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Why American politics is so mean

August 4, 2011

image credit to artist Toby Ng. You can see samples of his award-winning art and graphic design on his website at http://www.toby-ng.com

This graphic represents the population of the entire world, but the U.S. is no different. People inherently realize the truth of this graphic, and the 94 of us fighting over the 41% we allowed to own are getting restive. You 6 percenters should look out.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. August 4, 2011 9:32 am

    While I believe the graphic is accurate, I don’t understand why you consider those 6% who own more “mean”. And let me assure you that I’m one of those bottom 94%. In fact, I’m currently one of the bottom 20%.

    Did the 6% who own more take it from the 94%? If so, then they’re not just mean but thieves! Let’s not mince words. If they didn’t take it, then why begrudge them what they own? Would us 94% be any better off if the 6% simply disappeared tomorrow or never existed in the first place? Forgive me, but I don’t understand your point.

    Perhaps you believe wealth “just exists” and those that have more obviously took more than their fair share. If wealth did “just exist” you’d be correct. And I’d agree with you.

    But wealth is created. It isn’t something lying around waiting for someone to come along and pick up.

    Creating wealth requires a set of virtues. However, having those virtues does not guarantee that one will become a member of the 6% class. But not having them does guarantee they’ll remain one of the 94%.

    Granted, some of the 6% inherited what they have, but those are rare. Even if they did inherit their wealth, they didn’t take it from anyone. Whoever did initially create it thought, for whatever reason, to give it to them. As Bob Dylan once sang, “I can’t help it if I’m lucky”!

    And a few of those 6% acquired their wealth by unethical means such as using force & fraud. But those are rare also.

    We live in a country that allows us to pursue happiness. The key word is “pursue”. Not find.

    I have been – more than once – flat broke, unemployed, living on the streets homeless. I was not happy. But I was totally responsible for how I got there. And it may happen again. I’m doing everything I can to prevent it, but if it does happen it won’t be any fault of the 6%. It will be mine.

    Those homeless periods did me good in the sense that they woke me up. They forced me to develop a correct understanding of wealth. And by extension, the virtue of thrift. I realized I couldn’t predict the future and needed to live beneath my means in order to ride out unanticipated changes.

    When our current president was elected on a campaign of change, I sensed that the change he had in mind would not be conductive to the creation of wealth. My sense was based on small hints in the way he spoke; the words he used. He said things similar to your phrase “allowed to own”. His language indicated that he didn’t believe wealth was created. And absent a correct belief, I knew he would not understand how to correctly repair the situation.

    I immediately decided to reduce my “life overhead” as much as possible in anticipation that a hard rain’s a gonna fall. I vividly remembered my homeless days. If it turned out my decision was wrong then no harm. But I didn’t know for sure.

    I could brag about my foresight, but it took being homeless for me to learn about wealth and how it’s created. No amount of education or self-study would have done it. There really is no better teacher than experience.

    Many people, like I once did, have an incorrect understanding of wealth. I suspect this tough period we’re going through will provide the experience necessary for many of them to acquire a correct understanding. Not all, but some. And that’s the most positive spin I can put on the situation.

    But, of course, that’s just my opinion. I could be wrong and need to gain more experience myself. I hope not.

    • August 6, 2011 7:19 pm

      Nope, didn’t mean the 6% were mean. Just saying that it’s logical that our politics is mean because those of us in the 94% group realize that we’ve got an incredibly small piece of the pie to fight over between us.

    • August 6, 2011 8:41 pm

      “Did the 6% who own more take it from the 94%? If so, then they’re not just mean but thieves! Let’s not mince words.”

      OK, I won’t mince words. The UberWealthy did steal from the rest of us. They didn’t hold us up at gunpoint, no. They cleverly manipulated the tax code over 40 years, using politicians they bought and paid for.

      Warren Buffett pays less in taxes than his secretary. Hedge fund managers who make millions pay only 15% in taxes because they cleverly manipulated the tax code to consider their wages as capital gains instead of earnings. Wealthy corporations like G.E., Exxon and Google pay next to nothing in taxes through complicated legal wranglings. Tax shelters, itemized deductions on tax forms the average Joe Plumber can’t understand how to complete, blind trusts, offshore accounts, etc. The UberWealthy use all of these and more to avoid paying taxes on as much of their wealth as they possibly can.

      No, wealth doesn’t just exist. The UberWealthy or their forbears created it, and bully for them for doing so. But today they’re hanging on to a disproportionate amount of their wealth because they created a set of rules especially tailored in their favor. It’s unfair. It’s un-American.

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