BY EDWIN E. VINEYARD
This writer once gave a lecture to about 200 college freshmen entitled: “Things You Are Against.” As an introduction to that talk, he said something like this: “We have heard many times how our lives are defined by the things which we are for. I will tell you today that others can tell a lot about your character, and just who you are, by the things you are against.”
It is important now and then to sit quietly and assess ourselves by thinking about what kinds of things we are against. What makes us angry? What disgusts us? What arouses our negative emotions? What upsets us? What irritates us? What bothers us?
Since this is a journal of social, economic, and political commentary, we shall focus principally upon conditions and events in that general sector. What bothers us about political, social, and economic dynamics in this country?
Although we do not want to become bogged down in numbers or statistics, one fact just read again this day bothers me. I was reminded that the richest 1% of the people in this country have more wealth than the lower 95%. Say what you will, and call me names if you wish, but that condition is morally wrong and incompatible with a democracy such as ours. It sets the stage for an upheaval.
Even in the most extreme form of meritocracy, as capitalism wrongly defines itself to be, such a condition is abhorrent.
Our situation in distribution of income is almost as shockingly unfair. Given that some might perform more skilled and technical services than others, and some carry higher risk and greater responsibilities than others in the business and industrial sector, it is morally wrong when the CEO of the organization makes 700 times the wages of the average worker.
It is abhorrent that we have lived through an economic period when that ratio between executive pay and worker pay has increased by 2,000%. It is clear the conditions in this country have favored the rich to get richer in comparison with the working classes. This is not a fair playing field.
It is aggravating to me when the political demagogues of this country succeed in fooling the masses and influencing generations with such a fallacious uttering as: “Government is not the solution to our problems. Government is the problem!” Only ignorant or narrow-minded, opinionated people really believe that smoke and mirrors fallacy.
However, from thence came lasting reductions in the progressive income tax for the highest earners, cutting the tax rate in half, and the start of our largest deficits and huge annual increases in the national debt. A product of this attitude toward government came as deregulation of the business and financial sector. That deregulation led to rampant abuses, soft insubstantial economic growth, and artificial calculations of substance to the detriment of all of us.
The American people and the economy of this nation [and the world] were put in jeopardy by the freewheeling, risk-ignoring, irresponsible conduct of those in leadership in our financial sector.
This led to the necessary expenditure of taxpayers’ funds in bailing out the Wall Street giants, who were “too large to fail,” because of after-effects on our whole system. This expenditure was near $1 trillion. That was followed by almost another $1 trillion in economic stimulus funds being put out to save jobs and to prop up failing state and city governments.
It has been clear that this situation came about as a result of deregulation, and it can only be straightened out and prevented from re-occurring through government regulation. The leaders of those businesses we saved are now spending big money to bribe Congress into rejecting the administration’s proposed regulatory legislation. Now that irritates the heck out of me, and it should irritate all taxpayers.
It is even more irritating that members of our Congress have so little integrity as to be susceptible to such immoral maneuvering and monetary corruption. Those who then try to justify this stance on some false principle of free enterprise and non-regulation, are hypocritical and doubly disgusting. This is the equivalent of their turning their back to us, and then dropping their pants in our face.
Leaders of the political party of deregulation, the favorite of those who have put us all at risk and subjected all of us to big losses personally, and great expense to taxpayers, now stand aside in the role of the cynics and accusers of the new elected leader for the spending steps necessary to solve the economic mess they left behind as their legacy. Again, we detest this hypocrisy.
In passing, a current irritation is the outcry of those who have expected to taxpayers to buy their pimped-up electric golf carts for them. Had there been any such intention, no bill would have ever seen the light of our legislative chambers. Many of us even question subsidies for electric cars, and we certainly did not intend to buy souped-up golf carts for the country club set.
But, more exploration of this subject must await another day and another column. There are lots of other things that bother us.
– Dr. Edwin E. Vineyard, AKA The Militant Moderate, lives in Enid, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer