The last words my father spoke to me before he died in 1996 was, [“Gregor], somebody is going to have to do something to help the poor.”
Fast forward to 2017. Never has the wealth gap in America been so wide. This creates the initial conditions for a very uncertain and potentially unstable and explosive political and economic future.
I just woke up, for example, to see these two articles juxatposed on my news aggregator.
One article is about how 13 million American children go to bed hungry every night and the other is about the 1 percenters, who are now taking helicopters to their Hampton summer homes to avoid traffic. What in the hell is happening to our country?
Average wealth has increased over the past 50 years, but it has not grown equally for all groups. Between 1963 and 2013, families near the bottom of the wealth distribution (those at the 10th percentile) went from having no wealth on average to being about $2,000 in debt, those in the middle roughly doubled their wealth—mostly between 1963 and 1983, families near the top (at the 90th percentile) saw their wealth quadruple, and the wealth of those at the 99th percentile—in other words, those wealthier than 99 percent of all families—grew sixfold. – Urban Institute
The current data is much worse as the above doesn’t take into account the massive runup in asset prices over the past 3 1/2 years.
Philanthropic 1 Percenters, But……..
I know many 1 percenters who are great and generous people and give so much in an effort reduce poverty. Paul Tudor Jones’ Robin Hood Foundation, for example, is God’s work. Though they make a difference in many individual lives, these good works can only go so far and only make just a small dent in the problem of our vanishing middle class and increasing American poverty rate.
It’s the policies, Stupid!
The kumbaya moment Congress is now experiencing after the shooting of its Republican congressional members last week now needs to be translated into action.
Policy changes are imperative if we are going to really — first, we must decide if we want to — make a change. It’s time to move away from the ugly and tired dialectic of “tax cuts for the rich and government help for the poor.” Everything must change.
Creative public policy and a change of thinking are the only hope, comrades.
Here is one example,
The United States exports more food than any other country in the world. So why do families with children have trouble getting enough food in such a prosperous nation?
“The non-politcal answer, to me, is greed and government,” Stallings said.
“There’s too many government health restrictions that force restaurants to throw away food” instead of donating it to the needy. “It’s also greed: We’re not helping our neighbors.” -Bryan Stallings, CNN
Wow! We trash 40 percent of the food we produce.
Lessons From The Godfather
Special interests will surely stand in the way of the much needed new policy thinking/making, including from reforming education to allowing restaurants to donate their food to the needy, for example. So how do we deal with them?
Take a lesson from the Godfather and mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, when he was Chief of Staff for President Obama and negotiating the bailout of the auto companies. Some in the bailout group raised concerns about pushback from the United Auto Workers.
To which the Godfather replied,
F$*K the UAW – Rahm Emanuel
To which we say,
F$*K the Special Interests – Global Macro Monitor
My God, we are talking about hungry children, for Pete’s sake.
Happy Father’s Day