By Jeff Daiell
We will not – we will not be able to – reduce income inequality, much less net worth inequality, until we admit one thing: “socialism for the rich” is a redundancy.
You probably already realize this when it comes to corporate welfare. You might even realize this about government regulation of the economy, which is almost always written to benefit Big Business because it is written by individuals nominated and confirmed by politicians beholden to the corporatocracy.
You may, however, believe that programs such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, and unemployment insurance were created out of honest concern for the less fortunate. But think about it: if the legislators (at whatever level of government) who created those programs cared about the less fortunate, would they have passed the statutes, and confirmed the regulators, that have tilted our economic playing field so cruelly in favor of the already-wealthy and already-powerful?
Clearly not. No: to state things starkly, such programs were and are designed to forestall revolt. They keep those stomped to the bottom of the economic ladder by the governmental favoritism toward Big Business cited above placated enough that a rebellion (political or otherwise) will not break out. They are the equivalent of the Roman panem, the bread half of “bread and circuses”.
So the recipients of these crumbs, arrogantly tossed to the masses as children in the park scatter crumbs to the birds, are not the individuals anyone should malign; they often have no alternative to accepting this assistance other than wretched hardship, or even death, for themselves and/or their children. Rather, our anger should be directed at the government officials, the modern equivalent of the Roman emperors and patricians, whose creation and enlargement of corporate welfare and favoritism toward the powerful left them with only one way to save their political careers and stave off revolt: panem in its myriad modern forms.
Only when most Americans realize this, and realize that politicians and government regulation are friends only to the elites, will the reversal of the trend toward oligarchy begin. At that point, voters will demand an end to corporate welfare, demand an end to statutory and regulatory favoritism toward Big Business, demand the competition that a free and open market brings. Smaller firms, which are more labor-intensive than giant corporations, will be able to expand and compete better for both the trade of customers and the labor of job-seekers. By the iron law of supply and demand, prices will begin to drop, and wages to rise. Income inequality and net worth inequality can never be eliminated, but the yawning chasm between Americans at the top and Americans at the bottom will narrow, narrow again, and narrow again.
As smoking causes cancer, government interference in the market causes/exacerbates income inequality and net worth inequality … and, as with smoking, cessation of political control of our economic lives will bring reduction of the cancerous effects.