Thursday, March 3, 2011

Income disparity growing - what you need to know in a glance

Here is a graph you might just want to sit with, ponder, let this reality sink in:

This is all you need to know about what has been going on in US politics over the past 30 years.  The question it begs could not be more profound - what kind of world do we want to live in, to pass on to the next generation?

This didn't happen because the top 1% of the population worked harder or were so particularly bright, clever, ingenious. It happened by design, it happened at the table of institutions like the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, hedge funds board rooms, among billionaire investors with resources that outmatch the GDPs of entire nations. With their fortunes, they could buy up media (with cable news channels being particularly egregious examples), political campaigns, and politicians themselves. They could indeed make their claim at being 'Masters of the Universe.'  The rest of us?  Just not their problem or their concern.

The health of the planet?  Not if there is profit to be made by exploiting it.

I will tell you this - any politicians, any judge, any official that gets lots of support from that top 1%, or has worked for them (unless sincerely repentant of this past), or intends to work for them in the future, does not have in mind the best interests of the majority of people in the state or anywhere else in the world. We need to know this. We need to understand why the organized voices of workers, teachers, families, the 'folks,' is so vital to our well-being. An organized voice with millions of people behind it is one of the few instruments we have to push back against the stealing of our state's and our nation's wealth by this top 1%.

And that voice must resist efforts to divide it, or sow resentment within it. It must overcome racism. It must embrace the diversity of the populations it ought to include wholeheartedly - because we are all in this together. It must resist acting out of the rage and fear so many of us feel today because what is being proposed, and is likely to pass, by this governor and his colleagues in state government is going to be disastrous for the people of Wisconsin, for our precious environment, for the efforts of so many good people and social organizations that have been trying to address the injustices, suffering, and needs of our most vulnerable populations.

Stephen Colbert did a great satire on this on his show last night. He's always a bit on the rude/crude edge, so fair warning. On the other hand, with humor and satire, he absolutely nails it. So maybe we can laugh a bit as we weep. And maybe we can think about how we pull ourselves and our communities together to put forward a different vision of our future than the one outlined in the governor's budget address the other day.

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