Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Rich Are Still Mostly Greedy

Rewind the clock 60 years.  There was a much smaller gap between the 1% and the rest of us.  The lives and well beings of workers was improving dramatically.  The wealthy were, however, doing just fine, much, much better than were workers even in those halcyon days of labor unions, responsible, regulated banks and when the wealthiest actually did create jobs and do good.

Today large numbers of the wealthy do not create so much as destroy (break contracts, lay off workers, extract profits and bankrupt companies and communities).  And yet, such is technological progress that even with the leaches at the top the less fortunate still have a higher standard of living compared with 60 years ago.  Food is cheaper.  Things that were luxury items are necessities, and items that didn't even exist are now commonplace.  A modern $1000 entertainment system transported back 60 years could probably fetch millions in 1950's dollars!  So maybe the wealthy today don't feel like they have things as good as 60 years ago despite their swollen coffers simply because it is so much cheaper to have a modest level of comfort.

Technology is doing what it is supposed to: it is improving everyone's standard of living.  The wealthy (Wall Street types in particular) are using this, however, as an excuse to take more for themselves.  This is what the Romney campaign is really about, as made clear in his video.  Imani makes the point at that link:
If you think for one second that just because The Poors™ may have a cell phone, or an Xbox, or a refrigerator (A FUCKING REFRIGERATOR!), or are unfortunate enough to get gout (because apparently only rich people get gout, doncha know!), that they are living high off the hog (as they try to raise a family of four on $20K per year), then you lack empathy for Americans; you lack respect for Americans...
Maybe the rich are angry because the standard of living for rich vs. poor was greater in the past even as the income disparity was less.  Maybe the great equalizer that is the internet--which has made many more wealthy--has allowed more knowledge and insight into other classes, so the masses can get justly angry at the means by which they acquired their means, and the mechanisms that they employ that wealth, and so the rich get angry because people now can find them out in a way that wasn't possible before.  Also, too, the rich who were so proud of their first flat screen TV 12 years ago that cost $10k see people earning $35k a year with a bigger, flatter television (which only cost them $700) so clearly the "poor" are better off.

In fact the major discrepancies today between rich and poor come down to health (care and prevention) and housing/property.  There are certainly differences in degree on things like travel, vacation, possessions (particularly high end cars, boats, and in some cases planes) but the major differences to living standards come in housing and health, the rest is just show.  

As bad as things seem today, and as much as many people look to days of yore as a model to what we could be, I would still rather be alive in my prime today. That doesn't mean we can't learn from then, but all of us really do have it better now.  The wealthy just don't seem to think that's fair.

No comments: