Income Disparity

Is it my hang-up, or society’s, that we are so tolerant of poverty?

As is self-evident, Republicans are gung-ho on cutting taxes because there is very little that government does that they truly value. The bigger the gaps are in the safety net, the better it is for many Republicans. The less protection of the environment, the more freedom there is, particularly for abusers. The more unregulated the financial institutions are, the more opportunity there is to create “funny money,” and the poor will only get a piece of that when it becomes a known counterfeit commodity.

We talk about the value of having a bird’s eye view of our society. If you could fly over every nook and cranny of our country, swooning down when desirable to get a better look, what would you see as America’s greatest, and most obvious problems? Since your flyover would include observations of the hollars in Appalachia as well as the neighborhood of Chicago’s west and south sides, you would see the abject poverty that reflects how tens of millions of Americans live.

You would also fly over Hempstead, the North Shore of Chicago and Beverly Hills. To a reasonable person, it might appear that the residents have more wealth than is necessary to live a comfortable life. That is particularly so when compared to the squalor in which so many of the others who we have seen are forced to live.

So, the obvious question arises. How can a country of so much wealth have so much poverty in it midst? This seems like such an obvious question to me. But that may be the problem. I am projecting my vision of America on everyone else, whether they agree with me or not. I don’t like the presence of poverty in our society, but clearly for many more, it is either a minor inconvenience or a badge of honor representing that some people clearly have it better than others.

For those who subscribe to the Bible, there is a line about the meek inheriting the earth. I guess that like virtually every other line in the Bible, it has a throw-away factor; a shelf-life only as long as it is convenient for someone the believe, or at least, espouse it. So, if I’m hung up on the economic disparity in our society, it may be that this is my problem and I need to “get over it.”

Like most people, I can be fairly stubborn and don’t like to sacrifice my values on a whim. But this leaves me in a position where I’m quite distant from the American mainstream.

I can be a bit of a policy wonk, but what good is advocating a set of policies if the public does not back them? The only other option is to grab an inordinate amount of the levers of power as so many well-healed Republicans seem to have done.

I could try to be preacher and spread the gospel of income inequality. But I think that many of our problems are papered over because there is the “preacher-industrial complex” telling us what to think and do.

I guess that the answer is for me to own my problem and hope that in small ways, the logic of the undesirability of income inequality will prevail. I can take a knee for that.