By John Ballard
Another post made the point but this one won't hurt.
Repetition is a tried and true teaching technique.
The study that shows why Occupy Wall Street struck a nerve by Eugene Robinson
The right maintains that inequality is the wrong measure. To argue about how the income pie should be sliced is �class warfare,� and what we should do instead is give the private sector the right incentives to make the pie bigger. This way, according to conservative doctrine, everyone�s slice gets bigger � even if some slices grow faster than others.
Indeed, the CBO report says that even the poorest households saw at least a little income growth. Why is it any of their business that the high-earners in the top 1 percent saw astronomical income growth? Isn�t this just sour grapes?
No, for two reasons. First, the system is rigged. Wealthy individuals and corporations have disproportionate influence over public policy because of the often decisive role that money plays in elections. If the rich and powerful act in their self-interest, as conservative ideologues believe we all should do, then the rich and powerful�s share of income will continue to soar.
Second, and more broadly, the real issue is what kind of nation we want to be. Thomas Jefferson�s �All men are created equal� is properly understood as calling for equality of opportunity, not equality of outcomes. But the more we become a nation of rich and poor, the less we can pretend to be offering the same opportunities to every American. As polarization increases, mobility declines. The whole point of the American Dream is that it is available to everyone, not just those who awaken from their slumbers on down-filled pillows and 800-thread-count sheets.
So it does matter that as the pie grows, the various slices do not grow in proportion. We�re not characters in one of those lumbering, interminable, nonsensical Ayn Rand novels. We believe in individual initiative and the free market, but we also believe that nationhood necessarily involves a commitment to our fellow citizens, an acknowledgment that we�re engaged in a common enterprise. We believe that opportunity should be more than just an empty word.
I like that language. As polarization increases, mobility declines.
Upward mobility today is far more difficult than it was just a few years ago. Ask any new college graduate facing thousands of dollars in student loans. Or ask someone who has watched his parents spend down to qualify for Medicaid, a lifetime of savings and accumulated assets vanishing almost overnight.. Or the laid-off employee in his or her fifties -- with twenty or more years of faithful service to the same company -- seeking employment in a job market crowded with smart, young competitors.
Equality of opportunity does not mean equality of outcomes.