MARCH 15 2016
MARCH 30 2016

A juried exhibition presented by CHARLES KRAUSE/REPORTING FINE ART  &  Millennium Arts Salon 
                                       THE 1% EXHIBIT: 


Charles and David Koch: Poster boys for greed and avarice of the 1 percent


An Open Call for fine art 
 the causes and consequences
of Income Inequality
in the United States today
THIS MUCH ANTICIPATED EXHIBIT will  present art with a point of view about one of the most significant, and politically contentious,  issues facing the United States today:   the increasing divide between the earnings and wealth of the top 1 percent of the  nation's households...and the Rest. 
Opening in Washington in September, just as the 2016 Presidential election campaign gets underway,  the Exhibit will present paintings, drawings, photographs, video art, sculpture and   installations selected  to  help all Americans understand the causes and  consequences  of income inequality and the  changes that will need to  be  made to  reduce the income and wealth gap  between the  rich and the Rest  in the United States that Sen Bernie Saunders has made the centerpiece of his Presidential campaign.
The Exhibit will also focus attention on the Doctrine of State  Capture, which explains  how the wealthiest 1 per cent of the nation's families, the corporations they control and the lobbyists they employ,  influenced Congress to  write and pass laws that favored their interests,  and budgets that starved Governmental regulatory  agencies of the resources they needed to protect the 99 percent from the vast shift in the distribution of income and wealth that has made the rich so much richer at the expense of the millions of Americans whose incomes have stagnated or fallen sharply.
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Income inequality had not been a significant issue in the United States for nearly a century until the Great Recession of 2008, when millions of blue collar and white collar workers lost their jobs, their homes and their savings while the wealthy bankers, hedge fund managers  and corporate executives whose risk-taking, fraud and poor judgment caused the Recession were bailed out by the Federal Government. They seemed to lose nothing, not even their bonuses, while unemployment and foreclosures turned the American Dream into the American Nightmare for another large chunk of what had been the Great American Middle Class.
For a time, it looked as if the Occupy Wall Street movement might force real change. But the protests ended  before economists, led by Joseph Stiglitz, a Columbia University economics professor and Nobel Laureate, were able to provide convincing evidence that our economic system had indeed become so  skewed  in favor of the already-rich that the 1% were virtually immune from the crisis they had caused.
Even worse, Stiglitz found that the 1% actually profited from the Recession; between 1970 and 2012, they  doubled their percentage of the national income and wealth from 10 per cent to 20 per cent while  the income and wealth of the 99 percent  stagnated or dropped substantially, creating the bitterness and resentment we're now  seeing among lower middle class and working class voters heads of housewholds---white  males, who were the big losers.
In his book, The Price of Inequality, and in a series of essays published by Vanity Fair, Stiglitz warns that  the disparity between the lifestyles of the rich and famous and the Rest is now so  obvious---and the 1 percent so oblivious---that a major correction is almost certain to occur.
  "The top 1 perce nt have the best houses, the best educations,
the best doctors and  the best lifestyles," Stiglitz says. 
"But there is one thing that money doesn't seem to have bought:  
an understanding that their fate 
is bound up  with how  the other 99 percent live.  
Throughout history,
this is something  the 1 percent eventually do learn.
Too late." 
CHARLES KRAUSE/REPORTING FINE ART and MILLENNIUM ARTS SALON,  organizers of THE1%EXHIBIT, expect the art to be displayed in the Exhibit will help Americans of all income levels understand the causes and consequences of sharply increased income inequality.. By  presenting the Exhibit   in an election year, they also hope to  demonstrate   the power of  Fine Art  to  help create  the political climate necessary for positive  change to occur, before it's too late.  
                                                                         It's politics, not economics...                                                             
When the Soviet Union collapsed 25 years ago, average Americans, the 99 percent, had every reason to believe the vast resources spent on defense during the Cold War would be re-directed to improve the nation's schools, reduce the cost of higher education, rebuild our highways and ports, invest in job training programs and the kind of scientific research and economically productive infrastructure that could have kept American factories competetive,  saving the millions of well-paid jobs that allowed a greater percentage of Americans to share in the nation's wealth in the decades after World War II.
Had those jobs, or jobs like them, remained in the United States, or had wealthy Americans been willing to pay their fair share in taxes to mitigate the economic and social costs of the policies they  advocated and from which they benefitted, the divide between the 1% and the 99% might have remained in check and income inequalilty might not have become an issue.

