Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Enough Already

 How much is enough? What's sufficient? These are questions not much puzzled over in the media or amongst the policy makers, but are arguably at the heart of the two largest challenges facing the human family - growing income inequality and climate and ecological destabilization.

Wall Street Bonuses: A Bottom-Up Take From: Too Much, April  2015


Thanks largely to the Occupy movement and the great work of folks like Sam Pizzigatti at
Too Much

it is now permissible to discuss in public the growing inequality that has been let loose since the actor/governor turned president road into Washington to "drown government in the bathtub".

Excessive - more than normal or proper

Exorbitant - exceeding the appropriate limits

Extravagant - exceeding the limits of reason or necessity

 Any of these words can be easily used to describe the growth in personal wealth unleashed since the 1980s.

The data is now so common as to be known by most of those inhaling and exhaling on a regular basis amongst us. Even the acceptance of those facts seems to be widespread and recognized as undesirable. Yet the resistance to remedies persists. Part of this cognitive dissonance is the result of the ether of our popular culture that we inhale daily, that makes us think we can simply grow our way out of this, as if we live on an infinite planet with infinite resources. Clearly, I don't think a PhD or even an high school education is necessary to recognize that, those with great wealth have more power - not just economic power, but political as well as media power. See Unheavenly Chorus: Unequal Political Voice and the Broken Promise of American Democracy if you doubt this for even a millisecond.
bookjacket

As I noted in a blog from last summer the highly recognized work by three leading political scientists provide 693 pages of evidence. Their evidence is compelling, but If that wouldn't provide sufficient research evidence try this.

"According to a new study from Princeton University, American democracy no longer exists. Using data from over 1,800 policy initiatives from 1981 to 2002, researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page concluded that rich, well-connected individuals on the political scene now steer the direction of the country, regardless of – or even against – the will of the majority of voters. America’s political system has transformed from a democracy into an oligarchy, where power is wielded by wealthy elites." So reports Ellen  Brown, founder of the Public Banking Institute in a recent post, "How America Became an Oligarchy"

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That this is true both within and beyond our nation's borders is also clear. If you've gotten this far and your not concerned, then read no further. But if like me you are concerned then consider some of the following possibilities.

1)  My first suggestion runs on sunlight. They say sunshine is the greatest disinfectant. So why not require every enterprise that employees humans to post annually the following information that we might all  see where the money goes:
  • Minimum salary for lowest paid full-time regular employee
  • Median income of all employees
  • Wage ratio from minimum regular full-time to highest paid employee
As citizens/consumers we could use that information in deciding whether to support the enterprise, with donations (nonprofits) or purchases (businesses) or votes (government).

2)    Restore the progressive tax system that was in place before the likes of Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and Bush opened the dikes for their financial supporters. If you want to be real progressive return rates to the Eisenhower days.

3)   Institute a Tobin type Tax on financial transactions. The tax should be regressive in relation to the time the money is held: the shorter the duration the higher the rate of tax. End the speculative instinct for frivolous profit.

4)  Provide incentives for for local purchasing from locally owned enterprises, especially those whose products are made locally and who are good community citizens.

5)   Make all donations to political activity transparent. No more hiding behind false fronts funded by anonymous benefactors.

Next time, an increasing list of "possibilities" for ending the obscene inequality that is destroying our democracy and the unraveling the ecological systems that provide the possibility of human life.

Yes Virginia, there are alternatives. And we've yet to tap the creative potential that lies dormant in the co-intelligence we share.