“This is a great country. You never know where our heroes will come from.” – Will Rogers, 7 June 1933
One of the great things about this country is that anyone who is fortunately enough to have just the right circumstances come about can be a hero for future generations. Many have sports heroes who they admire for their ability to do a particular thing like putting a ball into a hole, hitting it with a stick, throwing it to a teammate. I can’t say that any of those qualities make someone a hero to me. But to each his own when it comes to heroes.
My heroes are more of the intellectual or humanitarian nature. Obviously, to anyone who has read much of this post knows that Will Rogers, Thomas Jefferson, Woodrow Wilson, John Steinbeck, and Gandhi are among my heroes. This group range across the spectrum as far as wealth and influence go. Some came from poverty, some from privileged classes. Most just went about their daily business with other people’s welfare in mind. Those are my kind of heroes.
I, like many others, have become a big fan of the british TV series entitled “Downton Abbey”. It is a story about an early twentieth century aristocratic family and all the “commoners” who served them. The intertwining of all their lives is what makes the show endearing. I must admit that I am an antagonist when it comes to a privileged classes especially inherited wealth. So, it somewhat surprised me to be attracted to this show.
Even up until recently many of the countries in Europe were very class oriented. That is if you were born into a particular class that is where you stayed for your life. Moving outside of your class was just unheard of in those days. I’m sure this continues to some extent even today but I think it is quickly disappearing; at least I hope it is.
The United States is a country that has always been about opportunity for all. Anyone can go as far as their drive, ambition, and intellect allow them. That is what makes this country great. I am troubled by the current trends toward aristocracy in this country that is taking place due to inherited wealth. The top one-percent of the population control a very large percentage of the wealth of the country. This troubles me greatly some times.
The difference between our rich and poor grows greater every year. Our distribution of wealth is getting more uneven all the time. . . . A man can make a million over night and he is on every page in the morning. But it never tells you who give up the million he got. You can’t get money without taking it from somebody. – 1 June 1930 Will Rogers
As Will points out here the difference between the rich and the poor has always been greater than many of us would like to see but I really don’t think in Will’s day it was even remotely as wide a gap as it is today. The latest statistics show that there is about $58 trillion of wealth in the U.S. But as the chart to the right shows 80% of the population controls only 7% of the wealth. That is about $10,000 per person for 80% of us. The top 1% average $7,000,000/person.
But as Will further points out that there is just so much wealth that can be owned. There has been a twenty fold increase in billionaire in the last twenty years. In order for the money to come to them it had to come from someone else. Of course we all know where it came from. It came for the wages and benefits of the 80% that have actually decreased over that same period of time.
I’m not a financial wizard but it really doesn’t seem like rocket science to me to understand that if we want to grow our GDP we must have citizens who have the money to buy additional goods and services. The 1% can only buy so many jets and yachts. In fact most of their increased wealth is likely just sitting in off-shore accounts accumulating interest. When the elite among us insist on stagnating wages there are no additional resources to grow our economy. It is a Catch-22 and that I can understand so why can’t the big shot economists in the gOp figure it out?
I have always been a person who is constantly saying “Why?” Here are some whys that have been spewing off the top of my head lately. :) They are too small for an entire post so I am just going to throw it out here and in no particular order:
- Why do fifteen percent of the population think they are in the top 1% ?– So there are fifty times more people worried that their taxes will go up if President Obama is re-elected. We all want to believe that we are somehow special but 1/6 of the population just won’t fit in the one percent tub. No way, no how…..
- Why don’t people understand that if you want to live like a Republican you must vote like a Democrat? – It is a known fact that if you had invested $10,000 in only Republican administrations for the last eighty years it would now be worth $11,733. If you had invested in only Democratic administrations it would be worth $300,671! (source Wolfram Blog : Stock Market Returns by Presidential Party.) So why do all the money hungry folks continue to align with the Republican party?
- Why do so many women seem to want to be six inches taller than the height God gave them? –This trend toward wearing six-inch heels really confuses me. I believe that women have come a long ways in the past few decades. They have asserted themselves in the business world. They are now the primary earner in many families. There are now many shows on TV where they are in charge now. You certainly didn’t see that even a decade ago. So why do so many women continue to fall in line with the latest fads no matter how absurd they seem to be? I want to predict a huge increase in demand for podiatrists in the future to treat all those future bunions out there.
- The major focus of the country is currently on unemployment. It seems to be driving much of this political season. If you believe the hype everyone is either unemployed or underemployed in this country. But what happened this week seems to directly counter that belief. Across the country were millions of people standing hours in lines to pluck down up to $600 for a new iPhone5? It is obvious that not everyone has been affected by the economic downturn. Many if not most of the people in these long lines already have an iPhone 4 that is still very functional yet they have enough disposable income to update to the latest thing. I just don’t understand it?? But then again in reality only one out of every twelve of us can’t find a job….
source: Whites Account for Under Half of Births in U.S. – NYTimes.com.
After years of speculation, estimates and projections, the Census Bureau has made it official: White births are no longer a majority in the United States.
I bet the racist blogs this morning are white-hot, pun intended, talking about this article! But for myself I say it is about time. I think that our strongest point as a nation is our diversity. We generally don’t have one segment of society having total say on the rest of us. Now I am not inferring that the tyranny of the majority doesn’t, or hasn’t, reared its ugly head in the U.S. but generally those periods are eventually overthrown by the vote.
