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Occupy movement adds up

A frequently quoted statistic by those trying to justify the huge disparity in U.S. wealth is that the top 10 percent pays 70 percent of federal income taxes. This is a classic example of a true but meaningless statistic because this situation can happen with all sorts of income and tax rate scenarios. These include some with huge income inequities – and also with flat tax rates currently popular with Republican presidential candidates.

Some really meaningful statistics are: (1) The top income tax bracket rate, 1936 through 1980, was at least 70 percent (90 percent under Republican President Dwight Eisenhower), but now is only 35 percent; (2) chief executive officers made 40 times the average wage of their workers in 1980, compared to 400 times today; (3) after-tax income growth, 1979 to 2007, was 275 percent for the top 1 percent, 65 percent for the next 19 percent, 40 percent for the middle 60 percent, and 18 percent for the bottom 20 percent.

Shockingly, in 2007 the top 1 percent owned 42 percent of the country’s financial wealth (total net worth minus value of one’s home), compared with only 7 percent for the bottom 80 percent.

Occupy Wall Street is indeed right on!

Norm Luther

Underwood, Wash.


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Editorial: Washington state lawmakers scramble to keep public in the dark

State lawmakers want to create a legislative loophole in Washington’s Public Records Act. While it’s nice to see Democrats and Republicans working together for once, it’s just too bad that their agreement is that the public is the enemy. As The Spokesman-Review’s Olympia reporter Jim Camden explained Feb. 22, lawmakers could vote on a bill today responding to a court order that the people of Washington are entitled to review legislative records.