This Week’s Mtg: Is Inequality a Ticking Time Bomb?

Ron’s idea.  Part I, on the rise of inequality, is this week.  Part II, “Are We an Oligarchy?” is next week 12/30 [UPDATE:  W-R-O-N-G!  Oligarchy is on January 20.].  I see them as two sides of a coin.  But, maybe this week is more about growing poverty and the erosion of the middle class, while next week  1/20 is about the rich — and their growing domination of our political system.

 

Background —

  • Poverty has risen to about 14%, including about 17% of children!  See here for a few facts on hardship in America.  
  • Middle Class:  The lower middle-class, while not officially poor, is in slow motion collapse, as unemployment among high-school graduates exceeds 15%, manufacturing jobs vanish, college costs grow out of reach, etc.
  • Inequality: The gap between the wealthiest 1% and the rest of us is at its highest level since 1929.  For an amazing snapshot of U.S. inequality, see these 15 Mind-Blowing Facts About Inequality In America
  • Yet, Americans seem to be in no mood to do anything about it.  Are we in a Deepening Moral Crisis, or is this not really that big a problem?

 

Discussion Questions

  1. How did this happen?  Was it natural/inevitable, or was it in our (political) control to prevent?  
  2. Is rising inequality really such a big deal, really a ticking time bomb?   Is it just fine that the rich keep getting richer, or are they now “claiming so much of the country’s total income growth that there is not enough left over for most families to see anything but sluggish growth?”   (Their political dominance is more next week for January 20)
  3. Is it, regardless, a moral crisis?  What is our moral responsibility here?  What political values should guide us?  Enlightened self-interest?  Christian ethics?  Ayn Rand novels?
  4. If we should do something about growing inequality, what should we do

See you Thursday.  If not, have a Merry Christmas!

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