Instead, "more and more mainstream economists have lately discovered a phenomenon that their discipline too often assumes away. They have discovered power," writes Bob Kuttner in the current issue of
The American Prospect magazine.   Not electric power or solar power. The power Kuttner refers to is  political power. "And this," he continues, "fundamentally changes the nature of the debate about inequality."
In other words, there's a growing concensus among mainstream economists that there is no traditional economic explanation  for why corporate executives and Wall Street investment bankers, their lawyers and lobbyists have become fabulously wealthy in recent years while the vast majority of Americans have seen their incomes staganate or have become poorer.
What's become evident is the top 1 percent used their already-considerable political power and money to rig the system for themselves---increasing their own salaries and accumulating wealth that would otherwise have been shared with  the 99 per cent. In fact, according to the report issued by the bipartisan Presidential commission appointed to recommend ways to avoid future financial crises,  the Great Recession of 2008 would not have happened at all had Wall Street not spent billions of dollars lobbying Congress to pass legislation tjat allowed the banks to create and own the mortgage backed securities and other speculative financial instruments that were their undoing.
undermined one of the basic principles of our democratic system, that the President of  the United States and Members of  Congr  ess are elected to represent the best interests of the voters who elect  them, not the best interests of those  who pay   for their politcal campaigns 
  • made it impossible to stop the 1 percent's  slash-and-burn buy-out tactics,  short-sighted free trade agreements   and tax inversion schemes, all of which contributed to the  de-industrialization of the US economy and loss of the well-paid jobs that decimated America's once-thriving middle class
  • convinced the 99 percent that government programs and regulations are inherently wasteful and that lower taxes guarantee greater prosperity, quietly but effectively starving our government of the resources it needed  to safeguard the public interest---turning it into little more than a  rubber stamp  for the 1 percent's interest.
                                                                      Fundamentally un-American 
It's now evident that what began in 1981 as the "Reagan revolution" and seemed to be a necessary antidote to runaway inflation,   excessive union wage demands and "by the book" workplace rules that discouraged innovation  and lowered productivity, went way too far and became the cover for something else. : gtuidote   's become evident is that corporate America and the 1% have captured the Congress of the United States and with it, the key regulatory agencies and departments of the US government that determine economic policy  (The New York Fed and the Justice Department's Anti-Trust Division, the FAA and the SEC, to name just a few)  to further enrich themselves at the expense of the now much-reduced  middle class and now much-increased number and percentage of American families living in poverty.  
What the 1 percent did in the United States has a name, State Capture, given to it by the World Bank and IMF when they couldn't understand why,   after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Russia's new government enacted so many laws and made so many economic decisions that seemed irrational---if its goal was to create a market driven, capitalist economy that would benefit the most number of its citizens.
Upon reflection, however, what the IMF  and Wold Bank discovered was  that the decisions were indeed rational if viewed from the narrow perspective of a handful of wealthy oligarchs who had captured control of key decision-makers in the Kremlin. In return for buying elections, luxurious homes and fancy imported cars for them, the captured bureaucrats dutifully  proclaimed laws and regulations that  protected or furthered the oligarchs' interests, no matter what might have been best for Russia as a whole.
The corruption and collusion, documented in a book of the same name by American  anthropologist Janine Wedel, resulted in the oligarchs becoming immensely wealthy.  Until   1998,  when Russia's economy collapsed in much the same way, and for many of the same reasons, the US economy nearly collapsed in 2008. 
Although now sightly less evident in the financial sector, State Capture has been a major contributing factor to the sharp increase in income inequality in the United States  since 1980---and will be a high hurdle to cross if anything serious is proposed to reduce income inequality in the years to come.  State capture by the gun lobby also explains why Congress has refused to even consider stricter  gun control legislation while  State Capture by the Israel Lobby is the only conceivable explanation why every Republican Senator voted against the Iran nuclear agreement bbn for explains why Senate Republicans voted as a bloc against the    nuclear agreement withiIrfan.rAn. 
The telltale signs---government decisions impossible to explain if viewed through the lens of what a government or government official would be expected to do were he, she or it responding to overwhelming public sentiment and expert opinion---are hard to miss. Unlike old-fashioned corruption,  however, State Capture is difficult to remedy because it  legalizes corruption  by incorporating unfair treatment favorable to the 1 percent into the laws themselves.
Think of the airline mergers that result in even worse service at higher prices; the weapons systems that cost billions but don't work; the drinking water filled with lead poison; the mortgage backed securities packaged and sold by the banks and rated AAA by the ratings services that go belly-up. Think of the loopholes that allow 1 percenters in thhe United States to pay a lower percentage of their income in taxes than they would in almost any  country. 
Why is no one ever held accountable for the deceptive practices,  unjustifiable  tax incentives, shoddy weapons, special  interest legisalation   and outright lies  that damage the health, safety and financial security of millions of Americans, undermine faith in our government  and worsen income inequality by inflating corporate profits and setting ficticious benchmarks then used to justify outlandish executive salaries?  
Because  time and again the already-rich beneficiaries and perpetrators of even the most outrageous scandals are found to have done nothing "illegal." Due to the hard, if fundamentally unfair and un-American, work of the lawyers, accountants and other lobbyists   who are the agents of State Capture in the United States, the 1 percent has been able to double its  percentage  of the Nation's income and wealth over the past 30 years---creating the resentment  and anger that's evident among voters by perpetuating  a system which even Donald Trump says is "broken." Stiglitz provides the numbers and cogent analysis  to support his conclusion that unless income inequality klty the US economy is hat demonstrates  fent fe  ind the rest isn't just about what's right or what's fair. It's also a  negative in purely economic terms  (see The New York Times review of The Price of Inequality by Joseph Stiglitz).
In a functioning democracy, the  antidote to overweening political power on one side should be  counterveiling political power on the other.  What that means is the 99 percent will have to vote strategically---the same way the 1 percent has directed its lobbying and campaign contributions strategically--- if they want the pie to be divided fairly.  More public support for schools and highways and health care means the rich will have to pay at least as much for their slice of the pie as the 99 percent pay for theirs. What may seem obvious, however, isn't obvious   to a lot of Americans and a lot of voters.
Because if it's true that a picture is worth a thousand words, then 50 works of art by the country's best and most concerned artists are worth millions. They'll provide symbols and images to help the 99% understand what all the words mean at a critical moment...when the battle over income inequality and America's future is just getting underway.   

 Breaking point by KM Ramich (assemblage) 2015