The Poisons of Extreme Wealth and Inequality

From Truth Out:

By Richard Waddell
Thursday, 27 February 2014

Excess wealth, widespread poverty and inequality are all poisonous to our nation. These poisons threaten our economy, our democratic process, academic integrity, our justice system and our culture.

Wealth, poverty, and inequality are all – in excess – poisonous to our nation. They poison our economy, political system, education system, justice system and our culture.

As demonstrated over and over, those with excess wealth are keen to protect that wealth and to add more. One of their favored investments is real estate, but available and suitable properties are limited. Excess wealth chasing limited supplies drives up prices so the average young family must scrimp and save for years before they can buy their own home. For many, the American dream will fizzle out.

If you rent, know your rent is being jacked up in proportion to increased real estate prices. The wealthy do not buy real estate except to speculate or to get a good return on investment.

The wealthy elite can and will gamble by, for example, investing in derivatives. According to The Economist magazine as of June 2011 the OTC and exchange derivatives market was about $783 trillion. By comparison, the world annual gross domestic product is about $65 trillion. The resulting volatility, as we saw in 2008, creates a serious risk to the world economy. We may be at risk for another “too big to fail” bailout.

The wealthy elite also poison our democratic process using massive spending to overwhelm messages from the opposition. For example, groups funded by conservative donors Charles and David Koch alone raised more than $400 million for the 2012 campaign. This was more than both Democrats and Republicans spent in the 2000 election. 

In their obsession to control our public life, the wealthy have bid up the cost of being elected to public office. From 1974 to 2006, winning campaigns for the US Senate have gone from about $500,000 to about 16 times that amount, to $8 million. In the same time period, the cost of a Congressional seat went from about $56,500 to about $1.3 million, or about a 23-fold increase. Americans for Prosperity (a Koch-backed organization) already has spent more than $8 million on the North Carolina Senate election (November 4, 2013) to defeat Democratic candidate Kay Hagan.

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