, but also, for example, whether you're prone to illnesses, also something like the energy levels that you may have in your body constitutively. Those are just merely things, if you happen to be a strong person, you are very lucky. And then I think the right attitude is counting your blessings rather than saying, Look, this is me, I deserve everything I can do [00:46:00] with this body and these talents that I've received.

The social lottery is the parents you got, or the environment, for example, if you're born in the US, you're much more lucky than if you're born in, let's say, Somalia or Afghanistan. We don't need to explain this. So, that means that if you are born in a country that offers lots of opportunity, again, the right attitude is to say, Well, I've been lucky that I was born here, rather than to believe that whatever people who do not receive any opportunities can make of their lives is their responsibility.

So, the bottom line is that I think the view of human nature that we should embrace is one that acknowledges the huge influence of luck on our lives. And if we were to take that view of human nature, rather than the one that focuses on individual responsibility and individual merit that is dominant in the neoliberal view of human nature, we would look at the deservingness of our economic success in a different [00:47:00] way.

I know this is a metaphysically kind of destabilizing, or kind of, perhaps I would say non-mainstream view, that I'm advocating there, but I believe it to be true based on what I know from what I've read in the sciences. 

SAM SEDER - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: This is, I should say, it's pretty mainstream here, at least on this program, that perspective. But I wonder, too, how much does the vestige of religion work at play here. Because it seems to me that, like, the way that you ignore luck in this instance, which of course is, like you say, a function in this country of, What area code were you born in? Who are your parents? All of this seems to me to be like, if you ignore the fact that you got lucky, it has to be some semblance [00:48:00] of like, I have been, I received these skills or whatnot because I was in some respects chosen. And I wonder how much of that is a vestige of a religious rubric, if you will, and why that would be so prominent in the US versus, let's say, European countries. 

INGRID ROBEYNS: So, I should say, this is not my area of expertise. I don't have any expertise on the effect of religion on wealth distribution, so I'm just going to say some general things that I believe to be true, but you can correct me if you think I'm wrong. So, I think it has to do with, probably with, Protestantism and that, in Europe, I guess the type of Protestantism, that the way it's [00:49:00] been developed, it might be a bit different than in the US, and of course we also still have half of Europe is Catholic, or we still have other influences too, of course. You have different types of minority religions, and to the east, you have more Orthodox churches. And I think, of course, if you believe that you were chosen by God and that your talents have been given to you, and you have a whole story around this, yeah, then there's little I can say to a person who believes that they deserve it in that sense. 

So, I should just say, it's just the case that my book is written from a secular perspective. Perhaps this is different in Europe than in the US, but I just think we can't think about how we should organize society from a religious perspective, because there are plenty of people who are not religious, and there are also, among those who are religious, there are very different points of view. So, yeah, that's the best I can make of it, I fear. 

SAM SEDER - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: Well, I mean, we [00:50:00] look back at the era of monarchs and rulers up until really the advent of democracy, and it was all justified by divine right. And if you were in that position and you had the opportunity to have the biggest army or your dad was king and so now you're king, it all is okay and morally justified because that's the way God wanted it. 

INGRID ROBEYNS: Yeah. But, you know, I think people who have excessive power will always come up with, you could say, constructed reasons to justify why they believe they should have that money. And suppose they're now trying to justify why they have all those billions. Well, they would probably say, they would start to talk about their own input, their own efforts, their own genius. There are also plenty of super rich people who [00:51:00] believe that they are of a different type of, special type of human beings who are geniuses, whereas, if you were really to kind of look into detail on how they became so rich, there's also really this enormous effect of luck.

Actually, one of the three types of luck that I didn't explain, but market luck is also a form of luck. Robert Frank has written this fantastic little book called Success and Luck. He's an economist and he explains how, even among those who are equally talented and equally able and willing to put in an effort, luck still plays a major role in who will get, say, the dominance of a product in the market, or who will be picked as a CEO. And, yeah, I think it's eye opening to see from studies the importance of luck in our lives. And of course, if you take a religious view and then just say, luck is what God has given me, then I think I can no longer argue with such a person. 

