Ecuador Taxing Its Rich to Pay for Earthquake Relief and Reconstruction
by Stephen Lendman
Last Saturday’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake followed by hundreds of aftershocks left over 600 dead, more than 12,000 injured, scores still missing, 25,000 displaced, and many thousands vulnerable to serious diseases.
The nation continues reeling from its worst disaster in over half a century – at a time its economy is struggling from low oil prices.
President Rafeal Correa declared a state of emergency in affected areas. Reconstruction will cost tens of billions of dollars, Correa saying:
“Let’s not kid ourselves. It will be a long struggle (to rebuild). Reconstruction (will take) years, (requiring) billions (of dollars) in investment.”
Thousands of security personnel were mobilized straightaway to begin providing disaster relief. Other Latin American countries sent hundreds of rescue workers.
Around $600 million was immediately accessed from the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, and other international sources.
Ecuador’s Finance Minister said $300 million in emergency funds are available internally. Additional contingent financing will help begin to pay for relief and reconstruction.
A one-time tax on wealthy Ecuadorians was imposed. Individuals with assets over $1 million will be assessed 0.9% of their net worth. Lower earners will pay a day’s salary for every $1,000 of monthly income up to $5,000.
Value added taxes will be increased from 12 to 14% for a year. Unspecified state assets will be sold to raise needed revenues. Heroic efforts are needed to help Ecuador deal with catastrophic conditions.
Taxing obscene wealth is an idea whose time has come in America. Class warfare created the greatest wealth disparity in the nation’s history, super-rich elites benefitting at the expense of most others.
Neoliberal force-fed austerity is an anti-populist scam. Vital changes needed include:
- progressive taxation replacing today’s loophole-ridden inequitable system;
- removing the payroll tax ceiling, taxing all earned income at the same rate;
- mandating a living wage nationwide along with a minimum income for the nation’s indigent; and
- instituting a Tobin Tax to make Wall Street and rich investors pay their fair share.
A one-half of 1% tax could raise hundreds of billions of dollars annually. A one-tenth of 1% tax on annual derivatives trading could raise hundreds of billions more.
Added revenues if used productively would stimulate economic growth, create jobs, cut the deficit, and raise Main Street living standards.
Throughout the 20th century until the 1980s, every generation was better off financially than earlier ones. No longer, workers victimized by institutional inequality – from industrial and other high-paying jobs offshored to low-wage countries, stagnant wages, weakened or lost benefits, bipartisan government serving privileged interests exclusively, notably since the Clinton years, exacerbated under Bush II and Obama, his successor sure to worsen conditions.
The state of today’s America is deplorable, poverty its new growth industry, unemployment and underemployment at Great Depression levels, inequality institutionalized.
Making the nation’s rich pay their fair share along with other progressive measures are ideas whose time has come.
The alternative is entirely thirdworldizing America, banana republicanizing it more than already, dystopian hell by any standard.
A race to the bottom assures it for growing millions, the nation fit to live in for its privileged class alone.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
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