Common Sense, American Style
By Paul Buchheit | April 26th, 2011 |
Here then is the origin and rise of government; namely, a mode rendered necessary by the inability of moral virtue to govern the world. –Thomas Paine
People in power believe that the free market will solve society’s ills, that anyone willing to work hard can succeed, as they did themselves. Somewhere along the line the rich and powerful lost touch with the great majority of Americans. Their link to this barely visible world may be a server in a restaurant, or a taxi driver, or a clerk behind the counter. The “other America” has grown larger and more diverse.
235 years after Thomas Paine, we live in a society that allows one man to make enough money in a year to pay the salaries of 100,000 health care workers.
Many of us tolerate – even celebrate – such outrageous incomes because we continue to believe that we, too, will be rich someday. Our elected leaders continue to cut taxes for the rich, because this, they have been told, will benefit everyone in the long run. But in thirty years it hasn’t happened. What has happened is the greatest-ever redistribution of wealth.
U.S. GDP has quintupled since 1980, and we all contributed to that success. If the middle class had just maintained the share of income it held 30 years ago, it would be earning an extra trillion dollars a year, about $12,000 per family. Instead that extra trillion dollars goes to the richest 1%.