Wealth Tax Part 2 - Pullback - Air Date 4-11-23

FARIYA MOHIUDDIN: There's a few things that a wealth tax does. So the point [00:52:00] that both of you have raised is that a small tax on this large amount of wealth that has accumulated can solve a lot of the budget constraints that we're facing in the social sectors. When governments pass austerity measures, it's always education, health, social care that gets hit and we're constantly being told, "well, we don't have the money for it." And you know what, here's where the money actually is. 

But beyond that, I think there's a sense, there's been a growing sense, particularly after this experience in the —I don't want to say the pandemic is over, it's not—in the first part of the pandemic that some people really have it much easier. And things are getting harder for whom it is not already easy. This generational divide between boomers and millennials, where what a boomer could do, we simply can't because people have pulled the [00:53:00] ladder up behind them. And part of that ladder is this accumulation of wealth. 

I don't have the numbers from Canada, but in the U. S., since 1979, incomes for the top 0. 1 percent increased by 349%. Crazy numbers. 15 times as much as the increase for the bottom 90 percent of earners over the same period. And these incomes, these big CEO paychecks or what have you, has allowed them to buy up assets and to create incomes and then accumulate year after year creating these huge fortunes.

So taxing income at higher rates is important, but it doesn't touch this wealth that's already managed to accumulate. So looking at someone's salary is not a real measure of their true economic status or their ability to pay their fair share. And that's what it's about. It's about redressing this fact that A very few amount of people hold a [00:54:00] massive amount of wealth and they are making it actively harder for us to pay for society. And as you said, if it's a subscription to society, they're stealing from us, and that's part of how they steal. 

KYLA HEWSON - HOST, PULLBACK: I know we've already touched on this, but some of the wild ways that people are hiding their money is stocks, vacation properties, trust funds, yachts— if you have more than one yacht, I mean, honestly, if you have a yacht at all— expensive art, savings, cars, you add all of that up and then you subtract people's liabilities, like mortgages, credit card debt, outstanding loans, et cetera, and then you're like, okay, 3 percent of what you have here is what you owe to us. It's not hard. It's the hiddenness of it all, but we're going to talk about how to get around that i n —we've talked about it a little bit, but it's not impossible to do.

KRISTEN PUE - HOST, PULLBACK: Yeah. Something I just want to add, we've talked about this before, but I think it's important to highlight that the effective tax that the very wealthier paying is actually in a lot of cases [00:55:00] lower than the tax rate that people at the bottom of the income spectrum are paying, and that this gap in taxing wealth has a lot to do with that.

So in 2018, for the first time, this is for the U. S., Canada often lacks a lot of information about these kinds of things, but for the U. S. anyway, in 2018, for the first time, secretaries were paying a higher effective tax rate than CEOs, which I think highlights, a huge gap that needs to be solved. Maybe Fariya, as you're alluding to, a wealth tax isn't the only thing that will solve it, and on its own it won't solve it, but it's a huge part of the solution, I think. 

FARIYA MOHIUDDIN: Yeah, and also, I think it's also the scale of it. There's trillions, trillions of dollars of wealth hidden around the world. And when governments are talking about the scale of the social problems they're trying to solve, the scale is billions. And [00:56:00] so even putting a minuscule tax like three percent on trillions of dollars of wealth raises incredible amounts of money to solve these social problems. It's this thing of well, $600 billion is a lot. Sure, $600 billion is a lot, but the scale of hidden wealth is estimated to be around 8 trillion USD. 

KYLA HEWSON - HOST, PULLBACK: Well, and in Canada, the combined wealth that we know of, of the richest 1 percent, is about a trillion dollars. And people don't understand exactly how much money that is. So I actually did some math for how much money would be needed for a lifetime. So if you're spending, let's say, $300,000 a year, which I think is a pretty healthy budget, personally. It's more than I'll probably ever have. It would take you 333 years to spend $100 million. And I just want people to sit with that for a second. A hundred million dollars is three hundred thousand dollars a year for 333 years. 

