Richest Americans Earning 4X Money, Paying Half of Taxes - Alyona Minkovski

Uploaded by MidweekPolitics on 22.04.2011

Joining us is Alyona Minkovski, host of RT's "The Alyona Show". In the last 12 years, the
income for the richest 400 Americans has quadrupled, their tax rate has nearly been cut in half,
but you wouldn't know that from turning on CNN, you wouldn't know it from turning on
MSNBC, certainly not from turning on Fox News. Alyona, what do you think is behind the coverage
we're seeing about this the rich pay too much taxes, as it often is? Is it led by those
who are funding a lot of these big media outlets, or is it actually that the big media outlets
themselves are part of that list that has an interest in paying as few taxes-- tax dollars
as possible?
Alyona Minkovski: Well, I think, of course, it's all of that combined. You know, you and
I have often talked about what happens when you have a corporate media structure, obviously
that media then isn't going to report on the corporate state that this entire country has
become. Obviously MSNBC isn't going to go on and start reporting about the fact that
GE paid no taxes last year but they also reported 77% in profits, you know, I think that you
see obviously some conflicts of interest there.
But you know, one other thing that I think it is is that the media just tends to focus
on the political centers. They focus on Washington, D.C., they focus on New York, and they focus
on what the politicians are talking about, not what's going on anywhere else and, you
know, all over America, those people are just kind of on the peripheries. And so whatever
the politicians say, well, politicians are going to want to draw the least bit of attention
possible to the fact now that we have the wealthiest Americans whose wealth has quadrupled,
like you said, but that are paying half of that, or the fact that the largest corporations
in this country are paying no taxes, because the politicians are also, you know, in the
pockets of these corporations. And so if the media just follows everything they say like
a lapdog, every day just dissecting, you know, whatever statement a politician may have made
that day and then moving on and forgetting about it, you're never really going to get
to the bottom of a story.
David: Well, and it's interesting, because there's so many distractions. So for example,
like for... in Wisconsin, one of the things that was going on was that those who were--
or, are at the top of the income brackets are basically pitting middle- to lower-class
Americans who aren't in unions against middle- to lower-class Americans who are in unions,
and that's creating a conflict that is both... I don't see it as productive, but it's also
a distraction from the fact that the rich are paying fewer and fewer taxes. So I think
it's been incredibly effective to just talk about other things altogether.
Minkovski: Of course it's a distraction, and that's what happens when you have, you know,
a world and a media that is so focused on partisan politics and they want to act like
everything is black and white, it's right and left, and there are only two options in
this world. And if that's what you do, you know, that's what Fox News I think also does
very well is whip people up into this frenzy, then you constantly think that your neighbor,
you know, with whom you might actually have a whole lot more in common than you think,
maybe you guys are of a different religion, but you're probably making about the same
amount of money, you're probably paying about the same amount of taxes, and you're still
being affected by all the laws that are passed in this country, by the wars that we're fighting.
That's where your tax dollars are going to, and yet the corporations aren't paying them.
But as long as you just try to pinpoint little stories that don't focus on the big picture,
like I was saying, again, then it gets people whipped up into a frenzy, then they think
that they're enemies, and they can't see what they have in common. They can't see that our
entire tax system needs reform and is broken and that, you know, democracy, quite frankly,
I think is dying when the middle class, right, the middle class is what this country is based
on so much, when that class is disappearing and it's dying and Americans don't even know
it because the media don't, well, I guess it's not sexy enough, right? You can't necessarily
visualize it. But if you can't wake up to that, then I think this country's in trouble.
David: To put some numbers to this, because we haven't actually talked about them, in
1995, the richest 400 Americans paid about 30% of their income in federal taxes; in '07,
12 years later, the richest 400 Americans paid about 16%, so it literally is almost
half the tax rate. You know, something I ask myself is sometimes media outlets have this
tendency to take an issue and to put both extremes kind of up for debate and say here's
one side, here's the other side, and the reality is with many issues, there's no, necessarily,
need to do that. In other words, there was this study about... a study that ended up
being a fraud about is the MMR vaccine connected to autism? And many media outlets went around
saying well, on one side, here's Andrew Wakefield who says it is connected, and on the other
side, there's the fact that there's absolutely no evidence. There's no reason always to say
both sides, all opinions, are equally valid. I know it doesn't sound... it doesn't sound
pretty, but I think sometimes that's the case. Is this one of those issues where the media
says well, we have to give both extremes, the rich pay too much, the rich don't pay
enough, where really we need to be talking about having a different discussion altogether
Minkovski: Well, I think obviously yes, the media is always guilty, because what makes
good TV is if you put two sides that are on the extremes and you pit them against each
other, but I don't think that this is one of those cases. Like I was saying at first,
too, I really think that this is one of the cases where the media only focuses on what's
going on within Washington, within New York, within these power circles. And everything
that's going on in the outside, that doesn't even get touched, because there really is
no extreme, I don't think you can say, when it comes to just average Americans looking
at the fact that corporations and the wealthiest aren't paying their fair share of taxes. There's
nothing extreme about that, it's completely normal. We don't see media outlets going to,
you know, North Carolina or to some small state... or, small city in Ohio and talking
to average Americans on the street. They're only going to focus on what the politicians
have to say.
But it's interesting, because we're also covering this topic on our program tonight, and there's
a great video of Paul Ryan holding a town hall with his own constituents, and Paul Ryan
I think you could say in many ways has really been embraced as this new darling here in
Washington. A lot of people have called his deficit reduction plan something that's really
courageous. He's the only one that can take it on. But if you go back to that video and
you watch what his constituents are saying to him, they don't understand, they don't
like the fact that, you know, taxing the wealthy and raising their taxes is completely off
the table, and they even started booing him. But you're never going to see that on a cable
David: That's right. And you know, the easiest way to get Ohio or North Carolina on TV is
to either have a car chase or to have a house fire, it seems. That's the way that you get
those places on TV, which is a whole other can of worms altogether. Alyona Minkovski,
RT's "The Alyona Show", we'll be watching tonight. Thanks so much for joining us again
Minkovski: Thanks, David. Thanks for having me on.
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