When Will We Finally Find the Courage to Challenge the Status Quo?

by on February 25, 2019 · 1 comment

in Under the Perfect Sun

The Wages of Inequality Continue to Grow, Year after Year

Over the last few weeks, the national political discourse has been chock-full of ridiculous handwringing in what stands in for progressive circles over whether Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and “the left” will push the Democrats beyond what whoever the pundit of the moment is deems the “acceptable” political boundaries.

Apparently, Trump can flirt with authoritarianism, push the world toward ecocide, and lie through his teeth every day but Democrats cross the line when they fail to properly genuflect before our plutocratic masters.

Meanwhile, America’s moneyed elite are laughing all the way to the bank.

The rich are getting richer so fast that it’s hard to keep up with them.  That’s the take away from a new Economic Policy Institute study that notes that the federal survey used to measure wages at the top is inadequate because the “threshold” after which they stop recording wages for top earners hasn’t been updated in 20 years despite the fact that the earnings of the rich have skyrocketed since that time. Hence, as the Washington Post put it in a story on the EPI report, “Increases in wages at the top are outpacing economists’ ability to measure them.”

Nonetheless, as the Post observes:

[T]he available data paints a clear picture of broadening disparities between top earners and everyone else. Adjusted for inflation, wages for the top 5 percent of earners rose from $50.46 an hour in 2000 to $63.10 in 2018, an increase of 25 percent. The median worker’s hourly wage, meanwhile, rose by 7 percent over that period, to $18.80.

The EPI study is also important because while much of the news media continues to equate current low unemployment numbers with a “good economy,” the picture isn’t really that rosy for the average worker.  In “State of Working America Wage 2018,” EPI’s Elsie Gould observes that:

“Although the unemployment rate continued to fall and participation in the labor market continued to grow over the last year, most workers are experiencing moderate wage growth and even workers who have seen more significant gains are just making up ground lost during the Great Recession and slow recovery rather than getting ahead.

In addition to that reality check, the EPI report also documents several significant trends:

  • That the disparity between the top 5 percent of earners and everyone else is broadening.
  • That while the wage inequality is growing in general, the gaps between whites and workers of color persists and is, in some cases, worsening.
  • That the wage gap between men and women persists despite some progress.
  • That wages for lowest paid workers increased the most in states with minimum wage increases.

As stark and persistent as the decades-long march of inequality with regard to wages is, things look even worse when one considers not just income, but wealth.  That is precisely what the most recent Oxfam report on global inequality did and it isn’t pretty.

According the Guardian :

The growing concentration of the world’s wealth has been highlighted by a report showing that the 26 richest billionaires own as many assets as the 3.8 billion people who make up the poorest half of the planet’s population.

In an annual wealth check released to mark the start of the World Economic Forum in Davos, the development charity Oxfam said 2018 had been a year in which the rich had grown richer and the poor poorer.

It said the widening gap was hindering the fight against poverty, adding that a wealth tax on the 1% would raise an estimated $418bn (£325bn) a year – enough to educate every child not in school and provide healthcare that would prevent 3 million deaths.

Of course, just as the hard edge of income inequality falls more heavily on women and people of color, the global wealth disparity also dishes out harms inequitably. Thus, it is clear that continuing to look at the intersection of race, class, and gender rather than privileging one factor over the other is the wisest approach for any progressive analysis of power and that focused policies that raise wages for the poor, like minimum wage increases, protecting collective bargaining rights for all workers, and enacting progressive taxes on the wealthy, are tried and true ways to raise everyone up regardless of race or gender.

But when the world’s 26 richest people own as much as the poorest 50% of human beings on the planet, things like a wealth tax that would still leave billionaires obscenely rich are seen as unrealistic pipe dreams—not because they wouldn’t work, but because the current neoliberal ideological hegemony finds basic economic justice unimaginable.