KRISTEN PUE - HOST, PULLBACK: The other thing I want to highlight is that most [00:57:00] proposals for wealth taxes, they're targeting really the very top, just tiny chunk of the wealth spectrum. Most wealth tax proposals are not going after upper middle class people, they're going after the Scrooge McDucks. So if you're somebody who's making a fairly high income who has a house, maybe there is an argument that there should be a wealth tax on that. I'm kind of of that view. But, really, we're targeting people, in the Canadian proposal anyway that have $20 million dollars in wealth or more. And that is much more than the vast majority of Canadians have. It'd be about 25,000 families in a population of 37 million, something like that. So a very, very small chunk of people. 

KYLA HEWSON - HOST, PULLBACK: And people are proposing 1 percent or 2 percent or 3 percent on 20 million. I think they can afford 3%, you know what I mean? It's ridiculous. Some countries that have already implemented a [00:58:00] wealth tax are Norway, Spain, Argentina, France, Columbia, Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, and Switzerland. And Switzerland's a really interesting one because it's a really good example of this argument... I was, oh my god, you guys, I was reading arguments from the right against wealth taxes and the Fraser Institute was publishing a whole bunch of stuff about "this is why a wealth tax is bad for the economy. The rich would flee our country." And it's like, well, first of all.. 

KRISTEN PUE - HOST, PULLBACK: There's no evidence to suggest that capital flight happens. 

KYLA HEWSON - HOST, PULLBACK: It just feels so disingenuous to read arguments from the right against wealth taxes because they're like, "Oh, it's going to hit the little guy who earns $235,000 a year. And I'm like, first of all, that's not the little guy. And second of all, that's not even who we're talking about. 

KRISTEN PUE - HOST, PULLBACK: Yeah, I just think in the context of that, it's worth highlighting that while taxes are extremely popular. So even though the right is trying very hard, there has been polling in Canada, at least to suggest that about 80 percent of Canadians support a wealth tax. And that includes, by the way, about two [00:59:00] thirds of conservative voters. So across the political spectrum, this is something that's popular, which is why I find it so surprising that it hasn't been more seriously discussed as something that we should do right now. 

FARIYA MOHIUDDIN: It's also coming from millionaires themselves. There's been movements like patriotic millionaires, resource generation, there's a group of a hundred millionaires and billionaires from nine countries that, back in January, 2022, published an open letter to government and business leaders saying like, "please tax us. We don't want to be rich, but then live in countries where the state is collapsing. There's no point in us having 10 yachts if," I'll take the example of the UK, "the NHS is collapsing in on itself. There's no point in that."

KYLA HEWSON - HOST, PULLBACK: Yeah. Cause who's going to work on your yacht if everyone's sick?

Summary 4-30-24

JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: We've just heard clips today starting with The Hartmann Report doing a rundown of the history of the top level tax bracket. Americans for Tax Fairness [01:00:00] described the buy, borrow, and die strategy of tax evasion. Pullback explained how the rich are paid in ways that allow them to legally avoid taxes. Novara Media discussed wealth inequality and why this needs to be an international rather than national topic. Gary's Economics looked at how the existence of the super-rich ends up raising taxes for the rest of us. And Robert Reich gave a brief rundown of seven strategies to tax wealth. That's what everybody heard, but members also heard bonus clips from The Majority Report, looking at the cultural roots of our belief in the deserving rich. And Pullback described to the benefits of everyone paying their fair share. To hear that and have all of our bonus content delivered seamlessly to the new members-only podcast feed that you'll receive, sign up to support the show bestoftheleft.com/support, or shoot me an email requesting a financial hardship membership, because we don't let a lack of funds stand in the way of hearing more information. And now we'll hear from [01:01:00] you.

