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posted: 8/5/2014 5:01 AM

Superrich are gaining too much power

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I used to be a news junkie. I am inclined to be an activist and look for opportunities to promote liberal and progressive programs to further the common good. However, in the last couple years I no longer listen, watch or read as much. I have become very pessimistic about the ability of ordinary citizens to improve our country's future.

The overwhelming reality of contemporary life is that the game is rigged by the superrich and large corporations. Through their unlimited campaign contributions and lobbyists they have riddled our laws with tax breaks, loopholes and subsidies that benefit the privileged few. They contribute less and less of their assets to the common good while shredding the social safety net that used to protect the poor and the shrinking middle class.

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In a democracy the citizens should be able to join together to promote programs that benefit the many instead of the few. However, with unlimited campaign contributions from the rich and powerful, and with gerrymandered districts that ensure the re-election of politicians beholden to them, we now have a plutocracy, of, by and for the few, instead of a democracy.

We have reached a level of inequality like that of the age of the robber barons and the roaring '20s. The trend is toward a level of inequality never seen before. Historically, extremes of inequality have led to the overthrow of the ruling class and the redistribution of their assets. Thomas Piketty says that to prevent that outcome, the income and wealth of the richest -- both earned and inherited -- needs to be taxed at a level that reduces the rate of growth of inequality.

Given the way our election process is skewed in favor of the elite, I see almost no chance of anything like that happening.

Kent Kirkwood

Mount Prospect

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