Posted on August 08, 2012
By Jim Jordal
Most Americans grossly underestimate both the incidence and the seriousness of unequal and inequitable wealth distribution in the United States. They seem not to know or even care that our democratic society is rapidly degenerating into a plutocracy ruled by the super rich at the expense of everyone else. This is an unprecedented political disaster because even the most elementary political texts tell us that democracy depends on an enlightened electorate for its continued success.
Annual income disparity is now at levels not seen since the Roaring Twenties almost 100 years ago and the Gilded Age over a century ago. And the distribution of total wealth is even more unequal. I clearly remember a comment in the economics textbook I formerly used: Under extreme laissez-faire (hands off, no regulation) economics, "the rich man’s dog will drink the milk the poor man’s child needs to survive." That’s what’s happening in the U.S. as the rich get obscenely richer and the poor get dramatically poorer.
So what’s gone wrong? Among other things, it’s a shameful apathy among those Americans seduced by a craze for money, possessions, and entertainment into a state of non-involvement with anything except their own pleasure. Their comment might well be "don’t bore me with unpleasant truth; I don’t want to hear it."
Posted on July 18, 2012
By Jim Jordal
It does when it claims that poverty is God’s will. Poverty is not a curse sent by God, nor is it his will. Rather, it is the inevitable result of greedy, powerful human institutions that exist to transfer wealth from the bottom of the income pyramid to the top.
It does when it urges passive acceptance in the face of monstrous evil. Supposedly, religion is in the business of uplifting human beings. If this is so, then perhaps we could consider that any practice---like exploitation leading to poverty---that demeans and minimizes human beings has any place in religion. It does no good for well-meaning people to excuse poverty with the misinterpretation of Jesus’ statement that we will always have poverty with us. Right now poverty is always with us, but only because we lack the political will to end it.
It does when it throws itself solidly on the side of political and economic institutions of oppression. Such institutions do not deserve religious support because their actions are inimitable to vast numbers of suffering people. Their actions constitute one of the major causes of poverty.
Posted on June 19, 2012
By Jim JordalWho needs austerity? It’s not the 99 percent, or the unemployed, or pensioners, or sick people, or children, or veterans, or teachers, or nurses, or students, or construction workers, or anybody who’s not already rich. Austerity is the latest delusion (big mistake based on a little truth) being pushed by the top 1 percent. Their goal is to make us believe that America (and the world) is financially doomed if we do not quickly balance government budgets, emasculate government safety nets, cut taxes for the rich, and reduce or eliminate governmental regulation of business. Austerity plans (especially in Europe) also demand increased expenditures for national security and drastic jumps in the prices of public necessities like electric power, water, energy for heating, and gasoline. None of these benefits the 99 percent, either here or there.
There seem to be two major political positions on how to deal with economic downturn. One is the classical Keynesian approach of priming the economic pump by increasing government spending, lowering interest rates, and reducing taxes on working class people. These actions may result in increased government debt, but that is considered less important than economic recovery and the welfare of workers and their families. We might call this a "percolate upward" process of economic recovery.