Responding to protesters threatening to not vote for Biden - Nick from California

VOICEMAILER NICK FROM CALIFORNIA: Hey, Jay, this is Nick from California. It's been a while. I've been unplugging a lot lately, so I've been a little behind on all podcasts but I've been catching back up and I think I caught some out of the wrong order and I think the Israel-Palestine episode was the most recent episode. And I listened to it and I just, I don't know what we should do because on one hand, I understand why people are Joe Biden a tough time on what he's doing in Israel. At the same point, like if Trump gets elected because of this issue, we would then have someone in there who would actively celebrate the carnage there or, you know... it would be worse. And I just have been like, well, what do you do when you have the person that's the lesser of the two evils [01:02:00] not be the lesser of two evils on an issue or very least not enough of a lesser of an evil on an issue that is very important to some and the alternative is Trump. I just, I hear these people's voices saying that, Well, if Joe Biden loses, it's the Democrats' fault, it's his fault. That's fine, but it doesn't matter whose fault it is. It doesn't matter whose fault it is. The fact of the matter is, I don't know that our country can survive another Trump administration. I mean, just full out, I don't know: climate change, I mean, everything. I just, I don't know what will happen under another Trump administration, but there is a much higher probability that we implode as a country, maybe as a species, with Trump at the helm again, and maybe we lose our democracy completely. And you know, that's terrifying to me. And I just, I really don't know the answer. I'm [01:03:00] not saying that these people are wrong in their thinking. They're not wanting to support Biden. And I, you know, it doesn't really matter to me whose fault it is in the end. what matters is what is going to be the ramifications over the next four years? Given the horrors in Gaza, I really don't know what the answers are. So, thanks.

Final comments on anger and irrationality in war and politics

JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: Thanks to Nick for those comments. It is definitely a complicated matter to attempt to either understand or influence a person's personal voting decisions. But we try anyway. Every four years around this time, basically like clockwork, I find myself having to give a few of these little talks about voting mechanics and theories of change, because there's always a segment of the population who feels very passionately about voting based on something other than a dispassionate weighing of the options that will hopefully actually take themselves and society as a [01:04:00] whole to a better place, rather than a worse place. 

Now in 2016, this is a classic case, it was the 'Bernie or bust' crowd that was so incensed, and rightfully so, that the DNC and the Clinton campaign did a bunch of things against the Bernie Sanders campaign and so the Bernie supporters—not all of them, not by a long shot, I was Bernie Sanders supporter and did not follow this logic—but some Bernie Sanders supporters felt like they needed to then turn and use their vote in the general election, after Bernie had lost the primaries, to send a message or to inflict punishment on the Democratic Party or on Hillary Clinton or just even defeat this person who they saw as someone too terrible to be elected, even if it meant electing someone demonstrably more terrible. And that is pretty much the situation we find ourselves in today, but [01:05:00] it's far from a perfect analogy. Because the complaint against Clinton and company was largely that she was too much of the establishment and too much of a neo-liberal, a complaint I sympathize with, but, you know, I wouldn't risk right-wing authoritarianism just to defeat establishmentarianism or neo-liberalism, while the complaint today against Biden is that he's complicit in genocide. Which is admittedly a problem of notably higher gravity. And so that does complicate things a bit. Or, you know, at least it makes the emotional drive to vote in a way that would send a message or inflict punishment, or even to defeat someone seen as too terrible to be elected, it makes all that much more understandable. The fact that the opponent is, you know, same dude and is still demonstrably worse, even on this specific topic of Israel and Gaza, you know, not just in general, but on this [01:06:00] topic, it continues to make that emotional reaction illogical, even if it is still understandable. 

