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.

http://inequality.org/happiness-and-inequality-study/

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

http://mediamatters.org/mmtv/201108250029

http://crooksandliars.com/david-neiwert/wealthy-fox-pundit-stuart-varney-rem

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.

About Laura Wells: Solutions
I ran for Controller in California in 2014 on a State Bank and Tax The Rich platform. I am part of the “No Corporate Money” Campaign, in which candidates pledge to take no corporate money and voters declare our intention to vote for no-corporate-money candidates. As a Green Party candidate for Governor of California in 2010, I was arrested outside a gubernatorial debate for “trespassing at a private party.” But we won't stop, and so let's create a "public party" where we debate solutions to California's finances, like implementing a State Bank and taxing the rich -- to reduce the disparity and open up opportunities. Twitter: @LauraWellsCA

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