INEQUALITY.IS/REAL and it is destroying the fabric of all of our lives.
“A system cannot fail those it was never built to protect.” -Rihanna
“Inequality is the foundation of all injustice. America’s “socio-political & economic system” has always needed inequality to survive. It is not equipped or meant to protect everyone.” – Me
These words were tweeted on July 15th, 2013 on the heels of the verdict reached in the State of Florida vs. George Zimmerman trial. What underlies them is a truth that goes deeper than our judicial system and reaches back centuries to the founding of our country. They encompass our judicial, socio-political as well as our socio-economic truths. Inequality existing in any of these foundations allows it to permeate into the other pillars of our society. Is it a wonder to anyone that we are grappling with issues that other industrialized countries can no longer fully comprehend due to the changes that their citizenry have demanded from their seats of government which have resulted in some form of a social-market economy?
Is it a wonder to anyone that we find ourselves in this vacuum of social inequality because we put so much stock and, oft times, strict and blind faith in a constitution, declaration and bills of rights that humankind outgrew long ago?
How many realize that these documents which reflect the views, perspectives and goals of privileged wealthy and white men were written at a time when Blacks and Native Americans were not considered to be fully human and women were, in their eyes, solely and divinely ordained to be subservient by-products within male-dominated households and society?
How many realize that we, marginalized minorities and women, were never a part of the original equation and that our rights for opportunity and prosperity were never considered?
How many realize that our socio-economic form of capitalism can only function and prosper if there is a permanent and very large underclass whose opportunities must be occasionally “granted” but regulated, controlled and capped by any means necessary (overtly & covertly through the effective indoctrination of the conscience and subconscious of the general public) to ensure the health, wealth and prosperity of the ruling class?
How many realize we are living an American myth and that the America that we envision is one that cannot be attained through the socio-economic paradigm that currently exists because it is not structured to be merciful, inclusive, fair, mobile and nurturing for large parts of the population?
I hope that after you ask yourselves the questions listed above that you will take the time to explore Inequality.is/real which offers interesting income comparisons as well as provides wonderful resources for raising your awareness about the consequences of inequality (please see especially Fixable: Myth – Mobility). This interactive web tool, moreover, provides multifarious links to relevant articles, reports, trade agreements, institutes, etc. and, as a result, provides a fantastic springboard for broader and deeper research into the mechanics of inequality. Just click on the Help Fix This button which appears with each category listed on the Fixable page.
One of the links which pops up is the IPS Program link for Inequality.org which led me to the interactive Growing Apart: A Political History of American Inequality from which I extracted the following excepts:
On the decline of America’s economy and the justifications used to dismantle social programs:
- The conventional wisdom describes this collapse as an unfortunate but necessary response to changing economic conditions. The world has become a leaner and meaner and more competitive place, so the argument goes. As a result, the policies of the New Deal—and the costs they imposed on business—had to go.But there is little evidence to actually support this account. Indeed the initial handwringing over American economic decline came at a time when our principal competitors, Japan and Germany, boasted both higher wages and more expansive social programs than the United States.… Political choices, not economic necessity, dismantled the New Deal.
… the real policy goal of the pushback against the New Deal: a redistribution of income upwards via the erosion of the hard-earned bargaining power of ordinary Americans. Rising inequality was not a lamentable side effect of America’s new policy framework. Rising inequality was its intent.
On the negative effects of inequality on society at large:
- Citizens in unequal societies, researchers have shown, more likely end up sick, obese, unhappy, unsafe, or in jail. These social outcomes, in turn, undercut the productivity and efficiency of the economy as a whole, as the high costs of poor public health, heavy policing, and mass incarceration, siphon off our resources and leave our human capital underprepared and underutilized…Economic inequality breeds political inequality, whose highest goal, in turn, becomes those policies that make economic inequality even worse.
As I have written in several previous posts, I unequivocally believe that our socio-economic system must be changed if we are to allow all of our citizens to have equal opportunity and justice in every instance. In order to do so, Americans have to face reality and that includes the realization that we ARE NOT the greatest nation on this planet as proven
- by the abject poverty experienced in many parts of the country,
- by the unrelenting killings taking place throughout the country every single day, every single hour, every single minute,
- by infant mortality rates comparable to nations in the Third World in various parts of the nation,
- by the negligent state of our health care system,
- by the declining if not already decrepit state of our public educational system,
- by the numbers of those in mass incarceration,
- by the utter dysfunction and destruction being displayed in the halls of Congress and in state legislators,
- by the decline in living wages and productive employment opportunities,
- by the condition of the streets and bridges we rely on,
- by the gerrymandered representative majority that has been sent to Congress with a minority of votes, etc.
If we do not own up to the fact that our nation is not only in deep trouble but has fallen behind other industrialized nations on Earth in nearly every socio-economic category being researched, we will not change this system. And, as a result, we will never be able to reverse the social, racial and economic injustices that occur here.
Meanwhile, in Finland…
…and the rest of the world:
“We can either have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.” –Louis Brandeis, U.S. Supreme Court Justice (1856-1941)