Ever since the bitter struggle over raising this country’s debt ceiling, there has been an enormous amount of verbiage expressed over the 1% and the 99% as to who possesses the wealth of this country. It is referred to so frequently that it seems to have almost lost its meaning.
It doesn’t matter whether the figures are actually accurate. Do 1% of the people have the vast majority of wealth and the 99% get along with the remainder? Don’t get tied up on the math! There can be no doubt that there is an extraordinary concentration of wealth and therefore power in the hands of a very small portion of the American population. This situation existed throughout the 19th century but began to change when economic and social reforms were enacted in the 1930’s and for nearly half a century there was dramatic improvement in regards to the distribution of wealth in the United States. Regretfully, for the last twenty years we have been sliding back into that 19th century format which leaves such a sizable portion of the country in dire straits, desperately poor and terribly vulnerable while the wealthy 1% increased not only their wealth but the power that naturally comes with that wealth.
Whenever a political and economic system concentrates power and wealth in the hands of a small minority, it guarantees the existence of a permanent underclass whose members live without capacities of decent living, whether it be employment, housing, proper education and health care. In our democratic society, massive programs have been developed to respond to each one of these pressing needs, but the fact is that the concentration of wealth creates these problems and no amount or number of do-good organizations or programs are going to change that until there is a more equitable distribution of our nation’s economic production.
Regretfully, the history of the human family does not reflect many situations where the wealthy segment of a population freely steps forward to share its vast wealth with those who are in need. This usually does not happen at all and when it does, it is often brought about by a violent revolution. I thank God that our country has developed a system where we could develop a more equitable means of sharing the benefits of our extraordinary economic system, but in the summer of 2012, the scene is grim.