Thursday, July 26, 2012

The price of inequality

The Daily Show with Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive - Joseph Stiglitz Extended Interview Pt. 1
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The Daily Show with Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive - Joseph Stiglitz Extended Interview Pt. 2
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook


The Daily Show with Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive - Joseph Stiglitz Extended Interview Pt. 3
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

I don't usually post these extended interviews from The Daily Show, but this is too important to miss.

In America, "the land of opportunity," we now have the least equality of opportunity of any of the advanced industrial countries - including all of Europe, which so many of our ancestors fled for the opportunities here.

It's just incredible, isn't it? It's not just that we've become the most unequal developed nation, but that the opportunity to better ourselves has declined to that extent, too!

Well, that's what three decades of 'trickle-down' economics will do to you. Ever since Reagan, we've been giving tax breaks to the wealthiest of the wealthy, while chipping away at our infrastructure, our schools, our society.

Now, the "American dream" is a myth, for many people. Republicans believe it like they believe other myths. But then, they're faith-based, not evidence-based. And they'd rather blame black people, they'd rather blame Hispanic immigrants, they'd rather lie about Barack Obama, than face reality.

"The life chances of somebody - a young person born in the United States - is more dependent on the income and education of his parents than in any of the advanced countries for which we have data, much worse than even in Old Europe."

Just think about that. It's not a problem that Mitt Romney was born wealthy, or that his children were born wealthy. (They're starting out with a $100 million trust fund, for chrissake!) The problem is that those people now pay a much, much lower tax rate than you do (especially considering all the loopholes and tax shelters they've been given - likely, most of Romney's earnings aren't even considered taxable income, so they wouldn't show up on his tax forms even if he did release them).

Yet those taxes pay for the kind of society that lets people like the Romneys accumulate their wealth and enjoy it - things like police and fire departments, public schools, roads and bridges, a legal system, pollution control, health officials, the military, etc.

And we can't fund a decent educational system, available to all, that way. We can't build the kind of nation we need when the wealthy are given such windfalls. We can't even maintain the country we once had!

If you want the evidence for that, look at the last 30 years, ever since 'trickle-down' economics took hold of the Republican Party (and since the Republican Party, that's to their 'Southern strategy' of deliberately wooing white racists, has dominated American politics.)

"Wealth incumbency." Yes, that's a great phrase. And that's exactly what we're talking about here. We're creating a hereditary aristocracy in America. If you're born rich, you have all the advantages. If you're born poor, you have none.

And if you're born into the middle class, you've got a far better chance of dropping into poverty than of climbing up the ladder of success. The lack of a strong social safety net means that one unexpected setback can knock you out of the middle class. And the increasing expense of a college education means that your children will have less of a chance to better themselves than you did.

This is the price of inequality. And now that corporations are 'people' and money is 'speech' - according to the Republican majority on the Supreme Court, at least - this is getting worse and worse. (Note that corporate CEOs can use my money - and yours, if you own stocks or mutual funds - to buy politicians to give themselves tax breaks, and they can do it all without even telling us that's what they're doing with our money.)

Guess what? The wealthy don't like paying taxes. Well, few of us really like paying taxes, but some of us recognize why they're necessary. But it's always very easy to believe what you want to believe, so if you're rich yourself, you'll probably want to believe that tax cuts for the rich are good for everyone.

Ordinarily, that wouldn't be a problem. The rich, by definition, are only a tiny fraction of the American people. And we've got a democracy here, right?

Unfortunately, the rich have used their wealth to increase their control of our political system. And thanks to Fox 'News' and other media - and hundreds of millions of dollars in anonymous political ads - they've succeeded in convincing the ignorant and the gullible to support their agenda.

Sadly, we have a lot of ignorant and gullible people here in America.

2 comments:

Chimeradave said...

It's happened to me it seems. My parent's were an upper middle household. I when to graduate school, but the economy was so bad when I graduated I couldn't get a job in my field so my wife and I are struggling. I'll probably never make as much as my parents did.

WCG said...

Be thankful you got a good education, John. I worked my way through college, but I doubt if I could do that these days. We're making it harder and harder for kids to make it, unless they picked wealthy parents.