Morton Harris, a very smart Harvard educated Columbus attorney and old Jaycee buddy of mine, is alarmed about what can happen if something isn’t done to correct the widening gap between the rich and the poor. Speaking to Columbus State University students and some faculty members today, he explained the intensity of the economic, political, and moral crisis our nation faces.
I was going to write a report on his talk, but after I requested a copy of his speech outline, he not only sent that, but a note that summed it up quite well, so I am going to let him tell you about it in his own words.
I feel we must do something soon to interrupt the accelerating rise of our country’s “underclass” which includes not only those living in poverty, but also many retirees, the unemployed and underemployed, and the increasingly strained middle class.
Considering the current fragile status of our economy, a growing “underclass” and an ever more strained middle class will weigh heavily on our country’s economic growth, especially since two-thirds of our GDP is consumer spending.
The key issue as I see it is that although we must deal with America’s growing indebtedness ($1.5 Trillion annual deficits and $15 Trillion+accumulated debt), to do so without raising taxes on the wealthy and ultra wealthy (who do not spend a significant portion of their income on consumption nor invest a high percentage of their wealth in new or expanding businesses) would necessitate even deeper cuts in government spending, which, during a recession, will only make matters worse. The possible negative effect on the economy of increased taxes on the wealthy and super wealthy is slight compared to the benefit that can be created by putting people back to work which will take additional funds, i.e., the building of bridges, roadways, dams and other construction jobs which only the government can do. To say that revenues are not “on the table” in dealing with our country’s long term indebtedness may be politically popular with many, but in my opinion, would at this time, be economic suicide for the country and for millions of our Nation’s growing underclass.
In a recent newspaper article about “flash mobsters” in the U.S. there was a comment from one of those interviewed who said, “We should not be surprised to see people using social media for organizing “flash mob” robberies. You essentially have a world where you have 25 million people who are underemployed and 2% of the population doing better than they ever have.” He went on to say, “why wouldn’t that lead to some sort of social unrest?” More recently, the Wall Street protestors are another expression of growing social unrest. I’m concerned that these expressions may be just the tip of the iceberg of what could happen if we don’t solve this problem soon.
I agree whole-heartedly with what Mort said, and I thank him for sending that summary.