Economy Lee Camp Original

Lee Camp: It’s Time for Major Wealth Redistribution — Yes, I Mean It.

No need to be all apologetic about it, either, since we would just be reclaiming the trillions taken by the billionaires.

By Lee Camp / Original to ScheerPost

It’s time for wealth redistribution. There, I said it. 

I know it’s the third rail of politics, but I’m not running for a damn thing, which makes me free to speak the truth. (Well, I am running for president of my neighborhood elementary school’s PTA, but I’m pretty sure I’ll win easily since my campaign slogan is “Extend the school day to 20 hours because we don’t want to deal with those little monsters. You take ‘em!” . . . Well, I’ll win as long as they don’t find out I don’t have a child.)

Anyway, we desperately need wealth redistribution. And before anyone starts yelling something about Joseph Stalin, here’s the part that’s going to blow your mind — in the United States we’ve already had wealth redistribution for decades.

Fifty trillion dollars has been redistributed from the poorest Americans to the top one percent over the past several decades. That’s right, a new study shows the richest people in the world have stolen trillions from average Americans. To put this in easier to access terms — you know how mad you get when someone takes the last donut? Well, imagine that multiplied by 50 trillion. (Quick reminder: If you make $40,000 a year, it would take you 1.25 Billion years to make $50 trillion.) 

The new study reveals, “…that the cumulative tab for our four-decade-long experiment in radical inequality has grown to over $47 trillion from 1975 through 2018. At a recent pace of about $2.5 trillion a year, that number we estimate crossed the $50 trillion mark by early 2020.”

And to be clear, this money has been stolen from nearly every American. Had income distribution and buying power remained the same as it was from the end of World War II to 1975, ” . . . the aggregate annual income of Americans earning below the 90th percentile would have been $2.5 trillion higher in the year 2018 alone. That is … enough to pay every single working American in the bottom nine deciles an additional $1,144 a month. Every month. Every single year.”

The richest people in America are pilfering over $1,100 from you personally and everyone you know every single month of every single year. Just imagine what each living soul in America could do with an extra $13,700 per year — how many people that would feed, how much less stressful their lives would be, how many fewer foreclosures there would be, and how many more people would get the healthcare they need. Yet every time the most modest tax increases are proposed on the richest Americans, or every time someone so much as mumbles about putting in a public jungle gym or putting in filters to take the metal chunks out of the water or fixing the holes in our bridges that are bigger than the ones in Maria Bartiromo’s head — every time someone brings up these common sense solutions, the elites of our society (who own the media outlets and the levers of the state and the law enforcement and the courts) start screaming from their wine-soaked ski resort orgy balconies, “That’s wealth redistribution! That’s class war!”

Meanwhile, most so-called “progressives” tip-toe around this subject, saying things like, “Well, we just want to slightly increase the taxes on the giant swimming pools filled with money of the wealthiest people. It would only impact people with billions of dollars, which is only a few individuals. We’re sorry. We’re so sorry to ask for this, Mr. Boss Man. Please forgive us.” 

Enough of the pussy-footing. It’s time to demand true, full-on wealth redistribution. It’s time to say to the billionaires, “We’re taking your shit, and we’re giving it back to the society you stole it from. We’re taking your cars and your marble statues of your own ass and your boats that park inside your other boats and your emerald bathtubs filled with naked man servants and your inbred cross eyed ugly-ass dogs! . . . But you can keep your children. We don’t want those sociopaths in training. But other than that, we’re taking your stuff because this level of inequality is what most rational economists call ‘fucking nuts’.”

I will however give one caveat to make this go smoother. We only take back everything over $10 million. It’s estimated that there are about 1.4 million American households who have over $10 million. So that means what I’m proposing would impact less than one-half of one percent of Americans. The average American has never even met someone with over $10 million unless they shook Jim Carrey’s hand one time on a sidewalk in New York. 

So we — the 99 percent — would take everything over $10 million from the people who have over $10 million. And we would give it out with the bottom 50 percent getting the vast majority of it. This means 99.5 percent of Americans would benefit from this redistribution of wealth. So, before you argue against this idea — Remember: you benefit. You would receive money. Because I promise there is no one with over $10 million reading this column right now, unless one banker accidentally clicked on this because it was next to the Wall Street Journal in his Twitter feed.

