There are a few arguments I hear over and again whenever economic and environmental justice is discussed. The proponents of unrestrained capitalism (and it always depresses me how many of its victims are in that category) will often ask me “why shouldn’t the wealthy want more money?” As if it were there desires and not their actions I was calling into question. “It’s good for the economy” is one that also often comes up, but I find myself asking “whose economy?”
Because it certainly is not the rest of ours. No the 99 percent get none of that boom in the Dow Jones or NYSE activity. That money is strictly for the one percent, and the rest of us are supposed to be happy for them. The more they make, the less they share, and the more obvious it becomes, but some people either like to be abused or really think that the masters of finance will actually through them some scraps. Too many Americans equate wealth with hard work despite the evidence that most of the one percent acquired theirs through inheritance and family connections.
And even if it was from hard work, so what? Does that give them the right to ignore the fact that they are part of a larger society that gave them the opportunity to turn that work into capital? Does that give them the right to poison our air, land, and water? Does give them the right to squash the rights of others, including the right to organize for a better deal? How do you become so enamored of the powerful that you are willing to sacrifice your well-being, and the well-being of your loved ones and neighbors, for their bottom line?
For the record, I do not begrudge the wealthy their gigantic bank accounts. I think it is a bit silly to acquire more wealth than you or your children can use, but so long as you do not do so at the expense of your larger community, more power to you. So, yeah, go ahead grab more for yourself. But the rest of us have a right, no, a responsibility, to ourselves. We are not less simply because we have less, and we are just as allowed to use the power of the ballot box to make sure our needs are taken care of. We have at least as much a right to limit your substantial power as you have a right to exercise it.
There will be some who will cry that my ideas, and those of people like me, constitute class war. Well, guess what? We are already in a class war. It is a conflict in which the casualties, at least in this country, have all been on one side. I do not get how anyone can believe their inconvenience (higher taxes) outweighs another persons suffering, or death.
I have news for you: it does not. Thirty years of trickle down and deregulation have created a wealth gap comparable to that of feudal Europe. This is more than just an imbalance in numbers. It not just unfair because some people have a bigger piece of the pie, it is unfair because people are hurt by it. Children die of malnutrition and treatable diseases in the wealthiest nation on Earth. Working families go without homes. The elderly that have paid into a system all their life find themselves without adequate care because that system has been gutted. All so a few families can watch their portfolios grow.
Each of those deaths is on the hands of those that have propped up this system. It would be easy to blame only one party but we know that is not true. Hundreds of thousands now dead prematurely in that time because they could not eat for lack of food, could not get treatment due to lack of medicine, or could not breathe because we have poisoned the air. All in the name of strengthening the economy. Each of those deaths stain you, if you have fought for this system. They stain you if you buy into the idea that the “nice” party that has done as much to increase the power of the wealthy as the “mean” one. They stain you if you have sat idly by while your neighbors wither away. They stain us all for not doing our part, and for not questioning the philosophy of “capital über alles” and some stains just don’t wash out.
- Where the Hell Is the Outrage? (commondreams.org)
- What Would You Have the President Do? Part III, Doing Some Economic and Social Justice (correntewire.com)
- Fighting for Economic Justice: My Summer as Part of the Jubilee Movement (jubileeusa.typepad.com)
- A Challenge for the Left: Unite & Defeat Austerity by Carl Bloice (zcommunications.org)