Americans used to grow together. Now we are growing apart.
For three decades after World War II, every income class got ahead. The poor, middle class and rich all experienced income growth that outpaced inflation. Since then, the rich have gotten astronomically richer, the poor have become poorer, and the middle class is slowly but surely being exterminated.
Growing economic inequality produces political inequality. That intensified political inequality breeds even more economic inequality. The two feed off each other.
The youngest in our society are victimized most by this vicious cycle. They are being buried under a mountain of debt to get the education and training they need, only to find a scarcity of decent job opportunities when they go out in the work world. No wonder the Millennials are the only American generation to favor socialism to capitalism.
Generational discontent is not the greatest threat to American capitalism, however. An even bigger enemy of a free market economy is crony capitalism.
Our government spends substantially more on corporate welfare than it does on the social welfare programs that make up the proverbial safety net. We do not have a free market economy. We have a politically manipulated economy. Those with the capacity to buy politicians and own our government are able to make the public bear their economic risk while keeping the profits of their enterprises to themselves.
Against this backdrop, Democrats continue to gamely defend welfare for the less fortunate. Republicans and Democrats alike continue to fill the public trough to feed the rich. Blue Jean Nation believes we should focus instead on creating an economy where both kinds of welfare are unnecessary and can be eliminated.
We need one economy benefiting us all, with a free and fair market for everyone, not crony capitalism for a favored few. At the heart of one-for-all economics are two bedrock principles. The first is that if you do an honest day’s work, you should not live in poverty. In today’s economy, growing numbers of people work every day and often hold down more than one job but still cannot earn enough to lift themselves above the poverty line. That is both morally wrong and intolerable. The second principle is that demand, not supply, is the primary driver of economic growth. Feeding the rich in hopes of stoking supply has been a miserable failure, never producing more than a trickle for the masses and causing the grotesque economic inequality we are experiencing today. Putting money in the pockets of consumers and thereby stimulating demand does far more to prime the economy’s pump.
America is growing apart. Growing together again will happen as soon as we recognize the relationship between political inequality and economic inequality, and break the vicious cycle.