Do you need more numbers to hammer home the point? The billionaires in this country have increased their wealth by over $1.3 Trillion, an increase of 44 percent, just since the beginning of the pandemic.

One out of every three people in America have had trouble paying their bills during this pandemic. 

Nearly 15 million people have lost their healthcare coverage just since the beginning of this pandemic.

Demonstrators gathered at Union Square in New York City Saturday, February 20, 2021 to stand in solidarity with Amazon workers in Alabama voting to become the company’s first union in the United States. Demonstrators marched to Jeff Bezos’ luxury penthouse at 212 Fifth Avenue following speeches. Bezos’ personal wealth is estimated at nearl $200 billion. (Photo by Karla Ann Cote/NurPhoto via AP)

And if you are the one person with over $10 million reading this, don’t give me that horse shit about, “I worked for that money. I earned that money.” No, no, no, no, you did not earn over $10 million. I know you didn’t because that’s impossible. It’s madness. It’s Gary Busey inside Charlie Sheen inside Ted Nugent. Taking the laws of physics into account, there is no way you worked a thousand times harder than a janitor or a sanitation worker or a nurse or a busboy or a fluffer or a fluffer’s second assistant fluffer intern. It’s physically impossible that you worked a thousand times harder than every “essential worker.” (Yes, fluffers are essential.)

What you did was merely take advantage of a system that is set up to exploit the vast majority of the society while most people don’t even realize what happened. That’s what you did because you’re a sociopath. Indeed, most of the Americans with over $10 million are sociopaths. They would kick a puppy down a flight of stairs into the teeth of a wool thresher if it meant they could make an extra $1,000. But I will acknowledge that not all of them are sociopaths. Some of them are relatively okay people working inside a breathtakingly corrupt system. So for the ones who are sociopaths, why should we feel bad for taking their wealth — over $10 million — and redistributing it? (They’re sociopaths after all. Lest we forget: they kick puppies.)

And then for the other ones, who are not sociopaths but still have over $10 million, they’re not going suffer because at the end of the day, they still have ten million goddamn dollars! It’s not like they’d suddenly be scraping by, clothing their children with cardboard boxes painted to look like shirts and bow ties.

So the next time someone says to you, “You can’t raise the taxes on the top 1% because that’s class war. It’s redistribution of wealth,” don’t respond the way most squishy liberals respond — “Ummm, ahhh, errr, no, uhhhh, I’m sorry.” Instead respond, “You’re damn right it is! I want redistribution of wealth. I want a nonviolent class war — because it has been done to the rest of us for the past 50 years at least. We have been exploited and abused, beaten down and defeated, kicked and slapped and scratched and drained and sucked dry and extracted and even burgled!” (Oh man, do I hate being burgled.)

Now is our time to fight back against this terrible machine that has allowed this unbelievable level of exploitation. Screw this system that allows some people to have enough money to end world hunger (literally Jeff Bezos could end world hunger many times over) and yet never do it, while other individuals sleep on a bench hoping no one steals their one box of cereal in the night. To put my conclusion into more sophisticated academic language — Fuck that.

This is an abusive relationship, and it’s time to get out.

Lee Camp
Lee Camp

Lee Camp is the host of the hit comedy news show “Redacted Tonight.” His new book “Bullet Points and Punch Lines” is available at LeeCampBook.com and his stand-up comedy special can be streamed for free at LeeCampAmerican.com.

42 comments

  1. Once again brother Lee you hit the nail on the head! No such thing as a self made man another lie the capitalist agenda spreads, no it is off the backs of the poor and exploited! If that is a self made man I want no part of it!

    As the great Brazilian Bishop Dom Camera Helder said: “If I feed the poor they call me a saint, if I ask why they are poor they call me a communist.” The injustice must be named and then addressed with concrete action! Peace.

    1. “We only take back everything over $10 million. It’s estimated that there are about 1.4 million American households who have over $10 million.”
      Over $10 million in what, cash, or all assets? I doubt anywhere near 1.4 million American households have that much cash. And if it’s not cash, then how are we going to “get it”, sell their mansions? To whom?

