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Political contributionsAs this amazing graph from a new report in the Journal of Economic Perspectives shows, there is a pretty straightforward reason that big money has become so unassailable in modern American politics.

Sam Pizzigatti has more at Too Much online and Maureen Dowd touches on the same sobering theme in her weekend broadside at the Clinton wealth machine.

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The basic premise behind the various conservative tax plans advancing at the General Assembly is the same old trickledown economic argument we’ve heard for decades: If we tax rich people and profitable corportations less, they’ll hire more workers and everything will be be hunky dory.

The only problem with this theory, of course, is that it’s a fantasy. For the latest confirmation of this hard truth, check out this report from the Economic Policy Institute which shows that CEO pay continues to skyrocket.

And also, check out the following remarkable graph based on the report from Too Much, an online newsletter from the good folks at Inequality.org:

CEO pay

The bottom line: You simply can’t give rich people and large corporations enough. No matter how much government slashes their taxes, inequality only gets worse.

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For those out there who don’t follow the excellent Glenn Greenwald, be sure to check out his column from earlier this week on the nation’s rapid progress on marriage equality. As Greenwald writes, it’s clearly grounds for a more general optimism regarding the prospects of societal progress in any number of areas:

“It really is a bit shocking how quickly gay marriage transformed from being a fringe, politically toxic position just a few years ago to a virtual piety that must be affirmed in decent company. Whenever I write or speak about any of the issues on which I focus, I always emphasize that a posture of defeatism – which is a form of learned impotence: a belief that meaningful change is impossible – is misguided. This demonstrates why that is true: even the most ossified biases and entrenched institutional injustices can be subverted – if the necessary passion and will are summoned and the right strategies found.”

But, as Greenwald also notes, one needs to be careful in assuming that progress for LGBT Americans automatically heralds progress for other oppressed groups: Read More

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Art Pope 3This time, it’s from the editors of the online site Too Much — a  project of the Program on Inequality and the Common Good of the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Policy Studies,

Not surprisingly, the subject is State Budget Director, Art Pope. Today, Pope is featured in the “Greed at a glance section” of the Too Much newsletter.

“Sometimes you just have to do the job yourself. Art Pope, a billionaire who owes his fortune to a discount store network his daddy built, certainly thinks so. Pope has spent over $40 million in recent years gerrymandering North Carolina, and the state this winter sports for the first time in over a century a GOP governor, a conservative state Supreme Court majority, and a GOP-dominated state legislature all at the same time. But Pope isn’t resting. He had himself appointed state budget director. Last week his budget priorities made national headlines. In North Carolina, a state with America’s fifth-highest jobless rate, lawmakers have now slashed maximum weekly unemployment benefits from $535 to $350, cut the number of benefit weeks allowed, and denied 39 percent of the state’s 438,000 jobless special federal aid . . .