Thursday, August 5, 2010

Charities Are In For A Windfall, The Rich Get Richer, And A Socialist Congressman Has Things To Say.

I just saw a short post over at Salon.com. The author, Robert Reich, talks about how great Warren Buffet and the Gates family both are. They've pledged vast sums of money to charity when they kick the bucket, and convinced a good chunk of other filthy rich people to do the same.

MSNBC reports that they've persuaded 40 billionaires to go in for this generous endeavor. That's very cool. But Reich is reminded just how bizarre it is to have people who are this wealthy:

"I’m also appalled at what this reveals about how much money is now concentrated in so few hands. It’s more evidence we’re back in the late 19th century when robber barons lorded over the economy and almost everyone else lost ground."

Read his post at Salon.com to see the numbers.
Didn't click? That's alright, here's the gist: The rich really are getting richer while everyone else is losing their shirts.

Most of that is probably old news to you. It might not even seem like a problem. But Bernie Sanders, our only self identifying Socialist senator, has a few neat factoids to add:

"Today, the top 1 percent of wage earners earn more income than the bottom 50 percent; and the top 1 percent has more wealth than the bottom 90 percent. "

Read the op-ed that quote is from over at Politico. It's mind blowing, and sort of infuriating. That sort of wealth disparity would give Adam Smith pause. It's an even greater problem when you consider that the the cost of living is so high, the legal system is so unjust, and campaign finance laws are making anything like democracy impossible. So what do we do? We stop pretending mildly redistributive tax policies are a dangerous part of the long road to communism, for starters.



2 comments:

  1. Hi Travis,

    The statistics that describe the wealth gap in the USA and worldwide are certainly staggering. Every time I do research on this subject, I'm blown away. For example: 1/2 of the world's population lives on less than $2 a day, while Latin America has the capacity to feed the whole world. A UN report from 2000 estimated that it would cost $40 billion to wipe out poverty, hunger, illiteracy, and give every human access to safe drinking water. As far as I can see, the resources exist to provide every human being on earth a decent standard of living exist, but the choices aren't made to do this. The wealth gap is a symptom of the natural flow of capitalism, an economic system that puts profits before all else, and the firms and individuals who control this capital are that wealthy 1%.

    Socialism, or the beginning of a description of it, would mean the democratization of the economy. Not from the top down, but from the bottom up, with workers working with community members both in small areas, but also in harmony across the globe, could organize the economy so that no human ever goes without access to shelter, food, water, health care, and education. This struggle would have to be international, and as such, we are part of an international called the Committee for a Workers International www.socialistworld.net. In addition it could advance the process of moving towards "green" energy production and greatly reduce the harm done to the environment.

    Socialist Alternative struggles to build working class power and democracy through the campaigns and coalitions we're involved in. For example, in Boston, we are working with others to build for an Oct 7 day of action to defend public education. This call came from California after the successful March 4 day of action. We are building this day among k-12 students, parents, and teachers, among higher education students, staff, and faculty and including anyone and everyone who may not fall into those categories. We are looking for people throughout the UMass system to work with, do you know of plans for Oct 7 in Amherst yet?

    Best,
    -Josh

    www.socialistalternative.org

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  2. Thanks for posting that Josh! I'll spotlight your response in the morning, along with perspectives from the Green Rainbow Party and the MA Libertarians.

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