Who is Really Redistributing Our Wealth?

by Jeanette M. Rishell
(Manassas Park, Virginia )

Efforts by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and others to take away rights from American workers is part of a larger ongoing effort by the far right to funnel wealth upwards and away from working people across the country. We see taxes cut for the wealthiest Americans, while jobs and benefits for working people are reduced or cut.

This began decades ago. In the late 1970s the richest 1 percent of the country took in less than 9 percent of the nation's total income. In subsequent years income became concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. By 2007, the richest 1 percent took in 23.5 percent of total national income.

We have not seen this type of income disparity since immediately before the great depression. The share of total income going to the richest 1 percent of Americans peaked in both 1928 and in 2007, at over 23 percent. Worker's wages have pretty much flat-lined in comparison to the wealthiest few.

So when you look at our tax structure and where the money has gone, it is no surprise that we are underfunding our core services. The next time someone tells you that we have to make huge cuts because the money just isn't there; tell them the funding IS there, but it's just been vacuumed upwards to the stratospheric 1% of our society and out of reach of the majority of citizens.

The right wing has always accused Democrats and Progressives of wanting to "redistribute the wealth", but if you look at the facts, those in the right wing and the promoters of extreme free market ideology are themselves the ones who are redistributing the wealth and they have been doing it in a massive way.

Accompanying this income disparity has been a power shift. As wealth concentrated in fewer hands, politics has become what it was in the 1920s when people with great economic power had a larger influence in making the rules and regulations that shape economic policy. At a disadvantage are individual workers, unions, small businesses, and the smaller trade and professional organizations; all these are the backbone of our nation.

The super wealthy and the large trans-national corporations really do not care if any individual or small business "makes it" or falls by the wayside. And last on their agenda is strengthening the institutions that provide a stable society which is what enables them to maintain their wealth.

How much is enough for the wealthy? Many of us have read a children's book about giving a mouse a cookie and then the mouse wanting a glass of milk. Well, somewhere there's a select group of mice who want the whole cookie factory and majority ownership in all dairy farms to go with it. So the challenges we face are not just economic, but also contain a very large moral dimension.

We have seen workers bring their families out to rally for fairness, only to be called thugs. We have seen workers in Wisconsin agree to the governor's fiscal requests, and yet that was still not enough for him. The politically clever are trying to divide us yet again. This time the difference they are exploiting is between public workers and private workers. If they succeed in punishing the public sector, then their focus will turn to the private sector.

We should have great pride in the folks who have rallied in Wisconsin. They are trying to hold the line against the assault on the middle class and working people all over the country.

So the next time you hear of a rally, listen closely.

Is it a rally that tolerates corporations engaging in offshore tax abuse that drains billions from the US Treasury – making it impossible to use that revenue on infrastructure, core services, and greater lending to small businesses which create the majority of all jobs in the United States?

Is it a rally that condones the Wall Street greed that makes pension funds poorer and decreases the value of homes which for the most part are the net worth of individuals?

Is it a rally that promotes industry deregulation that makes us uncertain whether or not the peanut butter and eggs we consume are tainted, the cars we drive are safe or the ground water we drink is contaminated?

Listen closely! And then support the people who do rally for a voice in their future and for economic, social and environmental justice. Support the people who rally for the "general welfare" in a way that counteracts the winner-take-all, profit-grabbing environment that flows from short term thinking, which in the end has only ever made the rich even richer and the poor even poorer.


Here's some related articles on this site:

Christians and Economic Justice

Sin vs Righteousness in the Social and Political Spheres

What Should a Christian Church be Like?

Reason for the Decline of Liberal Churches

Prince William County Emergent Church

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