COMMENTARY: In Disparity We Trust



Theodore-RooseveltBY WILLIAM C. HENRY Guess what country you’re in: 20% of income goes to the top 1%; nearly 50% of income growth goes to the top 1%. Here’s a hint: 0.1% of the population control as much wealth as the poorest 90%. I know, you had it figured it out before you got to the semicolon. So, let me ask you this, did these little factoids at least raise an eyebrow? I admit that they may not have shocked me, but they damn sure stirred my undivided attention. As a matter of fact, I’m thinking their disclosure ought to be made “pre-vote proof of understanding mandatory.” What is pretty shocking to me is the fact that the political party responsible these odiums has never made any bones about its unabashed preference for — and quid pro quo reliance uponthe wealthiest among us. In fact, when you add these abhorrences to the list of race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender prejudices the G. O. P. has so cunningly manipulated over the past half century, you have to wonder why a political party whose primary impetus has been a barely veiled desire to celebrate and sustain America’s shameful spectacle of deplorable economic disparity would ever receive so much as a single vote in any election from America’s perilously overlooked and under-funded 99%.

Did you know that the world’s richest 1% are forecast to own more that 50% of the planet’s wealth by 2016! That’s NEXT YEAR, folks! So, have we finally reached the endgame of all this avarice, greed and selfishness? In fact, realizing that the basic tenets of the Republican party haven’t changed over the past 50 years, is it even possible to reverse direction? Unlikely. Between the 1%’s insatiable greed and the power-at-any-cost complicity of its political representation, the remaining have no doubt been doomed from the start. Let’s face it, an entrenched American plutocracy is a nearly unvanquishable foe — especially once its media joins the fray. Not only have they amassed almost all of the gold, they control all of the means of manufacture for all of the really big guns!

Unlike the extreme corruption, inequality and all around calamity that unfettered capitalism — with a little help from its political friends — inevitably produces, America believed it had designed a version that could avoid just such a fate. But by 1980 our President, Congress and the country’s monied elite had decided that enough was enough and it was time to put an end to any such altruism. Needless to say, they were able to get disparity’s millstone turning again and it continued to grind right up until 1993 when a fellow by the name of Clinton decided that we were obviously sailing in the wrong direction and decided on a different tack. Sure enough, as truth will out, in no time at all a multitude of positive economic realities arose to clearly and justly distinguish Bubba’s equitable tax policies and consequent era of unprecedented economic growth from the trickle-down bullshit that had preceded, and for damn sure, followed them.

How many times have we heard that if we don’t kowtow to the uber avaricious, they’ll lose their incentive for enterprise and innovation — and at least a dozen other variations on that same old worn out theme. Well, first off, you can discount the entire segment with dynastic wealth simply because they’ve never worked a day in their lives and wouldn’t know the difference. But the greedy ones, the clawers and the scratchers, the really competitive ones? Not a chance. That portion have it in their genes to accumulate and exercise wealth and power and will stop at literally nothing in order to do so. Period. Hell, wild horses or a 90% tax or even the Justice Department (okay, I’ll grant you that that’s a poor choice), couldn’t hold them back. Worrying about the “welfare” of the ultra greedy is like being despondent over the fact that Attila the Hun failed to take his vitamins before setting out. The phoniness of it all is palpable.

I doubt that any individual living or dead has ever summed up the totality of the Republican party’s plutocratic political philosophy more succinctly or more accurately than did Ziad K. Abdelnour — a noted modern day Wall Street corrupter — when he authored these words in his book, Economic Warfare: Secrets of Wealth Creation in the Age of Welfare Politics: “How can wealth persuade poverty to use its political freedom to keep wealth in power? Here lies the whole art of Conservative politics.” Congratulations, Zaid, you nailed it! Incidentally, was it just an affluence engendered brain-freeze kind of thing, or did you actually intend for it to land in print?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Fed up early stage septuagenarian who has actually been most of there and done most of that. Born and raised in the picturesque Pocono Mountains. Quite well educated. Very lucky to have been born into a well-schooled and somewhat prosperous family. Long divorced. One beautiful, brilliant daughter. Two far above average grandsons. Semi-retired (how does anyone manage to do it completely these days?) and fully-tired of bullshit. Uncle of the Editor-In-Chief.