      I like what you’re saying here (and the zeal). But I’m more interested in redistributing ownership of productive assets, say along the lines of employee owned companies. Closer to the German economic system, for example.
      🙂

    2. Your little rant does not fix anything. The issue is not capitalism. Capitalism, by definition, is the mutually agreed upon exchange of services and products for value (money). The real issue concerns all those who demand money from the government and it is not just businesses. Government elites along with corporate elites conspire to make each other wealthy using the average taxpayer as the ATM machine for grants, subsidies and special legislation. When mismanaged companies fail (GM) the taxpayer is then expected to bail them out. Capitalism is where the consumer decides what businesses live or die. The US subsidizes more industries than Canada. Your corner store is a small version of capitalism at work. Personally, I hate that large public corporations overcompensate their executive-level regardless of the companies fiscal health resulting in their skimming shareholder value. Stop greasing business palms, trim all 3 levels of bloated gov’t bureaucracies and remember that every time you purchase something you are saying YES, I support you & this service. Stop electing celebrities & the wealthy! Make those elected accountable for their actions and limit their terms & compensation. You have allowed them to get elected & make themselves rich by selling favours & access to your markets. Look at the bank accounts of those being elected and their accounts after they leave. Clintons are a perfect example. We have the same issue here. The Prime Minister meets with Chinese business people and a million dollars is deposited into his family foundation.

      1. “Capitalism, by definition, is the mutually agreed upon exchange of services and products for value (money).”

        sure, that’s what’s out there.

    3. Well, looking at 2000-14 numbers (15 years), the federal government took out 38,562 billion in fiat direct loans. There was a deficit (official borrowing) of 8,027.5 billion, so that means 30,534.5 billion was off-budget. If you consider overseas military expenditures and bailouts, that leaves 28,134.5 billion that cannot even be rationalized. The average of that value per federal filer Ii.e., per average taxpayer being 138,679,561 on average per year…) is 13,524.94 dollars a year for 15 years . Of course, when you are examining federal finance, if you consider face value devaluation for such non-rationalizable loans, deficit spending, and you consider all interest (and not the cute way of paying off interest with interest making it look much smaller), on balance nearly every value is negated–after paying for it. I put it this way. If you bought a car and after paying for it at the dealership the dealer takes out of your bank account what you paid for the car, on balance you got nothing for you money to the dealer. That’s how the interest-fiat system works. The worst part of this system is that it overall can be rationally argued that there are no net savings. What this means is that the bankers have engineered a system in which they place themselves as having the power to determine nearly all economic decisions at the same time they have a stake in those decisions. The Federal Reserve system was adopted because of its said impartiality, which now, more and more, can be mathematically determined to be a true fallacy.

      1. Yes, you’re right, Lee, but what’s the solution? How would “we the people” ever begin to do what you are suggesting? The voting process, obviously, is fraudulent. The media is owned by those you suggest we take money from, as is oil, medical, etc.

    4. Here’s the catch: Liberals call for a redistribution from rich to middle class, business owners to the currently employed. With over 10 million Americans left jobless, many with $0 incomes/benefits, liberals remain solid capitalists who are oblivious to our “surplus population” (those not currently of use to employers).

  2. BRAVO! TRIPLE BRAVO! How about this?”Ratio of CVS’s CEO Merlo’s annual compensation to median employee for 2019 is 790-TO-1. “Merlo’s total compensation was $36.5 million for 2019. (Reuters.com) And this man and other CEOs (e.g. Walmart, MacDonalds) are doing arm twisting to keep their own boards from pushing to include sick leave pay for their workers. A basic aspect of worker pay common in European countries.

  3. Preaching to the choir here I know, but yes this is class warfare, and they started it! I personally would love to see a disheveled Jeff Bezos sleeping on the sidewalks of Seattle, begging for spare change. If I was feeling especially magnanimous I might spare him a dime, but I’d make him fo a little bojangles dance first.

    The real question is how do we enact real and lasting change. Yes we need to tax the bejesus out of these arseholes, but that’s not the whole story.

    The basic DNA of our society is so sick that if we don’t radically change it, we will be lucky if we have 25 years. Climate catastrophe id here and is a direct result of our insane economic sytem, and world view. We need massive wealth distribution, and an end to identity politics. No more blaming and shaming of other victims, it is the system that is at fault.

