Great Embarrassments of an Unequal Society

H/t reader squodgy:

Great Embarrassments of an Unequal Society (Common Dreams, Aug 3, 2015):

America has experienced “gush-up” rather than “trickle-down.” The shame is on the adherents of unregulated free-market capitalism, who have assaulted us with the message of “winner-take-all” wealth over the common good. George Will perpetuates the neoliberal myth by quoting one of his idols, John Tamny: “Income inequality in a capitalist system is truly beautiful…it provides the incentive for creative people to gamble on new ideas..”

But in the realm of reality, there are many reasons for embarrassment:

1. Just Because They’re Rich, Billionaires are Trusted to Design Our Education and Health Systems 

Bill Gates leads the way here. He got rich in questionable ways from technology, and as a result much of America feels he’s qualified to be a great humanitarian. Because of his corporate-endowed foundation, says Arundhati Roy, Bill Gates can “find himself designing education, health, and agriculture policies, not just for the U.S. government but for governments all over the world.”

In addition to Gates, education ‘reformers’ include Mark Zuckerberg and his fellow billionaires Eli Broad and Michael Bloomberg and Rupert Murdoch and the Walton family, none of whom have much educational experience, and all of whom are promoting education reform with lots of standardized testing and little accountability to the public.

In agriculture, wealthy western philanthropists decide the future of African farmers from a corporate point of view, with a sense of disdain for traditional methods of small farming.

Much the same in health care, with World Health Organization director Margaret Chan summarizing the role of money in global decision-making: “My budget [is] highly earmarked, so it is driven by what I call donor interests.”

2. A Prime Destroyer of Low-Income Homes is Awarded for His “Contributions to Society” 

As part of the 2015 New York University’s 183rd Commencement, hedge fund billionaire John Paulson received an award for his “Outstanding Contributions to Society.” The commencement program addressed him: “..Your influence is felt throughout broad sectors of society..your commitment to..a better quality of life for people across the world.”

In 2007 Paulson had conspired with Goldman Sachs to create packages of risky subprime mortgages, so that in anticipation of a housing crash he could use other people’s money to bet against his personally designed sure-to-fail financial instruments. His successful bet against American households paid him $3.7 billion.

3. As America Adds $30 Trillion in New Wealth, 6 Million More Kids Go on Food Stamps 

The number of children on food stamps grew from 9.5 million in 2007 to 16 million in 2014, at the same time that U.S. wealth was growing from $52 trillion to over $83 trillion.

4. 40% of Food Wasted…..and 40% of Households Food-Insecure 

According to Feeding America, almost 50 million households, or about 40 percent of American homes, experienced food insecurity at some point in 2013.

At the same time, the Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that 40 percent of food in the United States goes uneaten.

5. Graduate Students Work 6+ Years for a PhD, then Need the Safety Net to Survive 

Businesses need less high-tech workers than just 15 years ago. Netflix, for example, serves 57 million customers with less than 2,200 employees, and much of the photo processing once done by Kodak with 145,000 employees is now done by Instagram with 13 employees.

Available jobs are well below the skill levels of college-trained adults. According to the New York Federal Reserve, 44 percent of recent college graduates were underemployed in 2012, holding jobs that are normally held by high school graduates.

New college graduates face their worst prospects in academia, where adjunct teachers now make up over 3/4 of instructors. One-quarter of part-time college faculty and their families are enrolled in food stamps or one of the other public assistance programs.

The Greatest Embarrassment 

That would be Congress itself: Allowing Americans to go without health care. Blowing off jobs bills. Ignoring infrastructure. Privatizing education and other public needs. Doing nothing about student debt. Cutting the IRS even though every hour of auditing returns $9,000 from large corporations. And on and on and on.

1 thought on “Great Embarrassments of an Unequal Society”

  1. It was sometime around 1989…..We had a client named Xerox Parc, as well as we worked for Xerox all over CA. I was told one day I needed to learn a new program called Ventura. It was the first Windows program, and I was pleased at how easy it was for me to use it. I had gotten angry with DOS for years, would call my engineer partner to “please come and fix it.”

    Ventura made much of our efforts very easy……Windows was born at Xerox, it was stolen by Microsoft…….There were not many laws on intellectual properties in those days, and Microsoft recruited many of the bright engineers from Xerox. When I hear what a great and generous guy Bill Gates is, I could throw up……

    As for the leaders of medical enterprise, I feel the same disgust. Xerox hired thousands of people, and kept them all at work. Rupert Murdoch works only for himself, and the idea that cretonne has the power to decide who becomes president is repulsive to me. Yet, it is obviously true…..Murdoch told FOX who to cover for GOP presidential candidate and who to leave out….

    This is beyond terrible. I would never vote for these rats, but being told in advance by corporate greedy guts is bad enough, the winning results would be too much to stand.


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