Saturday, February 07, 2015
The Income Gap
As a few Americans know, the United States fell from first to second place behind China as the world's largest economy in 2014. What
Well, that's the rub isn't it? You see, "socialism" has never actually existed. Yes, we've had countries call themselves that because that was the goal they were attempting to reach. Russia wanted to achieve a socialism based on the teachings of Karl Marx and Fredrick Engels, however in his efforts to bring this about, Lenin "corrected" Marx to use his expression to make the rules fit with his reality. His expressed goal, however, was to shrink government to the size of the local Post Office and maximize individual freedom, that it, after the transition from capitalism through the "dictatorship of the proletariat". Stalin, who succeeded Lenin, was never all that interested in socialism in any form and as far as he was concerned, the dictatorship would remain in place. Stalin's interest was in power. So through forced collectivization and the use of a Police State and its gulags, converted Russia from a backward agricultural nation to a modern industrial fascist-like State with the State owning the corporations; not exactly what Marx had in mind. Hitler too used the term "socialism", but it didn't have the same meaning as we normally think of it. To him and the Nazi elite, the word meant more of community of likeminded individuals. Thus "National Socialism" meant a community of Germanic People who shared a common culture and origin, yet corporations worked in partnership with the government.
As for fascism itself, its founder, Benito Mussolini, envisioned it a working partnership between the big corporations and the
A precursor to fascism is typically an oligarchy, which is basically rule by a small elite (often rich and powerful) group. In our case, we morphing into a fascist State where corporations will have more of a leading role rather than a equal partnership. Another feature of fascism is a tendency toward militarism, which our never-ending "war on terrorism" conveniently provides, and a increased militarized mindset of law enforcement, State controlled or influenced media or propaganda, increased surveillance and a "divide and conquer mentality" of the population, not to mention a shifting of the wealth (and power) toward the ruling elite. Does any of this sound familiar? And that dreaded "socialism" I was speaking about earlier? Well that means the equality or at least a parity of wealth among everyone and common ownership of most things. Corporations would essentially be employee owned and operated with employees electing board members (one employee/one vote), so there would be no need for a Wallstreet. Banks, if they existed, would look more like credit unions. Utilities and energy sources would be nationalized. Taxes would be high, but then things like housing and groceries would be subsidized while education, medicine and medical care, with the emphasis more on prevention than treatment most likely, would be free. The closest examples I can think of would be found in Holland and Scandinavia before the big influx of immigration.
Another old saw says that "it takes money to make money". Well, there's still truth in that, except the money is less spent and more "invested"; invested in the corridors of power that is. Not only did Citizens United essentially give corporations--these man-made legal fictions---the same rights as you and I, but actually certain rights which exceeded those of the average citizen, at least when it comes to making political contributions. Combine this with what's known as "regulatory capture", and you can see we are in a serious jam. Oh, what's "regulatory capture" you ask? Simply this, it puts foxes in charge of the chicken coup, or more accurately, it gives the keys to the bank to the crooks. Regulatory capture basically puts those being regulated, such as financial institutions, in charge of the regulatory process by either allowing them to help draft the regulations themselves and/or managing the agency in charge through the process of appointment. Considering that many of those elected to Congress pal around with these individuals or at the least are a beneficiary of their largesse, it's little wonder that there's constantly a "loop hole" of some sort in the various laws. Many of those called upon to help draft regulations are the very lobbyist paid to represent that industry's interests, and those appointed are often the ones recommended by these very same individuals! Now you see what I mean by the fox and the chicken coop.
Real consumption spending by the top 5% increased by 17% since 2009 but only 1% by the remaining 95%. Globally, it also means that globally 41% of all wealth is in the hands of just 1%. Those with incomes below USD $10,000.00 represent 69% of the world's population. That's just 3% of the total global wealth. Upper end net worth is 70x that of those in the lower income bracket. That's the highest disparity in 30 years according to a Pew Report from 2015. In 1979, pre- tax income among the 1% received 8.9%. By 2012, that number reached almost 23%. Average real wages (adjusted for inflation) has increased by an annual rate of just 1% or 1/2 the productivity growth rate since 1980. However, the highest percentage was reserved for the top 10%, with CEOs earning, on average 380% more than the salary of their average employee.
Finally, restore the American Dream by cutting red tape that restricts competition, especially from small and medium size companies. Meanwhile, you and I can shop as often as possible at locally owned stores or farmer markets, and we can support independent and third party candidates; We can become citizen activists and use our social networks to spread the message, attend meetings and speaking out; We can write letters and send emails to those elected to represent us, be it in City Hall or Congress. Remember that in the long run the only true power any of them have is our obedience.
Wealth inequality in America: It's worse than you think
Income Inequality Is a problem
The Rising Cost of U.S. Income Inequality
Global Democracy Ranking