Today there is an extreme level of wealth and income inequality in this nation and throughout much of the world. The Occupy Movement in the early 2010s, brutally dealt with by the FBI and other law enforcement, was successful in making this chasm a topic during its short existence. Even the corporate-dominated media could not completely ignore these huge gaps that Occupy clearly delineated. Although there has always been a large divide between the few obscenely wealthy and the rest of us, since 1970 it has been increasing, especially under the horrific neoliberal financial capitalism.
One wonders how the uber-wealthy have been able to continue growing this divide in the face of their small numbers compared to the rest of the population. In this country, these folks have been extremely successful in gaining generous benefits through the corrupt political system that condones legalized bribery. Lobbying and campaign contributions to PACs and candidates give the donor class (the wealthy and giant corporations) outsize influence on politicians.
In addition, the rest of the population is not united in pushing its economic interests. We are divided and kept in our political silos by differences on social issues. People on different sides of issues won’t talk to the other and often view their opinions with disdain. If we were not at economic risk, it’s likely that we would be less concerned about differences on social issues.
The corporate-controlled media, a tool of the uber-wealthy, plays a major role in dividing us. There is more discussion about abortion, guns, gays and immigrants than about economic issues. In comparison, there is little discussion about the wasteful and counterproductive U.S. military budget. More than half of the total U.S. discretionary budget goes to the military and our military spending is higher than the combined total of the seven nations with the next largest military budgets. In addition, since 9/11 none of the fighting the U.S. has been involved in has been necessary or for defense of the U.S. These U.S. attacks have been war crimes, incredibly destructive wars of choice, and created more enemies while destroying the idea of international law.
Since 2000 the uber-wealthy donors have received huge benefits through several tax law changes that primarily benefited them while vastly increasing the budget deficits and the national debt. In addition, after the 2008 Wall Street caused financial crisis, trillions of dollars were transferred to the super wealthy while millions of others lost their homes and their jobs.
Imagine how much good could be done by shifting much of the unnecessary military spending to domestic programs that are constructive instead of being destructive. What good could be done with money from a strongly progressive income tax and wealth tax? What good could be done with money from a carbon tax?
We could have programs that are available in other nations, such as health care for all, clean air and water, free education and a more expansive Social Security. We could rebuild our crumbling physical and social infrastructure. We could provide huge funding for energy conservation and renewable energy programs to slow and lessen the effects of climate catastrophe.
Unless we soon come together, I fear for the future of this country and the world.