Archive for January, 2013

The Hidden Prosperity of the Poor | The New York Times

By Thomas B. Edsall

A concept promulgated by the right — the notion of the hidden prosperity of the poor — underpins the conservative take on the ongoing debate over rising inequality.

The political right uses this concept to undermine the argument made by liberals that the increasingly unequal distribution of income poses a danger to the social fabric as well as to the American economy.

President Obama forcefully articulated the case from the left in an address on Dec. 6, 2011 at Osawatomie High School in Kansas:

This kind of gaping inequality gives lie to the promise that’s at the very heart of America: that this is a place where you can make it if you try. We tell people — we tell our kids — that in this country, even if you’re born with nothing, work hard and you can get into the middle class. We tell them that your children will have a chance to do even better than you do. That’s why immigrants from around the world historically have flocked to our shores.

Read this detailed take on inequality from The New York Times.

Countering the Emptiness

In this nation I see tens of millions of its citizens—a substantial part of its whole population—who at this very moment are denied the greater part of what the very lowest standards of today call the necessities of life. I see millions of families trying to live on incomes so meager that the pall of family disaster hangs over them day by day. I see millions whose daily lives in city and on farm continue under conditions labeled indecent by a so-called polite society half a century ago. I see millions denied education, recreation, and the opportunity to better their lot and the lot of their children. I see millions lacking the means to buy the products of farm and factory and by their poverty denying work and productiveness to many other millions. I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished.”

 – FDR’s Second Inaugural Address, January 20, 1937 –

What really has changed 76 years later except that this deplorable statistic has gone from 33 to the 47 percent called out in last November’s election cycle?  Even worse, America’s suffocating and selfish pursuit of wealth inequality has created the highest percentage of absentee ownership since pre-colonial times when European monarchs claimed vast swaths of a relatively uninhabited new world because they could. Today, instead of drawing from its emancipating and egalitarian historical roots to nourish a vibrant middle class ownership society, America competes with authoritarian command and control economies such as China in a global race to determine which culture produces more self-serving and self-reinforcing oligarchs and oligopolies. The worst of these, in turn, conspire to buy elections, park their wealth in overseas tax havens, practice global labor arbitrage with impunity, and then target local government subsistence programs for political extinction.

After four decades of factory outsourcing, American cities and outlying rural regions burned by such a protracted economic genocide siege now face perennial cold winters of geographical inequality exacerbated by societal climate change without cultural transformation. (more…)

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