Posted by Bob Lord
I've never considered myself a single issue person / voter / blogger. But I'm admittedly headed in that direction. It's not that I don't care about other issues. I just feel that we've reached the point where if nothing is done to stop, then reverse, the concentration of wealth and income at the top, not much else will matter.
Think of how a game of Monopoly progresses. At the outset, all players are equal, each with $1,500 of wealth. In the early stages of the game, all players acquire wealth, with some progressing faster than others. But even the players who are not landing on the choice squares still are making more money passing go for $200 than they are having to spend. At some point, however, the game crosses a threshold after which the successful players are acquiring more wealth at the expense of other players than those players are able to generate. That's when life gets ugly, player by player, until only one remains.
As I see it, America has crossed that threshold into ugliness.
A recent Pew Research study shows that the wealth of the top 7% increased substantially while the wealth of the bottom 93% declined. When you see social security benefits cut so we can maintain low tax rates for those at the top, you're seeing wealth move from the many to the few. We're now entering the stage where the wealthy systematically plunder the little wealth the rest of us still possess.
If left unchecked, wealth begets wealth. When the Monopoly game started in the Reagan era (or perhaps shortly before), the wealthy were acquiring wealth, but the rest of us were able to make modest gains. We're now to the point that the tribute we're forced to pay to the wealthy (think, exorbitant credit card interest rates, collapsing home values, giant incomes to Wall Street money manipulators, bloated health care costs) destroys the meager ability we previously had to accumulate wealth. And as the wealthy and their pawns in Congress and state legislatures continue to shred the safety net, it will only get worse.
Inequality is where my decades of work as a tax lawyer, my experience as a Congressional candidate, my compulsive reading habits, and the "numbers guy" in me all collide to create what for me is a crystal clear vision of wealth becoming ever more concentrated at the top and life for the rest of us growing ever more difficult. It's hard to pay attention to much else.