Chris Hayes decided to revisit his Welcome to Inequalistan segment which we featured from the second week of his his new series on MSNBC as his “story of the week” on this Saturday's show. Hayes opened up the segment by showing a scene from Annie Hall where Marshall McLuhan made a cameo appearance to correct one of the characters in the movie who was misrepresenting his work, telling him “You know nothing of my work” and Woody Allen addressing the camera directly in the movie, saying “If life was only like this.”
HAYES: Well, this week, we had kind of the wonk version of exactly that scene because for over a month, the Occupy Wall Street movement around the country has been growing and occupying the nation's attention with the same simple rallying cry... “We are the ninety nine percent.” And though there are no concrete demands or agenda, the one complaint, the central complaint is clear. The top one percent have managed to rig the game in their favor and capture a shocking percentage of the nation's total wealth.
And then amidst dismissals from the establishment and attacks from conservatives aimed at the wooly headed, naive, drum-circling hippies, comes a new report from the Congressional Budget Office that says to Occupy Wall Street critics, “You know nothing of my work.”
Hayes showed this chart from the recent CBO report which shows the shares of market income for the different income groups in 1979 compared to 2007 and as he noted, the only group that increased their share of the national income was the upper one percent of the country's wealthiest individuals.
HAYES: You have massively expanding inequality in income with the one percent managing to eat a larger and larger part of the national pie. But here's what's even more damning. As pre-tax inequality has increased, the government's response has been to make our tax system, less progressive. In other words at the same time the top one percent are getting more and more of the national income, we are taxing them less and less. Or as the CBO puts it in their inimitable understated way, “The equalizing effect of transfers and taxes on household income was smaller in 2007 than it has been in 1979.”
As he noted, the result is this chart from the CBO's studies.
And what do our current crop of GOP presidential candidates want to do to address the problem? Advocate a set of, as Hayes put it, “radical tax proposals, that would make the problem much, much worse.” Hayes compared what the GOP is proposing in the name of “tax reform” to the scenario of a politician claiming they wanted to decrease drunk driving fatalities after the government already had policies in place like “repealing open container laws, lowering the drinking age to eleven and allowing kegs to be installed in gas stations” and responding by wanting to pass a law “mandating that auto makers install a full bar in every new car sold in America.”
Hayes wrapped it up with this:
HAYES: If it sounds preposterous, it's because it is. Even this Republican primary field, with all its zealotry would be dead in the water if they made such proposals. But that's because we have a shared political and social consensus that drunk driving is a problem. And it wasn't always that way. In fact, it took a long time for society to come to this understanding. Now there's no going back.
Remarkably, despite the fact that rising inequality is the signature trend in the American economy over the last three decades, it is only now that our political culture is even discussing it. We will know Occupy Wall Street is working when even Republicans have to start talking about redistribution.
And sadly given the fact that most of our "mainstream", a.k.a. corporate media doesn't really want to have this conversation in the first place, we're going to see Chris Hayes relegated to the crack of dawn on the weekends instead of having a prime time show at MSNBC, while the screechers at Fox paint the network as "liberal" for allowing him on at all to begin with.