In the season of giving I am parceling out my yearly checks to various charities (who appear to spend it hounding me by phone to give more). Sorry, didn’t mean to go Scrooge.
I’m wondering if, as a country, we’re willing to give big.
In Obama’s memorial speech for Mandela, he said: “There are too many of us who happily embrace Madiba’s legacy of racial reconciliation but passionately resist even modest reforms that would challenge chronic poverty and growing inequality.”
For millions of Americans to be better off, a few rich people must agree not to rise so quickly.
From 1947 to 1979, the top one percent of Americans saw their share of the U.S. income drop from 12% to 8%, while the 20 percent of Americans in the middle increased their share from 15 to 16%.
From 1979 to 2007, the top one percent of Americans increased their share from 8 to 17%, while the middle 20 percent saw their incomes fall from 16 to 14%.
The rich see the world differently: there is more mobility and growth for them today and it is easy to be blind to the stagnation for the rest of us.
To quote Shamus Khan’s piece in the Times: “more and more for the richest in a society where the mass of the citizenry idles—is a democracy in decline.”
To appeal to the civic-minded elite, Khan advises honesty: to get back to what made America great, when the many and not the few were winning, not everyone will benefit.
“If a few of us are better off, then many are not. If many are better off, then the few will be constrained.”
I know which country I want.