The Occupy Wall Street protests, since they began, have received a fair bit of ire from the 1 percent, as some of the richest Americans have taken exception to the protesters’ focus on growing income inequality and the political power of corporations. Bloomberg today rounded up a series of billionaires and wealthy CEOs griping about how unfair the criticism of them has been, likening the Occupy protesters to imbeciles and saying that the protesters’ call for the rich to pay their fair share is vomit-inducing:
— HOME DEPOT CO-FOUNDER BERNIE MARCUS: “Who gives a crap about some imbecile? Are you kidding me?”
— HOME DEPOT CO-FOUNDER KEN LANGONE: “I am a fat cat, I’m not ashamed…If you mean by fat cat that I’ve succeeded, yeah, then I’m a fat cat. I stand guilty of being a fat cat.”
— FORMER BB&T BANK CEO JOHN ALLISON: “Instead of an attack on the 1 percent, let’s call it an attack on the very productive. This attack is destructive.”
— PAYCHECX INC. FOUNDER TOM GOLISANO: “If I hear a politician use the term ‘paying your fair share’ one more time, I’m going to vomit.“
But it’s simply undeniable that the richest 1 percent have seen their income explode in the last few decades, and that many of them are not paying their fair share in taxes, taking advantage of loopholes, tax havens, and the preferential tax treatment of investment income to drive their tax rates down below the rate paid by middle-class families. In just the last few decades, taxes on the richest one percent sunk dramatically. At the very top of the income scale, share of income of the 400 richest Americans quadrupled in the last 12 years, while their effective tax rates were halved:
As Reuters’ Felix Salmon put it, “let’s not kid ourselves that the men with the billions…are in any way hard done by. Not when there’s so much real hardship in America.” Indeed, last week the Census Bureau reported that about half of Americans are either living in poverty or qualify as low-income.