Who Hijacked Our Country

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Wealth Gap: A Serious Threat to the Country

This isn’t exactly a news flash.  Liberals and some economists have been warning us about this for years.  But somehow it has more Gravitas coming from this article in the Christian Science Monitor.

President Obama has been stressing this issue a lot lately, but I think he’s going about it the wrong way.  He puts too much emphasis on “fairness;” the rich “paying their fair share.”  Unfortunately I don’t think the concept of “fair” resonates with the public.  Most people are motivated by “what’s in it for ME?”  “How does this affect ME?”

And America’s lopsided wealth distribution is most definitely a ME issue.  This neo-feudal wealth gap is NOT working.  And this is what President Obama and other politicians need to be stressing.  Forget “fair.”  Communicate with the voters where they live:  their wallets.

This also has nothing to do with hating or resenting “the rich.”  Ultimately this huge wealth gap will derail everybody, including the one-percenters.

A World Bank economist said:

“The view that income inequality harms growth — or that improved equality can help sustain growth — has become more widely held in recent years.”

That’s putting it mildly.

Nick Hanauer, founder of the venture capital firm Second Avenue Partners — and co-author of “Gardens of Democracy” — said:

“If you have a society where the people at the very tippy top accumulate all of the resources, you choke the economy to death.  Steve Jobs didn't launch the iPhone in Bangladesh or the Congo. The iPhone is nothing without millions of people who can afford to buy it.”

Nigel Gault, chief US economist with IHS Global Insight, said that if the share of earnings that goes to pay for labor — rather than corporate profits — had held steady in the last few years, overall economic activity “would be a bit higher than it is now.”

He also said when the playing field is too tilted and un-level, people lose faith in the old adage about hard work paying off.  This lopsided playing field is also cutting off access to education for millions of people.

(And unlike John Galt, Nigel Gault actually exists.)

Bruce Judson of the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute said the U.S. is on a path of economic polarization which — based on patterns throughout history — could lead America to dissolution and revolution.

British scholar Richard Wilkinson pointed out the strong correlation — in other advanced countries — between income inequality and higher rates of illness, a general distrust and hostility, and a higher prison population.

The list goes on and on.  This problem needs to be dealt with.


Anonymous Jolly Roger said...

No society survives forever with the kind of inequality this one has. This is the sort of thing that produces people like Lenin, Mao, and Robespierre.

February 15, 2012 at 2:04 PM  
Blogger Jerry Critter said...

No Society last forever, period. Inequality just speeds things up.

February 15, 2012 at 2:18 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

You're right about Obama needing to use examples that are more tangible and that will hit home for more voters. It IS all about our wallets, and if he hammers on this at a time when the GOP is doing idiot things like pushing Rick Santorum as a viable presidential candidate, Democrats can make lots of hay. Agreed, the inequality can be explained a lot better without the use of the word "fairness" and probably better with things like "this is how the inequality works to screw you over".

Santorum is all about the "moral values" stuff and not the issue that matters the most to most Americans (the economy). If they are dumb enough to run him instead of Romney, then even if our economy is still not doing well the message "It's the economy, stupid" will still ring true... because the GOP doesn't seem to be talking about the economy any more, they're too busy talking about abortion and homosexuality.

February 15, 2012 at 5:12 PM  
Blogger Mr. Charleston said...

I read an article the other day that said the wealth gap in our country today is worse than ancient Rome.

God grief! this type the wordy thing is damned near impossible.

February 15, 2012 at 6:33 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

As Molly Ivins liked to remind, "We all do better when we all do better."

"Bruce Judson of the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute said the U.S. is on a path of economic polarization which — based on patterns throughout history — could lead America to dissolution and revolution."

There's a ray of light piercing the darkness if there ever was one. A bunch of 1 percenters are probably too blinded by greed, selfishness and self-satisfied complacency to get it. There's many a dead Latin American dictator and oligarch who suffered that same blindness, and it proved fatal — to them. Three centuries of bloody revolts and revolutions south of the border should make plain the folly of lapsing into the old Latin American pattern. The lesson being that it always ends badly for the wealthy, well-entrenched few.

February 15, 2012 at 9:03 PM  
Blogger Jack Jodell said...

Thank you for this excellent post. Any lamebrain can tell you that giving firther tax breaks to the rich will NOT create jobs nor will it improve everyone else's financial well-being. Finally, after millions have hit the street in protest, the media and Washington are just starting to discuss the topic of wealth disparity. We can only hope - and we must all press - for it to lead to significant change for the better!

February 16, 2012 at 8:46 AM  
Blogger Demeur said...

Makes me wonder when the storming of the Bastille will commence. Oops that's right that was France.

February 16, 2012 at 10:48 AM  
Blogger Demeur said...

Mr. Charleston that's why I never use it on my blog I'm motivated enough to delete spammers.

February 16, 2012 at 10:52 AM  
Blogger Randal Graves said...


February 16, 2012 at 1:00 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

JR: I hope we can make the necessary changes before our own version of Lenin or Mao comes along.

Jerry: It would be nice if we could at least slow the process down.

Snave: Yup, Obama needs to communicate with people's wallets. "Fairness" won't resonate and neither will Santorum's phony "family values" issues.

Mr. C: I don't know what's up with this new improved word verification thing. I've gotten rid of it; I'll just delete spam comments myself.

SW: I've always liked that line by Molly Ivins. You're right, ultimately it always ends badly for the entrenched few.

Jack: Thanks. The OWS protests have definitely changed the conversation. As much as the rightwads try to make it about birth control and gay marriage, the public is talking more and more about the economy and the wealth inequality.

Demeur: Who knows, maybe our Inner France will come roaring out one of these days.

Randal: Mr. Data is so 30 seconds ago.

February 16, 2012 at 2:12 PM  

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