March 22, 2011
Wealth Concentration in America
Michael Moore, whose contribution to the issue was substantiated by Politifact.com, claims that the top 400 wealthiest Americans have more combined wealth than the bottom half of all Americans (about 155 million people). I've been aware of the information for some time and it's actually something that worries me a lot, especially because it will have impact on my children. As someone who once ran a hedge fund and probably could be a billionaire today except that I couldn't look at myself in a mirror anymore, I do not believe the disparity between the rich and poor in this country to be sustainable. The idea that a rising tide floats all boats is unadulterated BS, but that's only a small part of what I find disconcerting. The fact is no society has ever survived the kind of income disparity that exists in this country. Violent revolution is invariably the end result.
Looking at this issue through the lens of what recently happened in Wisconsin is also startling. While a governor there did much in his power to dismantle average Americans from exercising their abilities to bargain collectively, it was demonstrated that an extraordinarily wealthy family who had contributed to the governor's campaign (the Koch family) had unusual access to the policymaker.
And who is supporting this socio-political construct in which the poor get poorer and the rich get richer? It's conservatives, who derive much of their sustaining influence from fundamental Christian Tea Party loyalists. They do this by demanding reductions in taxes without corresponding reductions in military spending. I find this another example of how Christian Fundamentalism completely misses the mark of what Jesus had intended for His followers. Subsequent to Christ's crucifixion, many of the early members of His church lived communally with their wealth held in common. They were the few who wouldn't abadon cities when plagues struck. They took in abandoned children and shared what they had with the indigent. This was common practice, based upon Christ's earthly directives to feed the hungry and clothe the naked, until a kind of power-hungry orthodoxy took over and redefined the gospel.
I'm sure Jesus would be ashamed if He saw what is being advocated in His name today.
Posted by Alan Bahr