Illusion versus reality
America may still think of itself as the land of opportunity, but the chances of living a rags-to-riches life are a lot lower than elsewhere in the world, according to a new study published on Wednesday.
The likelihood that a child born into a poor family will make it into the top five percent is just one percent...
He also found the United States had one of the lowest levels of inter-generational mobility in the wealthy world, on a par with Britain but way behind most of Europe.
Recent studies have highlighted growing income inequality in the United States, but Americans remain highly optimistic about the odds for economic improvement in their own lifetime.
A survey for the New York Times last year found that 80 percent of those polled believed that it was possible to start out poor, work hard and become rich, compared with less than 60 percent back in 1983.
This contradiction, implying that while people think they are going to make it, the reality is very different, has been seized by critics of President Bush to pound the White House over tax cuts they say favor the rich.
The last 25 years has seen the introduction and implementation of Reaganomics. The American people have been sold the idea that they will benefit by tax breaks and incentives to corporations through the money trickling down to them.
That theory seems sound - as a pseudo-businessman, I appreciate that logic. However, the reality is that CEO pay has accelerated from a 10:1 ratio versus workers in 1980 to 430:1 now. I don't know how you cannot say that the rich are getting a lot richer, and the lower classes are getting the left-overs. That money was supposed to trickle down - not stay at the top. How much more time has to go by before folks stop writing this off as a mere coincidence?
Enron, WorldCom, and Global Crossing woke some Americans up 5 years ago, but corporate greed and negligence has since taken a back seat to war. Lately it seems that Lee Raymond's $0.4 billion dollar retirement package timed with high gas prices is causing a re-awakening. However, I'm pessimistic, given the above article, that this outrage will morph into a force that will tackle the larger issue.
I don't want wealth redistribution - I want good stewardship. I want modesty to replace greed. I want the systematic weakening of the middle class to end as well as the accompanying propaganda created for distraction purposes. I want corporations to stop opening post office boxes in the Bahamas to avoid domestic taxes. I want trickle-down economics to actually trickle-down. Does that make me a liberal?
I want folks to view this as the moral issue that it is. I want someone to take a stand and denounce these practices as un-American and more importantly as un-Christian. I want folks to realize their reality and stop making excuses or defending unethical and immoral behavior.
As long as the likes of Falwell, Robertson, Dobson, and the SBC dominate the moral issues on the airwaves, Americans will continue to vote their fears and not their pocketbooks.
We need a William Jennings Bryan, circa 1896.