I have been rather astonished and disappointed with all of the hullabaloo being made over the record highs achieved with the Dow, as though it were an accurate instrument measuring the financial success and stability of ALL Americans. This continued subscription to “trickle down economics” is part of the dark legacy of Ronald Reagan. This distorted view of economics does hold true…if you are standing in front of a Fun House mirror. Regardless of my own philosophy and my own political convictions, the unbiased truth is that the recent record highs of the Dow only demonstrate the exponentially increasing wealth of the top 10% of Americans.
I admit to having my own very conflicted feelings around money and about capitalism, so I will try to contain all of this article to just facts regarding wealth in the United States. I have to thank my friend Steve Joiner for inspiring me to write this.
First, let us divide the country into five sections of wealth: The Bottom 20%, The Second 20%, The Middle 20%, The Fourth 20%, and finally the top 20%. 92% of all Americans believe the distribution of wealth needs to be more equitable and distributed more fairly. Sadly, this same 92% of Americans’ perception of the actual distribution of wealth is far removed from the reality. The reality is that the bottom 40% of Americans have an infinitesimal portion of the distribution of wealth, while the top 1 % have more than the entire wealth that 9 out of 10 Americans believe the top 20% should have.
I will try to make this a bit more simple and understandable. Let us say the entire country has 100 people total. Of that 100 people, 60% of those people are either destitute, or struggling to make ends meet. Another 20% are doing well financially. The final 20% can be split up as follows: 18% are doing exceedingly well and controlling a great amount of wealth, but then the top 1% control so much wealth that it cannot be pictured on a simple bar graph of wealth due to its disproportionate size. For greater detail and so you can see the actual graphs, click here.
What can be done? We know that 92% of Americans want this inequality to change, so where do we begin? Here I have to thank my friend Bruce Kestelman for inspiring me to address Paul Ryan’s budget redux. Here is where the disparities in wealth have to become political and I have to call out bad behavior. Paul Ryan continues to offer a budget for the United States that only benefits the top 2% of Americans. Yes, he continues to beat the tired old drum of ending Medicare and gutting Medicaid and of course, lowering taxes on the very wealthy. Am I the only one nonplussed here? While claiming to be in alignment with “Catholic Values,” see what Catholics say in response to Ryan. How on earth does Ryan’s budget honor the social contract or social justice in any way? We can change the inequitable distribution of wealth with our votes. We can take power away from Paul Ryan and John Boehner by not voting for them!
I realize today is April Fool’s Day, but I regret to say this is not an April Fools joke. Well, sadly the joke is at the expense of the American people.