Friday, January 28, 2011


I just finished Aftershock by Robert Reich. His theory is that the growing gap between th very rich and the middle to poor Americans is growing and making our economy unsustainable. He says that since the 70s middle class has been using "coping mechanisms" to keep up with the Joneses. First they sent the mothers to work, then they worked more hours, finally they used debt. All the mechanisms are used to their limit. There's only two parents, there's only so many hours in the week to be worked, and credit has dried up.

He says that the rich have created a separate society with it's own social clubs, universities, and positions which the middle class have no access to. He shows that the bubble where allnthe Wallstreet bankers won at every turn is proof that the whole system is rigged against middle class.

The January/February issue of the Atlantic also has an article which says there are two economies. The article titled "the rise of the new ruling class- how the global elite is leaving you behind" by Chrystia Freeland.

Both authors have taken a good look at our world and drawn the same conclusions, namely that you can't change your stars. If your born into wealth and privilege your set, if not you'll struggle for your daily bread.

Reich's solution is government enforced redistribution of wealth by taxing highly income over 250k and placing money into people's pay checks who make less than 50k a year.

So the only question left on the table is does any of this matter?

Farmers in the developing world are using texting to get market prices and weather tips to increase their profits. Small businesses owners can start their dream company with little start up costs using web 2.0/cloud computing services. People who have been repressed for decades are using social media to organize on a nation wide basis and creating a new government. The world is unrecognizable if we look at the level of inexpensive communication we now have access to.

Yes, the world isn't fair. But has it ever been? I am reminded of the middle ages. Talk about not being able to change your stars!

Yes, we can aim for more equality, but I strongly don't think government redistribution of wealth is the answer. Also telling people that because they were born poor that the system is against them and there is no hope isn't a helpful strategy.

Take me for example. My family has nine kids. My father is a minister at a small church. At one point we had to get food stamps. We wore clothes donated to our church in large garbage bags. Us kids would gather around the bags with the same excitement as Christmas morning. I got my GED when I was 17 after finishing the 10th grade in home school. I was a maid in a bed and breakfast. If you showed my case to Reich no doubt he'd tell me my prospects were doubtful for success.

But a few things helped me which I think can help anyone in my "doubtful" position.
1. I read alot which made me realize how many possibilities exist and that more doubtful cases than mine have made it I.e. Lincoln.
2. My mother said I could do anything. She always believed in me.
3. I got a pell grant to go to community college. I believe that gov assistence for college is very effective. I am happy to allow my tax dollars to help those who are serious about their future.
4. Mentors in every aspect of my life who gave me advice and showed me the way. These folks are too numerous to name and yet they live in my heart forever. I make it my mission to mentor those I can to pay the debt forward.

These are the ways to level the playing field. It's hard to keep a determined person down, especially when they have a large support base who believes in them. Spread the word. The world needs more hope, and each of us can make a difference.

1 comment:

  1. I agree that you if you want to change your situation, you can. This country has lots of opportunities if you just know where to look for them. Others come here from other countries and take advantage so why dont we? I think that Americans have been sitting back and taking for granted the hard work that the generations before us did. We are now declining in the world community-children are not well educated as their counter parts in other countries which in 20-30 years maybe put America in a less desirable position. It is hard to get to the top but staying here is just as hard. So bring on the education-have the teachers but also provide the motativion needed to get this country moving again. It has been 50 years since President John F. Kennedy shared in his speech "ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country", I dont think he wanted to imply that we dont use our resoures to help with education, but to give back to the country that has given us so much. I think the best way is to take advantage of pell grants, student loan, grants, what ever it takes and bring that education level back to the best that we can be.