Friday, February 25, 2011

Distribution of Wealth

     is really what government is all about.  The roads that are built, the bridges constructed are all about
economy and delivery of products and services.  Schools and education have replaced apprenticeship programs and are necessary for industry and modern technology.  Our military protects our wealth, our beliefs.  The local police protect our homes.  10,000 years ago, maybe if you wanted something, if you were big enough, you could just take it.  Someone discovered that six little guys had the power of one big guy and governments were formed.  You could no longer take what you wanted, there were laws and rules and regulations to acquisition of property.
    Nothing has ever been equal for everyone all the time.  There have always been poor people and the very rich.  These two extremes to our political system have always been with us and are probably not a bad thing
because they come with benefits.  The "right to be poor" is inextricably tied to the "right to be left alone" and individual rights, even the right to fail. On the other end of this spectrum, the wealthy, is our right to succeed and reap the rewards of working hard.  It offers us a goal and opportunity, something to "work hard for".
   This system of economics, our capitalist system has worked well for most people, most of the time.  It has always been open to improvement and there have been ways to alter it with the times.  For instance, we have abandoned slavery, we developed child labor laws and equal rights between the sexes.  More improvements can be made and we have a political system that slowly and steadily allow for these changes.
    But something has happened.  In the last twenty-five years something has happened that has horribly altered the math to our economic system and it is not working like it used to work.  Very simply put, if you reduced us to a village of only 100 people, it used to be like this:  there would be one person in this village who, for whatever reason just couldn't make it.  This person needed our assistance, maybe help with housing or food or unemployment or medical help. 80 people in this village had jobs and worked hard, paid taxes, bought cars and were at various points along this economic scale and they knew that working hard and carefully spending their money would offer them an even better future. Nine people worked for the government, doing what government people do, working to continue this system. and maybe ten people were "wealthy". Not wealthy beyond our dreams, in fact maybe our dreams could take us there.  We could work harder, save more, spend wisely, do what they did.  This was the "American Dream" and we were the only country in the world where this could really happen.  It still does, we are not entirely broken, but this might be only availabe to one in this village of a hundred.  About the same math as becoming a rock star.
   What it used to be, it seems, is there was a million dollars in this village.  The one poor person received
almost nothing.  The eighty people in the middle earned various proportions of $800,000 divided based on production and working hard, their educational and skill abilities. The people "at the top" split the remaining $200,000 and did whatever they did with it, invested it and loaned it out to create more!
    The math and distribution of money is all different now.  The "one" village poor guy has been joined by 20 others and for whatever reason just can't make it without a lot of help.  In fact, the help has been extended to the next 20 people and we now have in our little village of 100 forty people who are receiving help. Help with food, medicine, houseing, education, utilities, transportation, unemployment or something. There is no longer enough work in our village. What used to be a group of 80 people all working hard to sustain this system has dwindled to 60 and is getting smaller every day.  In 1965 General Motors was America's largest employer with an average wage of $25 per hour. Today it is Walmart with an average wage of just over nine dollars.
   The "top 10%" are still with us and always will be no matter the system.  The difference is now, instead of controlling that $200,000 in our mythical budget of a million, they control $400,000.  There is only the million to be had, you can't really just print more money.  So the very wealthy have acquired this by subtraction. It is all math in the end.  If someone gets more there will be someone who gets less.
    This might all be okay if these were even dreamable numbers, but they aren't.  We are talking riches here beyond our ability to count.  Five Billion Dollar Bonuses!!!! and almost none of it is returned to the village.
It is in off shore bank accounts. It is invested, not in our factories, nothing to support our village. It is out-sourced, sent to another villaged, not even in this country.  While we work hard and pay our 35% in taxes, these multi-billion dollar bonuses are taxed at 15%.  No transportation tax, nothing for our roads or bridges or to help our village in any way.  NO Social Security Tax, Nothing to help or offer assistance to our growing bottom, now 20%.
     The problem with this math, and math it is, is that it is getting worse.  We now have to offer incentives and bribery to keep the money here, to build our village instead of theirs.  Now the bottom is so much bigger and becoming larger every day.  The lowest Forty percent have nothing!!! and the top 10% control over 40% of the wealth.
    No, I am not a communist, I am not even a Socialist.  I live in this village.
This is what I do.

3 comments:

Kay said...

I hate this new math...

AutumnLeaves said...

Maybe I'm going off on a tangent here, Jerry...I have a tendency to do that at times! LOL Anyway, working hard and reaping rewards is a fine thing, if one doesn't hurt anyone en route, walk all over someone else's path. What really gets me is those who cheat, lie, steal to make that happen. Women who are with married men for years and end up inheriting the wealth (I know of someone like that)...another woman who benefitted from her husband's death and still is cheap enough to commit bunco, essentially, by returning things for full price at stores and picked up for a song at swap meets... Of course, then there are those who work their butts off for their whole lives just to live check to check, pay the rent/mortgage, put gas in the car, pay for insurance, doc visits, groceries, utilities, and if they are really lucky, eat out at McDonalds once a week. Yep, I have to agree...we've gone off the skids somewhere. Companies farm out their work to other countries where labor is cheap and those people can eke out their poor existence. Here people can't find work, live in their cars or in shelters, can't make a living by working at McDonalds but take the job for some relief, some help to their lives. I'm not too good for any job and this isn't a stab at McDonalds. At least they do provide jobs. And then (and THEN) there are people who take their jobs for granted, show up late, call in sick, do a half baked job while at work and for some weird reason get to stay on while someone with more education and experience is lucky to get a shoe in the door, and if they are lucky enough to get hired, work for much less than the idiot above and are darned glad for it. I could go on and on and on...As you can see, this is kind of a sore subject for me. My point is that the system just doesn't work for everyone and many seem to fall through the cracks, even those who would seem most unlikely to do that...

stonepost said...

Thank you for the comments! See, there is no arguement here: the system is broken! We need to have rules of Honesty in order to fix it. I am not in favor of creating any kind of equality by lowering or stealing from those above me. I worry a LOT about union busting and destroying collective bargining rights. We worked, literally thousands of years for those benefits and to reduce to the lowest common denominator is never a good idea, about anything.
Personally I think it is like a good mystery novel: follow the money. Who benefits? and then, as simple as a children's book: what's fair? I am bothered a LOT that 40% of the wealth is controlled by the top 2%. like bullies on the playground. They don't export jobs to China for MY benefit!!!