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The Wealthy Vs. The Middle Class

Copyright 2008

      American politics are packed with issues that people feel strongly about...taxes, security, the economy, health care, abortion, and equal rights just to name a few. However, my nine year old son asked, "Daddy, what is the most important issue?"

      I stopped for a moment and then I suddenly remembered. I replied, "The future of our democracy."

      He said, "Oh come on…our democracy won't fail. We have a constitution and three branches of government and everyone votes…and…and…What do you mean the future of our democracy?"

      I said, "The natural order of things is to have a king or a queen surrounded by a few noblemen and everyone else is dirt poor. The modern form of this is to have a Prime Minister and a few oligarchs and everyone else is just above the poverty level (For example: Russia, China, North Korea, Syria, Cuba, etc.). Just because we set up a democracy that enabled us to develop a strong middle class does not negate the tendency to revert to the natural order of things."

      He said, "What tendency to revert to the natural order of things? Even the richest people in America don't want that."

      I said, "You're right. Even Bill Gates is smart enough to realize that his billions were given to him by middle class Americans. However, people are greedy and want as much for themselves as they can get. For example, if the CEO of Exxon-Mobil sees an opportunity to make windfall profits while reducing the economic viability of America's middle class, do you think he will do it?

      He said, "Sure."

      I said, "The problem is that a reduction in the economic viability of the middle class reduces the profit potential for all CEOs who depend on the middle class. This is classic 'life-boat' ethics. We are all in this together and there must be a level playing field so everyone has a fair chance to compete." 

      He asked, "But I thought that the ability to make a profit from your own hard work is the engine that drives our economy?"     
      I said, "Yes, therefore there needs to be a balance.  We need laws and regulations that support and maintain a healthy middle class but we also need laws and regulations that allow businesses to grow and prosper.  It is a tricky balance but this balance is the real political issue in America.  If one side wins, then everyone loses. Unfortunately, our middle class has been in decline for 30 years and the wealthiest one percent are sequestering an ever larger share of our cumulative wealth in exponential fashion.  In my opinion, America needs a slight course correction."

      He said, "Yes, I think that I understand."

-Levystien 10/23/08