    How can anyone claim to own land. Can we also own the air, the water, the animals that roam on “our” land? Did you work with your hands to make that land that you claim to own.

    I don’t believe most people realize just how insane our system is.

  4. Lee Camp always a true champion for USA. Bravo! I wish everyone listen to truth! Maybe it’s that fear of awful truth that we are all property of crooks. But we can free our minds from crooks in power.

  5. Right you are, Lee and well said. Plus and it’s a big plus-you gave me a couple of good belly laughs along with my bump in political awareness. Keep ’em coming.

  6. I don’t know how much reading time you have, but if you do, please read Thorstein Veblen’s The Theory of the Leisure Class, and Dr Gene Sharp’s From Dictatorship to Democracy.

    Also, those of us who are sleeping on park benches are more worried about someone stealing our boots (off our feet) than stealing a box of cereal.

  7. Great riff Lee, but it doesn’t go nearly far enough!
    Every unit of currency, dollar, Euro, Remnimbi, ruble, etc. represents to some extent the CO2 emitted into the atmosphere. The more money you have, the greater your responsibility for the climate disasters that are happening and are yet to come.
    The wealthy have quite factually stolen the future and put it into their pockets. It is a Ponzi scheme to end all Ponzi schemes.
    Most poor suckers have been brainwashed into believing that they too can be rich assholes, but they are going to be left holding onto nothing.
    When the proverbial SH*T hits the fan, the poor of this earth will be left to cannibalize each other or starve, while the wealthy try to hold on to what they have by any and all means necessary.

  8. Of course. NOBODY can possible use in a reasonable lifetime ten million dollars, and so many need more just to manage to survive. Let us share it-it has been done in the past, even after wars. let’s do it!
    However, our wonderful “Reps”, “elected” in our marvelous democratic system, seem not willing to change the system and tax the rich, since they are the richn ,ot “representative” of us at all!!

  9. Our economy is parasitic, on people and the planet: its’s not a party that can last forever. American capitalism, and neoliberalism at large, is hollowing out society and anything it finds of value. What happens when you eliminate a whole consumer class through automation and AI? What happens when the tipping points of climate change are reached, and there are floods, famines and fires of biblical proportions?

    Even if wealth was redistributed, it’s how we treat the Earth and other people that is the problem: the middle classes in the US contribute to a throw-away society, too, and are quite willing to buy the products of sweatshop labor.

    Nature has a way to achieve its own redistribution when exploited: it’s called extinction.

  10. That is right Lee Camp.
    We need a Socialist /Environment First System.
    Capitalism must end.

  11. OH, and by the way Mr. Lee Camp, raising the minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour isn’t going to lift this nation out of its downward spiral—it might even accelerate its degeneration. What is needed, which Richard Wolff noted (which is perhaps one of the few things in economics we agree upon), involves spending upon national products such as energy, environment, etc. FDR’s New Deal, especially it’s CCC, was actually benefit to the future: us today. 1st of all, we need to STOP spending an average of 2 trillion a day off-budget (using 2000-14 numbers). 2nd. we need to shift those resources away from buying power by buying persons TO empowering people. Payment from participation could be used towards education. Free education? Not as it is? It would just give more power to the government, which has ruined education. OH… Thanks for pointing out these kinda facts Mr. Lee Camp. (~Thomas Paine Revisitied)

  12. Thanks Lee. As always your spot on. I like following you. Your humor keeps you sane and me too. Keep Fighting!

  13. This is a great idea, i am all in. But, how is this going to happen? If you think our
    congress people will do it, They wont. They are working on how they can get on
    the gravy train and get their 10 mill.
    It would only happen with a revolution that puts a socialist system in place.
    I will not live to see that but I wish all of you good luck.

    1. It isn’t going to happen.

      Any attempt to pressure congress will fail. Any policy that might push the US even slightly in that direction will spark mass outrage among conservatives and Trumpites and fail in congress or the courts.

      Any attempt to start a revolution will be resisted by the most powerful military and surveillance system in the world. Even if you somehow won, which is highly unlikely, you wouldn’t have stability unless you outright murdered millions of deeply paranoid and heavily armed right wingers.

      All we can really do at this point is try to survive as it collapses.

