Income inequality

English: Income inequality in the US

English: Income inequality in the US (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Income inequality is a danger to democracy and it makes social problems worse. In nations with great disparities in income, social problems, poverty, crime, drug use, etc., are worse than in nations with less income inequality. Great concentrations of wealth are a threat to democracy. Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court from 1916 to 1939, Louis Brandeis, said that you could have democracy or great concentrations of wealth, but not both at the same time. I agree. There are two models for the organization of society, the Democratic model and the Republican model. I support the Democratic model.

Under the Democratic model, income inequality is lessened by taxes and safety net programs. Republicans oppose both. I am not advocating total income equality. I am saying that having millions struggle to survive on or near the minimum wage while a few receive billions of dollars is morally wrong. In my opinion, no one is worth a billion dollars annually or cumulatively over a lifetime.

The Republican model is a patriarch one buttressed by religion. Not every Republican embraces this model, but the leadership of the party do as they channel the wishes of the 1%. Under the patriarch model, father knows best, children speak only when spoken to, women are silent and minorities know their place. Democracy is given only lip service at home and is used as a cover abroad to support the establishment of unregulated free market capitalism. Nominally Christian, the patriarch model worships profit, no matter how it is denominated, dollars, rubles, pesos or yen.

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Greed

The Price of Greed

The Price of Greed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In his book A Failure of Capitalism, Richard Posner denies that greed played a part in causing the Great Recession. I disagree. First let’s define greed as milking the system for excessive and undeserved income, as Mitt did with his 401K north of $100 million. In my opinion, no one is worth or deserves $100s millions or billions in income or net worth. It is true that $1 million doesn’t go as far as it used to, but $1 billion certainly does. Nations that don’t mimic our income inequality do not have the social problems that we do. We won’t solve all our problems with greater income equality, but we will lessen their severity as nations in Scandinavia prove.

The greatest danger of vast differences in income equality lies in the threat to our democratic institutions. Some people with vast wealth will use that wealth to buy favors from government that will increase their wealth at the expense of the rest of us. Louis Brandeis was better able to explain the pernicious effect of income inequality better than I can. He said that we could have democracy or vast concentrations of wealth, but not both at the same time. Please see Freedom and Supreme Court