US unemployment may be hovering just under 10 percent, but some lucky hedge fund managers won't feel a thing. On Countdown with Chris Olbermann, Chris Hayes, Washington editor for The Nation, discusses the news that the top twenty-five hedge fund managers collectively made $25 billion last year. The top earner, David Tepper, pocketed $4 billion by correctly bidding on banks that the government bailed out with taxpayer money. Moreover, because this income is considered capital gains, these hedge fund managers, like Tepper, will pay fewer taxes than a group of Americans who collectively made $25 billion.
As Hayes explains, the news is an indicator of an environment of extreme inequality and underscores how far we remain from a meritocratic order where people are rewarded for their good ideas. The finance sector should be taking money from savings and channeling it into investments--another failure of Wall Street. In order to really rein in the financial sector we must do three things, says Hayes: "Financial regulation that's serious, that breaks up banks and reduces the size of the sector. We need a financial transaction tax, which will tax some of this money sloshing around in these bets and will reduce the size of the sector. And we also need general tax reform, so that we tax people that make that much money a lot at a much higher rate."