Posts Tagged ‘Income gap’

“Mind the Gap”

August 8, 2015

No not the gap between a London tube platform and a train’s car that signs warn riders to “mind,” but the very wide income gap between America’s wealthy and it’s shrinking middle class. That’s going to be the key issue in the  upcoming  presidential  election.  I didn’t hear it mentioned in the Republican debate Thursday night on Fox News.

One of the reporters did ask how Republican candidates are going to respond to Hillary Clinton’s claim, that, in essence, all Republicans care about are the wealthy. The main answer was that Republicans will grow the economy which will provide more jobs. Will  it? The economy has bounced back since the 2008 Great Recession. The trouble is that the improvement was soaked up by those at the top. The average worker’s income remained virtually flat. Money that could have been used to raise the incomes of employees and provide jobs went to the top. CEOs are doing very well. Just ask Donald Trump.

Wedge issues like Planned Parenthood and immigration got a lot of attention during the debate, but they didn’t derail President Obama and they won’t derail the Democratic candidate this time around, either.  Again, the main issue will be the economy. Growing it is not enough. Making sure that a fair share of that growth goes to America’s working class is the issue.  The Democratic candidate can win the  election, but will that solve the problem? Well, a Democrat has been sitting in the White House for almost 8 years now and the problem is still very much with us. 

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The Economic Elephant in the Room

February 13, 2012

What the Republican candidates are not talking about in their knock-down-drag- out fight for the presidential nomination is really the biggest problem facing this nation right now, the widening gap between the rich and the poor. Trying to just dismiss the subject by charging “class warfare” does not address the problem, and certainly is not going to solve it.

The class war is over. The wealthy won, just like they did in the Gilded Age of the 1890s and in 1929 right before the Great Depression. But all one has to do is look at history to know that odds are very high that the victory will be Pyrrhic. Prominent Columbus attorney Morton Harris, in his talk to the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Columbus, quoted 1st Century Greek historian Plutarch, who said: “Too great a disparity between the rich and the poor is the most fatal malady of a Republic.”

Mort and I, and another attorney friend of mine, Milton Jones, were in the Columbus Jaycees together back the in the 1960s. Milt introduced Mort Sunday. In that introduction we learned that Mort was a pitcher for the Jaycees’ softball team, and Milt was his catcher. I won’t tell you what Milt said about Mort’s pitching since both are lawyers. But I digress. Back to the income and weath gap mess.

Believe me it’s not crying wolf or saying that the sky is falling, or even making a poltical statement. It’s fact. It is really a gigantic problem. As Mort said, “Poverty and the feelings of injustice can become the ‘fuel’ for ‘revolution,’ either at the ballot box or in the streets.

“The risk of too wide a gap is that our country could lose either its private economic system or its democratic political system, or both, if too many are living in poverty and believe ‘there is no way out, no matter how I try.'”

Mort says, “There is too little awareness and even less understanding of this growing ‘Elephant in the Room.'” That’s probably going to change once Republicans nominate thier presidential candidate and the actual campaigns for president start. In the meanwhile, let’s take a look at what created this problem and just how bad it is. Stay with me, and I’ll get into the specifics that Mort passed along today in future posts, and we’ll discuss possible solutions.  If you have any, let me know.

Lasting Sound Bites

November 21, 2011

“Go get a job, right after you take a bath.”

-Newt Gingrich 

A friend’s quote dealing with the dangers of historically high income inequality inspired me to check other quotes that apply. He used the quote, “The palace is in danger when the cottage is unhappy.”

I don’t know to whom to attribute the “cottage” quote , but I came across another one that applies to our current social unrest situation that is attributed to Thomas Carlyle, Victorian-era Scottish author and philosopher. He said, “A man willing to work, and unable to find work, is perhaps the saddest sight that fortune’s inequality exhibits under this sun.”   Thomas Carlyle

When I saw that one, I had to reflect on the Newt Gingrich quote that has been played over and over on the cable news channels. He said the Occupy Wall Street protesters should, “Go get a job, right after you take a bath.”
That quote, which drew loud applause from the audience attending a Republican presidential primary candidate’s debate, triggered a lot of angry comments on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, with panelists calling it “arrogant” and “disgusting” from an hypocritical one-percenter who took over a million dollars from Freddie Mac.
How could he use such nasty rhetoric about the  protesters and not address at all the issues that are causing their protests, some of them wanted to know. But, another one was not surprised at all.  The former U.S. House Speaker has made it clear how he feels about the effectiveness of Republican nastiness.  Check out this Newt quote from Brainey Quotes.
“I think one of the great problems we have in the Republican Party is that we don’t encourage you to be nasty. We encourage you to be neat, obedient, loyal and faithful and all those Boy Scout words, which would be great around a campfire but are lousy in politics.” 
So, if you want nasty, Newt’s your man.

Morton Harris Warns of Costly Results if the Gap Between Rich and Poor isn’t Narrowed

November 8, 2011

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.