  14. A great way to start taking back what’s been stolen is to stop being a willing target by participating in the broken financial system. You know, that system where the central bank has built in the 2% mechanism of loss of value of those dollars for which you exchanged your time and labor. The one that makes simply saving money a losing proposition, so people are essentially forced into taking additional risk through investing. The one where more money can be printed at will, devaluing every dollar you have, and the ones you are still trying to earn.

    The alternative is out there already in Bitcoin. Educate and free yourself.

  15. Hey, Lee. Have you ever wondered why those who toil all day long maybe doing engineering, teaching, construction, driving Uber, and working in a restaurant pay the full tax rate for their salary? But many in the financial and real estate sectors can make money while they sleep, and pay a special lower tax rate. And why are those who are living off a family’s inheritance not paying even more tax than someone who works 9-5? At least, why isn’t active and passive income taxed the same rate?

    And what about the Social Security tax shield for the over 140K+ crowd. They have a tax free card! There is no 7% deduction as taken from a worker’s paycheck and the matching 7% that the employer must chip in. Look at that massive tax break a CEO and its company get! Perhaps CEO pays, bonuses, and stock options wouldn’t be so breathtaking if there was no cap on the withholding tax. And maybe the SS tax could be lower for everyone and there would be more for Social Security and Medicare safety nets.

    Also why aren’t all capital gains at least taxed once before they go into an estate or trust? Why can some individuals deduct more than 30% of their income?

    We all know that Trump, the Clintons, Romney have shell corporations that hide owners and stashes of revenue. If these shell corps are in Delaware, Ireland, or Cayman Islands, they may have special low rates for the anonymous owners and funders. The Panama Papers show this scheme, and Congress has not come near dealing with it.

    So why do we have such inequality in providing for the common good? Perhaps our leaders, DC representatives, and their benefactors are creating tilted tax laws that benefit disproportionately the wealthy class in society.

  16. Nobody has mentioned advertising which creates a default value system designed by corporations, displayed on the walls and designed to scare you into believing you need to buy the best products from the private sector. J. K. Galbraith illustrates how people drive through a wasteland filled with rubbish and billboards, past polluted rivers while driving their comfortable cars, because the idolatrous system creates a diversion of wants into the private sector and an aversion to the public sector where normally we should not be driven away from spending on these benefits, many intangible and not all of them “things”. Recognise this and tax advertising.
    Also recognise that the rich persuade us to consent to the system in place, because, like casino operators, they tell us we have to be in it to win it. If you don’t approve their methods of becoming rich, you can never get rich yourself, and because they are nominally successful, everybody is expected to want to get rich and model their lives on the rich. Why would you do that? The rich think they can buy people like commodities. But as in a lottery, most people do not win it and are out of pocket. We should put a stop to the gambling culture. Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s. Perhaps we have to find something other than cash to get rid of Caesar’s domination, but that’s this implication of Jesus’ instruction to us.

  17. Imagine there’s no government —
    The 10% call themselves investors.
    They need to VOLUNTARILY invest 10% of their net worth in the 90%.
    We need a tech company like GoFundMe with an account for EVERY citizen. And every person is a store of value worthy of investment.
    And if they don’t volunteer to invest, then we eat them 😉

  18. Editor, is there something about my comment you feel needs moderation ? I don’t see it published yet. Please publish my comment, thank you.

    1. There are sometimes delays in approving comments, based on staffing. We still plan to move to a different commenting system ASAP.

  19. Dear Editor,
    I am pretty amazed that you are so willing to see the views of people whose Weltanshauung may diverge from your own, denied access to commenting upon comments on your site, as it just reinforces the feedback loop which is creating all the animosity between parts of the intellectual polity which cannot comprehend each other. So what if some people may experience one thing and others don’t? You should reflect on the Chinese proverb: when the finger points to the moon, the idiot looks at the finger.

  20. Yes indeed, no more pussy-footing around or going hat in hand to ask the Wealthy to please do their share. Raise the top marginal tax rate back to 70%. Raise the capital gains tax rate or even better start taxing capital gains as regular income. Raise the estate tax rates on large estates to limit the transfer of Wealth from one generation to the next. The working class have been losing the class war for 40 years and it is time to redistribute the gains the Wealthy have accumulated back into the pockets of those who made the Wealth of the nation in the first place.

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