I was on the Michael Medved show yesterday and we got into a discussion of wealth. I told him that a University of Southern California study by Professor G. William Dumhoff made in 2007 and revised in 2010 showed that 80% of Americans retain only 7% of America’s wealth. He then asked me if we should “steal money away from the rich and give it to the poor”. I replied in the affirmative saying that taxes should be levied on the super-rich, after all, how much do people actually need to live a good life? In the preamble of our Constitution it says:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
What I can’t understand is how we as a nation have come to see such a disparity in the division between upper-class and the middle-class. The Republicans and many Democrats forget that the preamble to the Constitution above says that we should promote the general welfare. Materialism has entered our political system in such a way that our fore-fathers would have a hard time recognizing the United States at all. From the age of enlightenment to the age of the Industrial state we flourished as a people. That was very short-lived. Eventually the class called “The Robber Barons” held sway in this country and made huge financial gains off the backs of our working poor resigned to sweatshops and factories.
When trade unions entered the picture, many of the coal mine owners and factory owners had many of the union organizers killed. The government of the United States even sent troops to break up strikes. Still, the tenacity of the workers gained them grudging acceptance for their unions and the lot of the workers was made a little easier.
Since we have entered this Great Recession, the unions through their own neglect and the use of scabs have made them practically useless. Ronald Reagan busted the backs of the unions when he first came to office and fired the air traffic control workers who had gone on strike. The Bush tax cuts for the wealthy in the hope that the disproved “trickle-down” theory of Ronald Reagan might work (or just to line the pockets of his rich “base”) allowed the upper 2% of the population to see monetary gains that have never been equaled in our nation.
Now the Republicans are telling this “middle class” of Americans with their measly 7% of the nation’s wealth, that to tax the rich would hurt business and lead to less hiring, this while the wealthy industrialists send our manufacturing base overseas in search of cheap labor. It utterly amazes me that what is left of the middle-class who now are living from paycheck to paycheck, and in some cases no paycheck at all, are swallowing this garbage coming from the Conservative Republicans. That so many people, through no fault of their own have lost their jobs and benefits and are working two or three part-time jobs just to feed their families and keep a roof over their head.
“Stealing from the rich”? Is promoting the general welfare of the people of the United States stealing? Since when have we become so possessive of our wealth that the idea of paying taxes to promote the general welfare of American families becomes so foreign? Are we so materialistic that people making over $250,000 per year can’t pay their fare share of this country’s burden? Have they no respect for the men and women that have broken their backs in order that they became wealthy?
This can no longer go on in the manner that it has. Sooner or later (sooner I think) the American people, the 80% that hold 7% of the wealth are going to understand just what is happening to them. There is something written in the Declaration of independence that can cure their grievances if our government cannot.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.”
This doesn’t have to happen. America can right its wrongs and care for the people that live here in the way that a community cares for its least fortunate. We can do better. We must do better or God help us all.