Sep 26, 2013

Rising Inequality in the US. We're the Worst in Income Inequality in the Developed World.

Robert Reich's Inequality For All movie is coming out and I think it's a must-see for those who are interested to know the economic reality in the US. Here's the trailer:

As I teach political science courses, we discuss questions like, what is justice, what's the mission statement of the US, what are the priorities and public policy we should have in order to make our country a better place to live for all, or at least to maximize the good life for as many people as possible.

I'm not surprised that so many students have bought the narrative that we, Americans [not all, of course; there are other "Americans" such as Canadians, Mexicans, etc.] are so much better off than everyone else in the world that inequality is acceptable. [The public doesn't really know the obscenity of the gap] That the "free market" is best when it's left alone. That government gets in the way so smaller, impotent government is best. That the best way to create jobs is to give tax breaks and special treatment to the wealthy--the "job creators".

Quoting from Reich's blog:
In reality, the “free market” is a bunch of rules about (1) what can be owned and traded (the genome? slaves? nuclear materials? babies? votes?); (2) on what terms (equal access to the internet? the right to organize unions? corporate monopolies? the length of patent protections? ); (3) under what conditions (poisonous drugs? unsafe foods? deceptive Ponzi schemes? uninsured derivatives? dangerous workplaces?) (4) what’s private and what’s public (police? roads? clean air and clean water? healthcare? good schools? parks and playgrounds?); (5) how to pay for what (taxes, user fees, individual pricing?). And so on. 

Back in the Middle Ages, when a new class, the merchants, began to elbow their way into the old regime. It was a good thing though, because it demonstrated the fallacy of ascribed status  and political absolutism. Competition brought new ideas and the rediscovery of the "roots of western civilization" in ancient Greece & Rome.

But, the rich, regardless of their origin and ways to the top, have understood that the biggest returns/profits come by investing in the politics. With technology, the media is another realm where influencing the public narrative also pays in spades. Oh, and in the US, making elections very expensive is also a good way to wielding power.

It's Class War!

I have to lough, though it's not funny, when Joe Lotta, the GOP's NYC mayoral candidate is accusing the Democrat Bill de Blasio of engaging in class warfare! Have you noticed that it's the conservatives and the rich who are flinging this charge? If there were a war, it's been won by the rich. 

View From the top: Contempt 

Paul Krugman in today's (9/27/13) op-ed writes about the ridiculous views people at the very top of the economic pyramid have about the rest of us, while they're exhibiting a wealth of arrogance. How else would you describe their greed and their expectation that when the going is good, the profits remain private, but when they make stupid decisions and fail, they demand that the cost is socialized!

It defies common sense to have CEOs making tons of money plus bonuses while their companies failed and the public's money is used for a bailout! They say that it's like Hitler invading Poland or like the lynchings in the South!  I say, maybe it's time to really show them how a true invasion looks like. As for the lynchings, I'm not advocating violence, but when I hear such arrogant pronouncements I see (and secretly wish) elements of the French Revolution fittingly applied here.