Economic Inequality in America: Transfer of Wealth- Part 6
Outcome of Economic Inequality
Economic inequality evolves into social inequality and sows discontent, anger, and outrage in society, which is then directed against those that are equal to us on the social ladder, rather than against the corporations and the politicians with the wealth and power that perpetuate economic inequality as a form of social control. Those that are equal to us economically are nearest to us socially and represent the greatest opportunity at getting ahead because they are tangible and easier to comprehend and confront than an out of reach corporation or an established federal institution.
In our current social and political climate, a poor white person will attack and blame a poor minority for their financial hardship quicker than directing that anger at financial institutions, and vice versa. Instead of focusing on the issues that unite all Americans, we allow the media, corporations, and politicians to divide us on the few social, identity politic issues that divide us and conjure up visceral reactions.
The hyper-polarized American social and political climate is a feature of our current system of government, not a malfunction. The quickest and surest way for a government to control a nation is to focus on the small differences in order to divide the people, rather than the many similarities that unite the population. Conflict becomes inevitable with our reliance on- and the corruption that retains- just two political parties in a country of over 330 million people; we give each side team names, team colors, team mascots, and team ideologies that establishes a pre-defined, static set of beliefs and a ridged culture of conformity and ignorance that removes individuality, originality, and freedom of thought in order to corrupt and control the minds of those that are consumed by their favorite political teams beliefs. Ideology is a result of intellectually lazy thinking; those that ascribe to a particular ideology abandon freedom of thought in order to receive acceptance into their ideological team.
If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.Thomas Jefferson
People in Unequal Societies…
- Live shorter lives: the U.S. is #43 of 222 countries in terms of life expectancy at 78.69 years as of 2016. Certain diseases affect poor and uneducated people disproportionately. The economic wealth gap fosters a health gap, as poor and middle-class is required to pay higher prices on health care without fair and sufficient wages to pay for treatment and medication. American’s life expectancy has declined three years in a row, primarily from opioid overdose deaths, liver disease from alcohol, deaths from obesity, and suicide.
- Do worse in school: the U.S. continues to fall behind in Math-25th; Reading-14th; Science-17th among OECD countries (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development: 36 modern, educated, high-income, industrialized countries that subscribe to democratic values and the market economy: Australia, Canada, Belgium, France, Germany, England, Portugal, South Korea, Norway, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Israel, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, U.K. Sweden, Switzerland).
- More people are imprisoned: the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate per capita in the world and the most people in prison. America houses five percent of the world population but holds 25 percent of the world’s prison population. The U.S. imprisons more people per capita than Russia, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, El Salvador, Iran, Turkey, China, Ukraine, Mexico.
- More children live in poverty: U.S.- 32%; U.K. 25.8%; New Zealand- 18.4%; Belgium- 16.4%; Germany- 15%; Switzerland- 14.7%; Poland- 14.5%; Austria- 14.2%; Netherlands- 13.9%.
- Have a lower quality of life; lower levels of happiness; higher levels of despair and diseases of despair (alcoholism and drug addiction). European and Scandinavian countries (Social Democracies) enjoy a higher quality of life than many Americans.
- People are more likely to suffer from a mental illness. U.S. has one of the highest rates of mental illness in the world.
- Higher prevalence of obesity. U.S. has the highest obesity rate on the planet. Obesity disproportionately affects the poor population.
- U.S. has the highest child mortality rate of 20 rich countries in OPEC; among the highest child poverty rates in the developed world at 21 percent.
- Higher likelihood of crime as poor people turn to theft or illegal activity to survive.
- This leads to the rise of nationalism, tribalism, extremism, authoritarianism, loss of faith in elected officials and democracy.
- Lower purchasing power for the poor and middle class, the core foundation of an advanced, wealthy, modern, industrialized nation.
- Corporations will actively work to weaken the nation in order to protect their own assets that they have acquired through tax manipulation, bribery (political donations and corruption), government subsidies.
- Greater income inequality leads to the monopolization of the workforce resulting in fewer employers requiring fewer workers. This leads to a decline in competition, higher prices on lower quality goods, a decline in customer service standards and corporate standards.
- U.S. has the weakest social safety net of all developed nations. When the American government overspends, cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other programs that benefit the poor and middle-class are the first to go.
- The concentration of wealth in fewer hands leads to a loss of ambition, individualism, independence, entrepreneurship; people turn to conformity to a group ideology to survive.
