Rather than bemoan the obvious inequities in our country – which I usually find myself doing – I thought I would raise a few hopeful points. Well, perhaps not gushingly hopeful, but slightly hopeful. What I find hopeful is that gradually, albeit ever so slowly, the American public is waking up to the reality that our democracy is morphing into an oligarchy – plutocracy – corpocracy. Furthermore, some perceptive folks are even beginning to realize that dollars hoarded, hidden and misappropriated here might be better spent there; namely, that our children might be better served if corporate and oligarchic America came under better scrutiny and regulation, and if inner-city at-risk families and children were provided with decent, perhaps even adequate, or perhaps even quality, schools.
Gradually, such articles are moving out of the so-called radical and liberal media and into the more mainstream sources. Even Time and Newsweek are noting that CEO pay has been a bit out of control. Gradually, we are seeing statistics reaching the light of day that show how out of whack things have become in America. For example,
1965 CEO to workers pay – 41:1
2003 – 419:1
The income of 400 billionaires now equals that of 57,000,000 households – 37,000,000 of which are below the poverty line.
From 1990 to 2004 increases in average real household income were as follows:
Bottom 90% + 2%
Top 1% +57%
Top 0.1% + 85%
Top .01% + 112%
And this latter stat comes to us from the New York Times. So we are beginning to see that the richest Americans are getting richer almost twice as fast as the rich and over fifty times as fast as 90% of Americans.
One stat about education: of the top tier colleges, 75% of the students come from the wealthiest 25% of America and 3% come from the bottom 25%. In effect, you are born rich, you stay rich; you are born poor, you stay poor.
But gradually, ever so gradually, the public is feeling this disparity itch, and with any leadership at all, perhaps voters will scratch. At least, topics such as offshore tax evasion, outright failure of people to pay their taxes, outrageous CEO salaries and ballooning corporate welfare are hitting presses and talk shows. Consciousness always precedes action. Perhaps we are seeing a new consciousness coming into focus. At least, there is some reason to hope so.