How’s that Reagan Revolution working out for you?
The richest 1 percent of Americans now take home almost 24 percent of income, up from almost 9 percent in 1976. As Timothy Noah of Slate noted in an excellent series on inequality, the United States now arguably has a more unequal distribution of wealth than traditional banana republics like Nicaragua, Venezuela and Guyana.
C.E.O.’s of the largest American companies earned an average of 42 times as much as the average worker in 1980, but 531 times as much in 2001. Perhaps the most astounding statistic is this: From 1980 to 2005, more than four-fifths of the total increase in American incomes went to the richest 1 percent.
Bush called that one percent the “have-mores” and considered them the base of the Republican Party.
The Al Smith dinner, hosted by Archbishop Edward Egan, is a traditional forum for presidential candidates, although in past years, the abortion issue has kept some candidates away.
The event is named for the former New York governor who was the first Roman Catholic ever to be nominated for president.
The presidential candidates came well-armed with jokes, often poking fun at themselves.
Bush gazed around the diamond-studded $800-a-plate crowd and commented on the wealth on display.
“This is an impressive crowd – the haves and the have-mores,” quipped the GOP standard-bearer. “Some people call you the elites; I call you my base.”
Sure, it was a joke, but look at the results.