Poverty affects many nations across the planet on different levels of severity, but the most surprising comes from the advanced, modern, industrialized and economically well-off countries that espouse democratic values and widespread economic prosperity. In the United States, in particular, poverty is defined as having insufficient income during the year to purchase the bare necessities, i.e. food, shelter, healthcare; by some other standards, if you earn less than half the median (middle) income, you are considered poor. Poverty for a family of four in the United States means earning less than $24,000 in income per year, while poverty for a single individual means earning less than $12,228 per year.
While poor Americans are wealthier than the poorest global citizens, the majority of the incomes of poor Americans go towards the basic necessities: Food, water, healthcare, medication, shelter, education. Money does not go as far in a wealthy nation like the United States that fails to provide its citizens with the basics to survive. So while a poor person in America may be wealthier than a poor person in France, Germany, Australia, U.K., the American is forced to spend larger amounts of income on the fundamentals that European countries receive for far less and without much of the burden and despair that many poor Americans face.
Society places standards, constrictions, and hierarchies on the population; if an individual or a family does not meet societies classification of how a person should get by in an advanced nation, they are labeled and placed into a category that excludes them from participating in certain aspects of the economic and social system. This generates a two-tiered economic, social and judicial system that treats and punishes individuals according to their income level rather than what the law declares. Evidence of this treatment is clear when looking into the punishments handed to the poor population and minorities for small-scale, blue-collar crimes compared to the lack of punishment for massive, society threatening, white-collar crimes committed by the wealthy in the financial sector.
- 43 million Americans, 13.5 percent of the population, live in poverty; including 15 million children, 21 percent of American children.
- Of the 43 million Americans living in poverty, 23 million, 12 percent, are of working age (15-64). Within the working-age group: 4 in 10 are working; 1 in 10 had full-time, year-round employment, but did not earn enough to get out of poverty; 1 in 4 were employed, but not year round; 1 in 25 was seeking employment; 1 in 3 works part-time, not year-round.
- 2010: 46.2 million people living in poverty, most in US history (height of the recession) 56% were women; 67% were white; 42% lived in the South; 84% were born in the US; 1 in 3 were children; 11% were elderly 65+
- Highest poverty rates by ethnicity in the United States: Native American- 27.6%; African American- 26.2%; Hispanic-23.4%; White-12.4%; Asian-12.3%.
- In the OECD, the U.S. ranks 35th out of 37 model countries in terms of poverty and economic inequality.
United Nations Report on Poverty in the U.S.
In a tour of the United States to report on the living conditions and poverty level in the wealthiest country that the world has ever known, United Nations Officer, Phillip Alston, discovered that even a nation as advanced as America suffers from a lack of care and understanding about the systemic corruption and political bureaucracy that allows tens of millions of Americans to struggle in an unequal society under a government that protects corporations over poor people. Alston reports that in the United States: there are 43 million Americans, 13.5 percent of the population, living in poverty; there are eight million more poor whites than there are blacks; America has the lowest rate of social mobility of any of the rich, developed nations.
As noted in the World Inequality Report 2018, in both Europe and the U.S. the top one percent of adults earned around 10 percent of national income in 1980. In Europe that has risen today to 12 percent, but in the U.S. it has reached 20 percent. In the same time period in the U.S. annual income earnings for the top one percent have risen by 205 percent, while for the top 0.001 percent the figure is 636 percent. By comparison, the average annual wage of the bottom 50 percent has stagnated since 1980.
It is a fact that many of the wealthiest (American) citizens do not pay taxes at the rates that others do, hoard much of their wealth off-shore out of the jurisdiction of the American tax system and often make their profits purely from speculation (capital) rather than contributing to the overall wealth of the American economy.United Nations Poverty in America Report by Philip Alston
How to Alleviate Poverty
- Direct democratic decision making, not dictated by politicians beholden to their corporate financial contributors.
- Full employment policies with pay that increases as inflation increases.
- Special protection for the vulnerable (children, disabled, and the elderly), a fair and effective justice system not rooted in racism.
- Responsible fiscal and monetary policies; gender and racial equality.
- Environmental justice to prevent fossil fuel corporations from destroying the planet while taxpayers pick up the bill.
- Higher quality healthcare system that provides adequate treatment to all that require assistance and does not discriminate against the poorest Americans.
- Improved social spending to elevate all levels of the population: U.S. Census Bureau found that in 2017, Social Security helped keep 27 million Americans out of poverty. Economic security and social safety net programs lifted 36 million people, seven million children, out of poverty in 2016, reduced poverty rate from 25.3 percent to 14 percent.