And things will only rapidly continue to get worse on all fronts until we find the courage to break free of the mind-forged manacles that keep us chained to a system that is running the world off a cliff.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

sealintheSelkirks sealintheSelkirks February 26, 2019 at 2:55 am

In this country? Worst case? Never. Or not until the entire economic/political systems collapse on their own (all empires die, we know this from history). Neither the wealthy nor the government (especially one owned by the wealthy) ever give up acquired power and wealth voluntarily. At least I know of no example of that ever happening.

We as a people had the chance in the 1920s & 30s. There were serious people working to change the have/have nots paradigm that this society is built on. The only thing that stopped the growing insurrection of the unemployed working class back then was police violence and FDR’s ‘New Deal’ that was essentially designed to save Capitalism/Colonialism from itself and keep hidden the worst predations of the greediest most demented vicious humans that were at the top of that cute pyramid printed with this article.

Very appropriate picture by the way.

Looking at that picture, the third layer sure has far more effective and powerful weapons to use on us now than back in the 1930s. Militarized with Iraq war weapons police forces armed with L-Rad sound cannons, burning microwave-shooting trucks, rocket launchers, machine guns…and San Diego spent $30 million for its very own spy cams and microphones stashed in streetlights in San Diego that only that third cake layer has access to.

The 1930 police riots were bad enough without modern weaponry. We can read about the violence that was pushed by the wealthy elites who pretty much ran the country then. I heard about it from my grandparents, read much history since, none of it the prettied-up whitewashed kind of history taught in schools. But does anyone care or is your cell phone ringing and you’re too busy? Certainly I can’t think of many who are willing to be beaten, imprisoned, or killed by their own government by challenging the status quo as our ancestors were willing to do.

But then I grew up seeing the same kind of violence against social/political/economic change that was again planned and executed by the wealthy elites in the 1960s and early 70s using the power of government to infiltrate, subvert, initiate false flag attacks, use politically-vetted ‘friendly’ judges and prosecutors as weapons to stifle dissent, and all the rest of their machinations we’ve learned about since then. All that and far more have been added to the wealthy elite’s ‘keep the status quo’ bag of tricks .

What if anything has changed for the better since the 70s? Are people more informed when 95% of the adult population gets it’s ‘news’ from 6 very conservatively-owned mega-media corporation tv stations? When political dissent is still a social crime and disparaged at every chance by supporters of the status quo in that mass media?

With us or with the terrorists? What kind of crap is that? Sure ain’t freedom or democracy. Now we hear screeching about ‘with us or with Putin.’ Same crap different decade.

After the horrors of the right-wing extremist Reagan years all we got was…more of the same neoliberal corporate policies but increasingly farther to the right no matter who was heading up the government. Remember it was Clinton who untied the hands of Wall St. banks!

When I talk with people who were activists in the 60s & 70s and they honestly admit that if Reagan was running for president in 2020 he would be considered a ‘centrist moderate Democrat’ who would be to the left of Obama and Hillary (much less W bush or Trump), we know we are in deep deep trouble. There is no center much less an active left wing! And Trump even resurrected the Reagan/HW Bush War Criminal pardoned by HW Bush now non-ex-felon Abrams to help overthrow a democratically elected government in Venezuela that has (according to Pres. Jimmy Carter and international election observers) the cleanest elections in the world. Funny that the US won’t allow election observers. Don’t you find that strange for a ‘democracy?’

How’s that for not changing for the better, eh? To paraphrase comic & actress Lily Tomlin: You can never become cynical enough to keep up.

Read this just written by Kevin Tillman brother of NFL star Pat Tillman RIP in Iraq:

https://www.truthdig.com/articles/a-call-to-halt-an-illegal-invasion-of-venezuela/

How many are speaking out about this? And what good did it do to have the largest anti-war protests on the planet worldwide in 2002-03 against the coming US War Crime of invading Iraq? The US is still killing in Iraq. Nobody goes to jail.

Okay, I give up. Just when do you think we will have the courage to again attempt throwing off the chains?

sealintheSelkirks

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