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Member since: Thu May 8, 2008, 03:38 PM
Number of posts: 768

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What the Rich Always Say

When faced with income inequality questions. There are a number of responses.

HRC just faced that question in regard to the amount of money she made recently from speeches.

Her answer was to say what all rich people say: paraphrased it was something like The American People like success, they just dont want people to pull up the ladders after they are successful. We want everyone to have that success.

This is pure cop out on the question of inequality. The fact is I think most people do and should begrudge the quality of the reward given for the type of "success" she was talking about. One of the major problems with our country and its economics is that it is all about top level success and unlimited rewards for that type of success versus the lack of a decent life for the people who either have problems or do not stand out.

This disparity between success and failure is a big part of what we mean when we think of income inequality. This aspect is reflected in those great recent studies comparing peoples views of ideal distribution, actual distribution, and how they think wealth and income is currently distributed. In those studies, most Americans have no idea of the actual wealth distribution of the Country. I think this is partially understandable. From our earliest days we are taught an economic model that is based on unlimited potential and growth. It is hard for humans to deal with adverse facts that such models do not work when presented with reality. We have cognitive dissonance on areas where such models do not work such as income inequality and global climate change.

I will give HRC credit in one area. She hit on the right words for what our goals should be. For years, the corporate capitalist meme in addressing inequality has been "equal opportunity". However, as a logical construct, you could have inequality and yet have it be equal. Everyone has a chance to be one of the 1% who own everything, the rest just get to have nothing. However, everyone has an equal opportunity to be one of the elites.

In her speech, HRC used the phrase "shared prosperity" which i think is a much better goal for progressive people. It is not about mobility or opportunity or success, it really is about sharing our economic prosperity as computers, trade, increased productivity remove american workers from the wealth building equation.

However, you are not sharing prosperity if you then give the standard form answer about success and ladders. Such answers to shared prosperity have been used for years but are absolutely devoid of any content or solution. We can not reward all of society the way the 1% is rewarded in this Country. Leaving ladders in place so a few can have a good life is not the answer. Shared prosperity is not about competition for a few success slots. It should not be the goal to have all of our children compete to be one of those 1% successful people. Shared prosperity should mean what the words connote. We all share in the progress of our economic system in producing goods and services that increase quality of life for human beings.

The problem I have with HRC is I think that competition is exactly what she thinks shared prosperity means.
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