How to Fix our Unequal Society
Americans must demand a system that benefits all levels of society, instead of viewing life in terms of the accumulation of profit at the expense of the poor and through the exploitation of the planet’s natural resources that no one single individual or corporation owns. The Earth is not a piece of material to be possessed and owned, but an experience, a shared experience, by all forms of plant, animal, and human life for this short period of time. One day each of our times on this organic space ship flying through infinity will end, but if we continue to live our lives with an inflated ego and an ignorant sense of Self, as if this temporary experience lasts forever, then the corrupting influence of money and greed will continue to elevate the undeserving and fragile egos of those in positions of power.
When a deceitful government joins with amoral, profit-driven corporations, to interfere with the love and understanding of direct human experience, then we allow these external organizations to hijack our joy in life and replace it with a system of control and dependence that governs our behavior and dictates the direction of our society. The love that we give and the positive message of progress and hope that we put out into the Universe comes back to us if we open ourselves up to the beautiful and wonderful nature of human existence.
Our reliance on outdated ideological systems like capitalism, communism, and socialism will bring failed results, as these systems of governing and control are rooted in an era vastly different from the sociocultural problems that Americans face today.
The United States requires a unique and novel model of government, for the modern time; and an economic system that benefits all levels of society without leaving the poorest among us struggling to survive on low wages in an increasingly expensive country, controlled by increasingly powerful corporations. Not an archaic and flawed social system, but an updated system that combines the best policies of capitalism, socialism, communism, and entirely modern forms of government, where technology and healthy competition boost economic growth without the government protecting the largest corporations that pay the most money; where barriers and impediments on the poor and middle class are removed to encourage entrepreneurship from all levels of society, not just the already wealthy.
Expanding entrepreneurship to all levels of society is the foundation of the once respected, American Dream. Our culture must reestablish that hope in people’s lives; that they can be and do anything in this life if they put their minds and hearts to accomplishing their goal, without the impediment of wealth. Entrepreneurship that comes from the poor and middle-class population ensures that our society lifts each other up during times of prosperity instead of viewing those that are less fortunate as a lower class citizen. This allows for greater transparency and accountability as well as greater individual involvement and personal responsibility in matters that affect us all as a species. When there are two competing sides, in a capitalist society, the side with the money, power, wealth, connections, time, and influence always wins, while the other side sees their basic, fundamental human rights diminish under the guise of capitalist work ethic.
The United States requires economic policies to increase workers wages as productivity improves to prevent the ever-increasing divide between corporate profits and the lack of employee compensation; American citizens must demand laws to protect the poor and middle class during times of inflation so that the cost of living does not price-out and exclude a majority of the population from participating in the economy.
The government must establish an equal healthcare system with fair costs that do not prevent the poor and middle class from receiving expensive treatments. Healthcare is a fundamental human right, not a privilege, in the wealthiest and greatest nation that the Earth has ever known.
The United States government must establish pathways towards education for any individual- no matter their wealth- that wishes to pursue a degree. Education is an investment in society, an investment in people, and trust and belief that our nation improves when knowledge and truth are disseminated through all sociocultural and economic levels.
American citizens must demand that the corrupting influence of money in politics be removed, or remove the politicians beholden to their corporate donors, which means removing nearly every politician in government today; but this is just the nature of the game they play and the corrupt system that they must obey for their political survival and for the ego-driven creature that they identify themselves with.
Other than a change to the corruption of politicians themselves, a change to the very system of government that allows corporate bribery to exist must be demanded, either with new laws that level the playing field so that a corporation and a single voter have an equal voice, through the removal of corporate lobbyists that throw bribes at Congress, or through an amendment to the Constitution that prevents corporations from purchasing influence and from writing federal policies that affect the public.
Americans must demand a fair taxation system that does not allow billion-dollar corporations to evade paying American taxes on profits made in the United States or a system that places a majority of the tax burden on the poor and middle-class. A fair taxation system is not a matter of wealth redistribution (free wealth), as many dogmatic, right-wing zealots and conservative pundits radically spew out calls of socialism and communism; rather, the issue deals with removing the corruption by the corporations that have infected the government with bribes and manipulation of the laws intended to protect the people from predatory capitalist behavior.
Instead of focusing our attention on the small number of differences in our culture and between different ideological systems. Instead of allowing the mainstream media to distract us with sensational and ignorant stories that confuse and manipulate our beliefs. Instead of allowing politicians and the federal government to control our minds, happiness, and wellbeing through their corruption, individual Americans must begin to take more personal responsibility and accountability for their actions. By doing so we may begin to take the necessary steps towards discovering our true selves on this beautiful planet surrounded by crazy people with their wacky ideas, but we are all still human and share in this experience together.