About 130 years ago, Americans were told that the only reason folks didn't have enough "wealth" was because they were destined to be poor all of their lives. The movement then known as Social Darwinism flatly asserted that Americans that were poor were so because of fate. That being said, the same theory was asserted to establish that the wealthy were rich not because they worked harder, but that they were meant to be rich and to dominate society. But how many of the "new" rich today actually earned their wealth instead of inheriting it? The latest to promote his business acumen as if he was the best thing since "sliced bread" is Donald Trump. I am not sure this man can go anywhere without letting others know he is wealthy. But Trump (who claims to be worth $10 Billion), is not solely responsible for his massive wealth. He was born to a father that left him anywhere between $40 Million and $200 Million (see http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonkblog/wp/2015/07/22/a-secret-to-donald-trumps-success-that-you-simply-cant-replicate/). Some self-made man, huh? I know, he turned that into his massive wealth today, but come on folks, give me between $40 Million and $200 Million as a head start, allow me to escape debt exploiting relief via bankruptcy (Trump has done just that four times) and I too would be a billionaire. More importantly, most Americans would be quite secure knowing that no matter what they did, they would still have some foundation of financial security.
But according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (see http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/wkyeng.pdf
the average American worker in 2015 annually makes as little as $41,652. Someone with $40 Million makes at 2% interest, an annual return of $800,000. That seems fair, right? That must be why American voters always vote against any tax rate increase on those making so much money - because they can relate to having to scrimp and save to make ends meet and still pay their annual tax bills. Oh there you go again, Rubin - blaming the rich for everything. Except, I am not blaming the rich, I am blaming hard working American voters - for abdicating all financial decisions for our nation to those that have no real financial worries and have no real appreciation for just how difficult it is to make ends meet in America today (especially when it comes to college expenses). Hillary Clinton claiming she was destitute when she and her husband left the White House is frequently used by the GOP as an indication she is out of touch with average Americans - and she is! But so is Trump! So is Bush, the son of a former President, brother of a former President and grandson of a multi-millionaire. In fact, there is no one seeking the presidency today that really has a clue what average Americans go through to make ends meet. Oh, Dr. Ben Carson may have had humble beginnings, but since becoming a millionaire, he is hardly suffering financially (and Walker and Rubio have the support of Billionaires).
My point is not to get caught up in the politics of those running for president - there will be plenty of time to evaluate and critique candidates. My point instead is that this weekend, Americans should stop arguing about tax cuts and reforms to Social Security and Medicare. Americans should instead, consider the extensive tax breaks that reward the wealthy for doing what they seem to do best - make themselves rich. Yes, some CEO's earn their money and deserve to be rewarded for their hard work. But some making over $10 Million in annual salary and benefits while employees of their company make so little is, well, a head shaker. Police don't make enough to guarantee wealth. Firemen don't accumulate such wealth serving the public. Teachers don't either. So why does the public seem to believe they are not deserving of decent wages and benefits? Why is it that the American public believes these workers are "thugs" and too lazy to deserve our concern and support?
Just this week, ideas are once again floating in the political world to cut social security in order to "save it!" Some say, "Let's make eligibility tougher and limit benefits so it lasts longer!" Except, some folks work so hard, they most likely won't live long enough to collect the benefits promised to them since they started in the labor force. Most of the money collected for Social Security from all that commit labor, has been STOLEN by Congress to cover other expenditures and/or tax cuts. In the State of Florida alone, public employee pensions are underfunded, not because the greedy public workers and their unions screwed the public, but because they relied on a promise - in writing - that in exchange for lower wages than the public receives, they would enjoy retirements benefits into their old age. Except in Florida, like most states, the State Legislators found it easier to raid pension funds to cover their politically motivated tax cuts and other pork-barrel spending. And the general public? "We can't afford to pay these greedy police, firemen, and teachers!" No one explains to the public that their elected officials STOLE the money. I mean, why should the States ignore that huge pot of cash when they are in need of money to spend when Congress has made it an art-form stealing Trillions of $ from Social Security? Where is the media to expose every Congressman, Senator, State Legislator and Governor for voting to steal these funds? Where? In bed with these folks, that's where.
So as we celebrate Labor Day, let us remember that the poor are not poor because they are supposed to be or they want to be and that not all of the wealthy in America are worthy of the awe foisted upon them by the media. Most importantly, without labor, there would be no wealth for anyone. Until American Society wakes up from the illusion that everyone can become wealthy, and therefore we all should follow their political lead instead of our own, we will continue to vilify those that make this country great - which will one day lead to a society that President Theodore Roosevelt actually feared. Instead of applauding those that have wealth and control our society, we should instead listen to the concerns of the American people. As Roosevelt once wrote; "Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people." It's high time this Labor Day to recognize the contributions of all American workers and demand we have a government that represents their interests and not just those of the wealthy and well connected. Have a great Labor Day Holiday and a great week!
As an aside, work has been completed on the 4th Edition of How Our Government Really Works, Despite What They Say! A huge thank you to my editor, Chris Angermann and my wife, Shellie for making the final edits - an unenviable task for sure. It should be available on-line at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Books a Million this time next week!