Just look at other countries to see the fierce partisan divide between Sunni and Shiite, between Muslims and Jews, between this or that. We in the U.S. are just too diverse now for that to happen. There is one caveat to that however and that is the growing disparity between the 1% who currently control the vast majority of the wealth and the other 99% of us. I am confident that some day this grossly imbalanced fact will the ameliorated hopefully by the vote and not by violence.
We as a country celebrate our diversity as we rightly should. Let us pray that the partisan divide that is so visible in other countries never happens here again. Let us remember that we are now all minorities in our great country.
What is a culture, the non-medical kind that is? The best definition I could find in relation to this post is:
a particular form or stage of civilization, as that of a certain nation or period
I was recently introduced to the term “the culture of viciousness” and was immediately struck by its seemingly accurate description of our current times here in the U.S. and perhaps the world as a whole. The most appropriate term to describe what is going on in congress and in much of the country is viciousness. The way we seem to treat each other lately is very saddening indeed! Have we turned permanently to the dark side of civilization? I hope there is a way out of this current trend.
It is totally perplexing to me as to why we got to this state of affairs but I believe that it stems from the fact that the average everyday guy is just tired of running in place and still getting farther and farther behind.
- He has not seen a real raise in his income for twenty years.
- He sees the 1% get more and more each year while he gets less and less
- He sees statistics that show that he will be laid off or have to change jobs seven time in his working years.
- He wants to give his family many of the things he sees everyday on TV but can only do that by adding to his credit card debt and therefore digging himself deeper and deeper into a hole.
- Maybe most importantly he looks at his kids and can’t see that they will be any better off than him.
I don’t know if our current congress is mirroring this viciousness or just maybe the cause of it. Either way they are not setting an example for how we should be treating each other. The folks in congress are supposed to be our leaders and the wisest among us. Why aren’t they leading by example?
When Jesus, the foundation of our Christian establishment, was asked what is the most important he said to “Love God and to love your fellow man”. What we are doing today is the exact opposite of this. There seems to be very little love in any of us. How did we get into this state? But maybe more importantly how do we get out of it????
There is something about a Republican politician, they are smart but they just don’t know much. – July 4, 1934 Will Rogers
I’m totally convinced that Will would also include most of today’s Democrat politicians in this quote. I’m sure those yahoos in congress, or at least most of them, are pretty smart fellas when it comes to book learning. But when it comes to the everyday life of the common man I don’t think they know much.
I find it hard to believe that those in the top 1% , and that includes the majority of those in our congress, even have a clue as to what it feels like to have to choose between food and your medicine. They can’t begin to imagine the grief caused by being in the process of losing your home to the bank because you lost what you thought was a forever job. They can’t begin to understand what it is like to spend the rest of your life trying to pay the bills for just one major medical event when you don’t have, and cannot afford, insurance. Most of the folks who represent us in congress just have no idea of what our lives are really about.
The trouble is that it seems impossible to get anyone with any amount of understanding about our everyday issues into Washington DC. The money required to buy an office in the Rayburn building is just beyond the means of most of us.
We have to realize that even though we rile against the rich that it is the rich who for the most part control our destinies and that includes government actions. It used to be that one-man-one-vote evened the playing field a little bit but the recent Supreme court decision even took that away from us. Now the one with the money controls the ballot box.
But what do I know….
source: Santorum Becomes Millionaire in Six Years After U.S. Senate Loss.
Since his 2006 re-election defeat, the former Pennsylvania lawmaker has gone from being one of the poorer members of the U.S. Senate to earning $1.3 million between January 2010 and August 2011. In 2007, he spent $2 million to buy a 5,000-square foot home in Great Falls, Virginia, according to property records.
Santorum’s financial rise was powered by consulting contracts with fuel producer Consol Energy Inc., faith advocacy group Clapham Group and American Continental Group, a Washington consultancy, as well as media engagements.
Is it really possible to diminish the influence of lobbies in our politics when so many in congress depend on them to get into the 1%? Take this example or if you like the $1.3 million paid to Gingrich for his history lessons. And of course if this isn’t enough you must remember that the Supreme Court in their conservative wisdom has decided that corporations can spend unlimited amounts of money to insure that their chosen candidates get elected! So now “our” representatives in congress can be bought and paid for at both ends of the process. Does anyone else see how wrong this is and how threatening it is to our fragile democracy. Yes, all democracies are fragile.
But what do I know….
Source: Mind the Gap | edsteinink.com.
Interesting story yesterday about how wide the economic gulf has become between members of Congress and their constituents. According to the New York Times, the median net worth of the folks in Congress grew 15 percent from 2004 to 2010, while the public saw its net worth drop 8 percent. Senators and representatives have always been richer than the average American, but the gap has grown precipitously in recent years. The average member of Congress has a net worth almost ten times that of the general public; half of all members are millionaires, and many are much, much wealthier than that. Why does this matter? Do you honestly sense that anyone in Washington genuinely empathizes with the people who are suffering in this economy? Does anyone there really understand what it’s like to lose a job, watch precious savings evaporate, be unable to afford health insurance, apply for job after job with no success, lose a home to foreclosure? You wouldn’t know it by the words and actions–or lack thereof–coming out of the nation’s capital.
I happened across Ed Stein’s website that contained comments about the editorial cartoon I posted last week. It seems that he does a pretty good job of investigating before he draws his cartoons. I certainly envy him for his talents and artistic abilities. I will be a regular reader of his blog in the future. Click on the source above to go there yourself. Thanks Ed for all your talents.