While millions of Americans in the last quarter-century debated about who shot J.R. and scurried for news about who would be Jennifer Lopez's next lover, Congress quietly passed tax laws that shift the tax burden from the 28,000 Americans in households with incomes of $8 million per year or more. Over time, the impact of tax relief for the super rich and more taxes for everyone else is profound. The rich can save and invest more and more, increasing their incomes and political power over time through the magic of compound interest, while everyone else has less of their money to spend or save and millions of people are mired in debt. While wage earners have every dollar of income reported to the government, the super rich control what the IRS knows about their incomes. But the rich are rarely audited anymore. Congress also gives them many perfectly legal devices to defer reporting income for years or decades. That means that the real incomes of the super rich are much larger than the IRS data show and their tax burden is even lighter.
All of this is having a devastating impact on America, which the preamble to our Constitution says was created to "promote the general welfare." Until Americans decide to take back their democracy and become actively engaged in politics, the super rich will continue to rig the tax system for their benefit only.