An AP article posted on Yahoo today reports the income gap is widening between the richest and the poorest in the nation. This should come as a surprise to no one, since it’s a lot easier to go broke when you only had $50 to begin with. It takes longer to go through $50,000. It goes on to say median incomes fell $2,000, poverty jumped to 13.2% (an eleven year high), and food stamps families went up 13% last year. The article ends with, “The findings come as the federal government considers new regulations to rein in executive pay at companies in which it has invested. President Barack Obama also typically cites the need for higher taxes on the wealthy to pay for health care overhaul and other measures, arguing that the wealthy have disproportionately benefited from tax cuts during the Bush administration.”
Remember when we all watched endless slide shows and specials, telling us about the victims of 9/11? Do you remember seeing all those faces, reading all those names, feeling sick in your heart for their families? Did anyone ever talk about whether they were CEO’s or janitors? Did anyone care about what income level they were at? Nope. All that mattered was their lives had value, and their lives were lost. For just a few weeks, we didn’t care so much about class lines. We were united in our grief, and then united in our fury.
Ever since Andrew Jackson, the first “common man” to win the office of president, politicians in this country have been quick to point out our economic differences. Politicians of all stripes drone on and on about this idea of the “average American” and the “common man” and are quick to point out that some people live above or below that average. In times of economic crisis, it’s easy to lay the blame on people who have a lot of money. It seems unfair that they have a lot and you have a little. It seems unfair that the pinch will hit them last. It seems unfair that some keep their jobs and some lose them. Here’s my question: Does the Declaration of Independence, Constitution or Bill of Rights promise anyone that things will always be fair? We have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit to happiness—do we have the right to prosperity? Do we have rights to economic equality? It seems we have equal opportunity with unequal results. Is that right?
I think it’s a misnomer that we declare that “all men are created equal.” It’s not true. Some people have talents in business, and they do very well. Others have talents in speaking, or science, or writing, or working with people. Some are born to wealthy families and some are not. Some are born to families that value education and some are not. Some are born to parents who want them, and some are not. We come here unequal, different in almost every way. What makes us equal is the standing we have in the government. If you still have representation in the government, if you exercise your right to vote, you have an equal standing.
Some think that in order to rectify the wrong of an unequal distribution of wealth is to tax it away from those who earn it. How is that fair? Why is it unfair for some to make more money than others, but it’s not unfair for some to pay for all? The fairest tax would be a flat tax with no deductions. Everyone pays the same, without exception. Then no one is picked on, and the man whose 11% amounts to $13,200 makes up for the man whose 11% is $1,320.
We can’t let the politicians bring us into bitter class warfare. It’s their way of hiding the fact that they are doing nothing to help us. Demand common sense, and accept the fact that democracy and capitalism don’t guarantee that life is fair or equal in every way, and it shouldn’t. If God didn’t see fit to make us all the same, I don’t trust the federal government to do so, and it most certainly isn’t their job to do so. Don’t become distracted by fighting with each other instead of demanding meaningful change, and quit crying like my two year old when he doesn’t get the same stuff as his five year old brother, “It’s not fair!” To you I say what I say to him, “Tough. Life isn’t fair.”