By Ben Cohen
Republican former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has discovered he can't afford to run a presidential campaign.
`If you're a middle class candidate, you get to raise $2,300 a person and if you're rich, you can write a $100 million personal check." Gingrich complained on Fox Noise (sorry, News) recently.
There is no doubt Gingrich is right, the election system in the U.S is farcical, with the rich having enormous advantages over the average citizen. For example the Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg, could write a personal check and easily compete with all the mainstream candidates without noticing anything amiss in his bank account.
And this is the democracy we live in, where the rich and established can buy voters and the rest don't bother. It is however, the democracy Gingrich has fought his entire life to create....
"We have to deny and outright renounce the possibility of furthered social programs", says Gingrich on his website www.newt.org. "We have to deconstruct the Welfare State over the next forty years. We have to promote prevention and competition in medical care. We have to teach the laws of money, the science of wealth building at the earliest ages and promote investment among the youthful workforce of our society."
And it is investment that Gingrich believes is the key to solving all America's problems.
"We must eliminate the capital gains tax to encourage investing", says Gingrich on his tax proposal for America. "Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan testified that the most economical rate for taxing capital gains is zero because tax-free capital gains will encourage much greater risk-taking and lead to more entrepreneurial behavior. This leads to more prosperity, a bigger economy, and better jobs."
However, upon closer inspection, Gingrich's 'entrepreneurial' America doesn't look quite as rosy as he would have everyone believe.
Despite the lofty rhetoric, the policies he has fought to enact are really a straight up welfare check for the rich, further relieving them of their responsibilities to society. The consistent reduction in the capital gains tax that we have seen over the last 30 years is the reason why we have the super rich and the super poor, crumbling infrastructure, and massive debt. And it is one of the main reasons why Gringrich cannot afford to run for president.
According to New York University in 2001, 1% of the population owned 33.4% of the wealth in America, and 20% of the population owns 84%. The other 16% is divided over the other 80% of the population. So eliminating the capital gains tax would only noticeably benefit 20% of the population, and really benefit the top 1%. This is pure Reaganite 'trickle down theory', that works on the premise that the rich may see fit to allow a little of their wealth to filter down to the poor. And if they don't invest all the money they are gaining through the tax break into ventures for the poor? Well, that's just tough luck.
The results of this economic system forced upon the general population has had predictable effects. Wages for the majority of the population have stagnated or declined in the past 30 years, while the cost of living has gone up. The top 20% of society has however, seen huge gains in wealth, with 1% seeing historically unprecedented financial prosperity.
If you are a Clinton, Black, or made a powerful speech on 9/11, you may have a chance at running for president without enormous personal wealth. Unfortunately, Gingrich is none of the above. Money is the only thing he needs to mount a successful campaign, and despite his best efforts to create a society that makes it easy for people like him to gain it, he has failed to get enough of it.
In Gingrich's survival of the fittest America, he is simply not fit enough.