Now, if you want to understand these dynamics, maybe not super well, but possibly as well as you can, I recommend a recent article from Slate magazine titled "The Storm Brewing in Michigan. Are Arabs in the state really prepared to hand the presidency back to Donald Trump? In a word: yes". And this piece was written by an Arab-American reporter who went to Michigan—or maybe it lives there, I'm not sure—to speak with other Arab-Americans about the presidential election and their feelings toward Joe Biden in light of his support of Israel during the war in Gaza. The article describes the anger toward Biden among this crowd as "intense and tangible", and the writer also says, "I've now come to understand the incandescent rage [01:07:00] many feel toward Biden". And to me, just the use of that phrase—"incandescent rage"—almost precludes, like, first of all, it's very illuminating. Like, I'm really glad to have that insight to really understand how people are feeling. But it also, you know, like, when I think of someone who is in a state of incandescent rage, I think of a person basically precluded from the possibility of clear thought and analysis, which is not at all to dismiss the rage as irrational in the least. I think the rage is completely justified. Just as—again, another imperfect analogy—just as Americans we're right to be angry after 9/11 and Israelis were right to be angry after October 7th. But in both of those cases, that anger was channeled to retaliate wildly in the hope of doing maximal damage which was successful in one sense, but which also came at [01:08:00] the great cost of much self-inflicted damage. And my concern is that the Arab community in the US is about to do the same thing. 

But, impacts to that specific community aside, the writer did manage to find one local Arab-American in Dearborn, Michigan, who would admit to planning on voting for Biden. And that person said, "It's depressing to think of our community as being so selfish. You're willing to put someone who, there's no question, will be a worse president for Black people than Joe Biden. He's going to be worse for more people. Things are going to be worse for students, for workers, for gay people, for women. That different matters". And the writer continues, "the small difference between candidates may seem insignificant to some, he said, but he believes four more years of Trump will have tangible consequences for real people. 'One of their neighbors is going to not be able to make rent because of this fucking decision. Your kids' [01:09:00] art program at school is going to close because of this shit. And people feel so righteous. That's the part that bothers me. The world as a whole matters, he said. His children are half Black and one is trans. He doesn't understand how no one can see what another Trump presidency will bring". 

And then the final quote that I'll read from this interview, the guy says, quote, "Previous generations of Arab activists understood this. They didn't see Palestine in a vacuum. They saw it as part of an international struggle. So, deciding everything else has to come to a stop to make this thing that isn't going to change anything policy-wise, it's a literal objective fact that Donald Trump's proposed notions for Palestine are worse than Biden's, which is hard to do". And he actually goes on to praise the activism, you know, meaning that if it was directed in the right way, it would be really powerful and good for their local constituency, [01:10:00] where people who care about Palestine can truly have a voice, but he laments that all of that energy is going into defeating Biden, to send a message, or inflict punishment, or maybe even to defeat him because it'll feel good in the moment to get rid of someone you see as having genocidal blood on your hands, as you know, of course it would. But to actively usher in someone demonstrably much, much worse, like Trump, not just for your own community, but many others as well, is going to be the self-inflicted damage that makes the desire for revenge ultimately not worth it. 

That is going to be it for today. As always keep the comments coming in. I would love to hear your thoughts or questions about this or anything else. You can leave a voicemail or send us a text at 202-999-3991 or simply email me to [email protected]. Thanks to everyone for listening. Thanks to Deon Clark and Erin Clayton for their research work for the show and participation in our bonus episodes. [01:11:00] Thanks to our Transcriptionist Quartet, Ken, Brian, Ben, and Andrew, for their volunteer work helping put our transcripts together. Thanks to Amanda Hoffman for all of her work behind the scenes and her bonus show co-hosting. And thanks to those who already support the show by becoming a member or purchasing gift memberships. You can join them by signing up today bestoftheleft.com/support, through our Patreon page, or from right inside the Apple podcast app. Membership is how you get instant access to our incredibly good and often funny bonus episodes, in addition to there being extra content, no ads, and chapter markers in all of our regular episodes, all through your regular podcast player. You'll find that link in the show notes, along with a link to join our Discord community, where you can also continue the discussion. 

So, coming to you from far outside the conventional wisdom of Washington DC, my name is Jay, and this has been the Best of the Left podcast coming to you twice weekly, thanks entirely to the members and donors to the show, from bestoftheleft.com.

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