“How much inequality should a sane society tolerate?” Pizzigati asks this question in his article, “The Rich and the Rest.” As painful as it is to admit, we are not the idyllic society of our founding fathers sacrificing to make our country free. We are here now to make sure “we get ours” because we think we deserve it. We fear what we don't understand and act as if the person unlike us is out to get us, so we act rather than wait for the unknown to happen. What we deserve is an opportunity to improve our lives AND a responsibility to improve the lives of our neighbors. Anything less is a dishonor to our citizenship and we don’t deserve it.
We are stuck in the ‘game’ of getting ours, no one really opting to take less in order to improve the lives of many. So many suffer in the shuffle of the masses. Roosevelt’s answer was a 100% tax on all income above a certain level and he managed to get Congress to pass a 94% tax. But this law, of course, did not last.
Sports leagues have accepted salary caps and have a league minimum. Is it so impossible that this structure could be imposed on all of society? No CEO could earn a billion dollars, while the lowliest worker struggles to pay his mortgage. We walk blindly among the homeless and disavowed, and expect their forbearance for the harsh treatment delivered from a privileged few. Pizzigati argues “that may hardly seem likely in the current political environment, but political environments change?” Can we change? Do our current political leaders represent that change? Hardly!
With the current economic and political climate, I can’t help but wonder if we are not currently experiencing one of those changes now. Have we finally reached a ‘tipping point’ beyond aggressive self absorption exploding in violence toward our fellow man (Gladwell)? Are the voices going to raise and demand humane treatment? Why are we always waiting for someone else to solve our problems? We sacrifice so little and expect so much. Is this what our founding fathers had in mind? Is it time to again have another revolution--not one of weapons, but of words and understanding. I hope we have the chance. Until then, we wear ribbons.
Gladwell, M. (2000). The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make A Big Difference. New York: Brown.
Pizigati, S. (2000). The Rich and the Rest. In K. Finsterbusch (Ed.), Social Problems (pp. 64-67) Dubuque, Iowa: McGraw-Hill.
Jullens, J. (2008). “Marketers, Meet the Millennial Generation.” Strategy + Business. Retrieved 5 October 2008 from http://www.strategy-business.com/press/16635507/07115
Rheingold, H. (2003). Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution. Cambridge, MA: Basic Books, Incorporated.