Pervasive and growing inequality is corroding American democracy, and only ambitious solutions—including healthcare for all, a living wage, and the elimination of corporate influence on the political process—will be sufficient to remedy the crisis.
One ideal steps forward would include the only one we need to go forward:
Drastic, but not drastic enough.
As the great Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said:
“We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”
Ultimately, the problem isn’t how to redistribute wealth, but how to distribute it fairly in the 1st place. These recommendations leave the underlying structure of ownership and power in place. Until the vast majority of Americans who own little or nothing take their rightful share away from the filthy rich, and put laws in place that ensure continued fair wealth distribution and prohibit wealth concentration, the problems created by inequality won’t be eradicated.
This is so very sad, but hardly surprising. fairley7, quoting Brandeis. provides another example of the problem. In Canada, a millionaire owner of a large food chain says $15 per hour is going to cut into the chains bottom line — making it sound like an indictable offence. America was great when people had relatively similar means, and worked together to do great things.
America is collapsing, and the President’s plans will do nothing to “make America great” again. Woe is us.
The policies that are leading to quickly growing inequality in America are the cause of the increases we see today in lawlessness, homelessness and poverty. These policies are policies of choice written, legislated and controlled by the elite
The U.S. has fallen prey to the very thing it rebelled against in the first place: an immutable aristocracy.
I’m almost all the way through Michael Hudson’s J is for Junk Economics, and he addresses this. (Highly recommended)
The wealthy have too much wealth, they are able to decide the agenda and the outcomes, set the frames of reference for discussion, and ‘disappear’ the more realistic and more equitable (read ‘democratic’) systems of economics.
One gloomy observation, by Piketty, is that the only thing that stopped and reversed the previous concentration of wealth by the, um, one-percenters was the two world wars in quick succession.
The $15/hour minimum, by Loblaw’s own reporting, is going to cut into their profits by $190 million, per the Toronto Star.
Or, as I wish more of the news media would report a fuller picture, along the lines of Vice Magazine: “For companies like Loblaws, boosting local consumer demand is paramount to its continued profitability. Sure, $190 million a year in additional costs is a financial drag, but think about how much more the company could make in the long run if a significant chunk of Canada earns a healthy living wage.”
Don’t feel bad for Galen Weston; even with his full-time employees earning $15/hour, he’ll still be making 160 times what their making. Put another way, he makes their yearly salary every day and a half. It sure it nice being born rich, apparently.
It amazes me that that these observations have not yet made the connection between the parasitic gouging and militarism and the concurrent attempts to criminalize the boycott as with the BDS.
That enormous private wealth likes those blood diamonds in Africa, those precious and rare minerals in Afghanistan, the magnificent hardwoods in the Amazon and Indonesia forests and shooting exotic and endangered animals every where. They’d log the moon if there were trees up there and they could get our gov’t to pay for it.
My friends says by 2050 it won’t matter what they have, however, because their private security costs will be immense. And, of course, they’ll kill each other, fighting over who has the rights to what’s left.The excuses for all this will historically be same as ever: " I have to protect and provide for my children’s and grandchildren’s future ( as privileged trustifarians ) ". Same one the Mafia uses, btw.
Many of those same friends from the late '60s also have none, or one or two children, at most. They are pro-environment and pro-sustainability. Books like The Population Bomb, Small is Beautiful, My Body, My Self and many others sat on their hand made coffee tables or book shelves. Now we say to America, " So much for the afterglow, da nada ".
“All of these facts make inequality “the most pressing issue of our time,” Collins argues.”
I agree that this is a pressing issue. I would argue that this article omits the two most pressing issues of our time, global warming and war. Reversing inequality is vital to a functioning democracy; reversing the warmongering and the greenhouse gase emissions is vital to a functioning planet.
“LIMITING campaign contributions” will exacerbate the inequality problem just as “campaign finance reforms” during the past four decades have.
The only way inequality will ever reverse is by making ALL campaign contributions illegal with zero tolerance and meaningful punishment, combined with public financing of campaigns.
The title is bass ackwards. Oligarchs, plutocrats and capitalists create inequality. If we can’t get that much straight, we are truly doomed.
Would it not be far simpler to raise taxes on the wealthy back to the 1950’s 90%+ top-marginal rate, and then follow Warren Buffett’s recommendation to make “big-time” increases in the Earned Income Tax Credit?
They are integrated. Contemporary warfare is a function of capitalists trying (rather successfully) to control the resources and labor of the planet. Also, the U.S Pentagon is the largest polluter in history. However, you are exactly correct for calling out Johnson for not understanding the relationships between wealth, politics and the environment.
I guess I could suggest that he read some Marx, but that would be too “old fashioned” and isn’t Marx one of those rooskie commies anyway who are all friends with Trump? Oh wait, he was Jewish and a Prussian and an ex-pat living in London. Nevermind, reading is so passe anyway. Sorry to take your time.
The list of remedies missed a couple of specific biggies – 1. ending the court doctrine of corporate constitutional personhood, and 2. ending the court doctrine that spending money in elections is the equivalent of free speech.
But the author also misses the boat on the causes and solutions for wage stagnation. Hourly compensation, including benefits, began to flatline in 1973, 44 years ago. American workers have not had a real raise in 44 years. Who did start getting huge raises 44 years ago? CEOs. The officers of America’s corporations have stolen for themselves the raises due to their workers created by those workers’ increasing productivity.
So much for the cause. What about a solution?
Tie the deductibility to the corporate tax return of all forms of compensation to its top tier of officers and managers to a modest multiple ( 7-10X) of the minimum wage. Further, impose a tax surcharge (50%) to the corporation on any compensation paid out in excess of a slightly higher multiple (15-20X) of the minimum wage. The minimum wage is better than a company’s average or some other statistical compilation because it is what it is. It cannot be fudged. I wonder how quickly the minimum wage would become a living wage under a law like this.
“As inequality breeds oligarchy?”
Really? That’s a done deal. We’ve had an oligarchy with the thin veneer of democracy for decades.
Better to raise the minimum wage than to increase the earned income tax credit.
They forgot to include the National Minimum Income, which would be indexed to inflation and be enough for a person to not be homeless, hungry, uneducated, or unable to find a job. You know, that human rights thing…
Exactly, ThaumaTechnician, in the News we are consistently deprived of Context, always to our disadvantage.