Disparity, Prosperity and Austerity

A TV report about “poor” people pointed out how many have refrigerators, TVs, computers, and cell phones. The report used quotation marks and sarcasm to say the “poor” aren’t really poor.

Wealth and poverty are not all about material stuff. More money helps make us happier up to a certain point, a point called “enough.” An increase in happiness affected by money comes from having enough for survival and health, options in life, comforts and even some luxuries.

It’s the Disparity, Sister

Who’s wealthy and who’s poor is not absolute, as we know from seeing how simply people live in most other parts of our world, even Europe. It seems people can be happy with less, if things are more equal.

But things are less and less equal. The global economy came tumbling down and government rewarded Wall Street with more prosperity, and threatened the rest of us with more austerity.

Solutions to the Disparity

A major weapon of mass distraction (on the list with divide-and-conquer, keep-them-busy, and reduce-their-options) is to keep us discouraged. I believe hope is an essential human nutrient, and we need to feed ourselves with hope so we have enough spirit and energy to keep going toward a better world.

The Wall Street bailout was the tip of the iceberg that leaders of our Titanic Parties are steering us into. The iceberg itself is an underwater mountain of government subsidies for the very wealthy.

We can change direction. There are many solutions. Here are three:

  1. Create a State Bank, a publicly-owned bank that will invest in our state, not Wall Street. State Banks partner with local banks and credit unions, and make good loans to homeowners, small businesses, and students.
  2. Stop subsidizing the rich, and rationalizing it by saying they create jobs. They haven’t, and they won’t. Tell the truth about it. Tax breaks for corporations do not create jobs. Local businesses create jobs.
  3. Implement fair taxes for a change. Our current tax system is much more upside down than is commonly realized, both in terms of type of taxes, rates of taxes, how they are administered, and who gets audited. If the richest 1% paid the same percentage of their income in state and local taxes as the lowest 20%, and they got audited as diligently as the rest of us, we would be on our way toward balanced budgets.

The rest of this blog on Disparity, Prosperity and Austerity will be links which are engaging and informing, and I believe, encouraging. There are solutions.

Here’s a link to research on the effects of the disparity.


Here are the “poor” people links, a one-minute video with Jon Stewart, and the full 3-minute piece from Fox TV.



Here is a link to information about state and local taxpayers from the California Budget Project.

http://www.cbp.org/publications/state_taxes_land.html – click on “Who Pays Taxes?”

Here are two books by David Cay Johnston, an investigative reporter.

Free lunch: how the wealthiest Americans enrich themselves at government expense (and stick you with the bill).  David Cay Johnston, New York: Portfolio, 2008.

Perfectly legal: the covert campaign to rig our tax system to benefit the super rich– and cheat everybody else.  David Cay Johnson. New York: Portfolio, 2003.


Solutions, or Rule by the Few?


In my first blog I said, “Who do I mean by they when I say they don’t want us to believe there are solutions?” I’m writing this blog on the morning of Labor Day 2011 to address that question.

For awhile I figured the word was simply “them.” It’s a word people use all the time; it means those few who are running the show. I recently heard it used on a radio program. The host was interviewing young black activists about their take on the Obama presidency, and the host related a conversation he had had. An African American father told the host that for the sake of his son, he was very glad the U.S. had elected a black man as president, but even so, the father understood Obama was “one of them.”

If we had a monarchy, we would know kings and queens together with their troops and agents were ruling us. We don’t have a monarchy; we have a democracy, but it still doesn’t feel like majority rule.

Louis Brandeis, a Supreme Court Judge, 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.”

“Elite” is a word often used to describe those few, but I reject that word. “Elite” brings with it the idea of “the best.” If they were the best, we’d be getting better and better in the areas of health, housing, education, environment, jobs, justice and peace. But those things are currently getting worse. In Latin America, where the balance of power is shifting toward majority rule, many people use the term “escualidos,” meaning squalid ones, rather than “elite” to refer to those who would keep all the power and wealth to themselves.

“Plutocracy” means rule by the rich. “Theocracy” means rule by religion. “Corporatocracy” has been invented to mean rule by corporations.

“Oligarchy” is the word I’m going for, simply rule by the few. While some may say it has too many syllables, it has exactly as many syllables as democracy, and the same number as Republican and Democratic. I know we can handle it.

The members of the oligarchy are not all rich, religious, military, or corporate. Who makes up the oligarchy: government or the private sector?  The answer is “Yes!” Leaders of the Democratic Party or the Republican Party? Again, the answer is “Yes!”

The oligarchy is government and private sector working together to benefit a few. Bipartisanship is the game they play to keep the system in place.

The next question that comes up is, “Why?” as in “Why would Washington turn toward wars and Wall Street rather than toward the people who voted them in?” A future blog will address that question, but for now it’s important to realize what’s going on.

We have an oligarchy, a few who rule. Ironically, they are the few who know how powerful we many are, more than we know it. They don’t want us to know bipartisanship is the game they play to keep the system in place; they don’t want us to know how powerful we really are; and they don’t want us to know that there are solutions.

But I’m smiling, because we’re learning.

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