For the last three and half decades, American workers have largely been on their own. With the exception of labor unions, they have had no go for broke champion to help them navigate through the political scene.
But while applauding the successes of a few, we are institutionalizing an inequality by refusing to take action on legislation that grants a living wage to the many.
It impacts how we live and even how long we live. It affects education, the length and depth of poverty in our nation, our ability to rise and make a new life for ourselves. Structural inequality means that public policies are made to benefit a very few instead of the mass of Americans. Despite vaunted myths about our democracy, average Americans have little or no influence on political decisions in the United States.
We have to fix this mess we created. And even if we can’t really fix it, we have to at least try, don’t you think?
What if more major companies shared the wealth with the employees who helped build them? If more enterprises valued their employees, not just with living wages but also with ownership stakes, we’d have considerably less inequality.
The Patriotic Millionaires consider this film, which is highlighting the dangerous and rapid expansion of the wealth gap, as fundamental to the national conversation about economic inequality.
As global wealth concentrates in fewer hands, the world’s wealthy are shifting trillions to offshore havens to escape taxation, accountability, and publicity.
What America has lost track of, but California is thankfully revisiting, is the idea that the “cost of labor” is connected to actual human lives. Californians will see the collective advantages of a stronger economy based off of workers with higher spending power.
In Country Music, you learn to respect all people no matter their position in life. That’s just part and parcel of country culture: good ole southern politeness and hospitality. And then there’s self-interest. The first time I shook hands with Garth Brooks, he was selling boots at a boot store in Brentwood, Tennessee. In Nashville, you never know if your waiter, or a day laborer, or someone sleeping in their car might be the next superstar. You learn to respect everyone, which happens to be a good lesson to learn in life anyway.
Today, Morris Pearl, Chair of the Board of the Patriotic Millionaires, challenged Michael Sommers of PEGCC to a public debate on the carried interest tax loophole, the policy which allows fund managers to pay a lower tax rate than most other Americans.
Why are we in fact subsidizing housing for wealthy people? Not only are we subsidizing housing for the wealthy, we’re doing it to the tune of billions of dollars a year. This can’t possibly be a good thing, and we should stop it.
The Institute for Policy Studies report, titled ”Billionaire Bonanza: The Forbes 400 and the Rest of Us”, found that just 20 individuals now own more wealth than the bottom half of the U.S. population, or 152 million people living in 57 million households.
Late last year, during a trip to DC to argue for higher wages for working Americans, the Patriotic Millionaires participated in a “brown bag boycott” of the Senate cafeteria. The goal of the boycott, which was organized by Sen. Bernie Sanders, was to raise awareness for low-wage Senate cafeteria workers striking to demand better pay and a union.
An upcoming Epix documentary series, “America Divided,” will investigate social, economic and political inequality. Patriotic Millionaires Norman Lear and Lawrence Benenson are working to bring it about.
At some point, legislative influencers will realize that they have to act on raising the federal minimum wage. What kind of deal will they strike? Politicians could have much to lose. Democrats will have much to prove.
Across the country efforts to increase the minimum wage are being debated, fought for, and increasingly victorious.
This Monday, on Martin Luther King holiday, Oxfam released its annual report on inequality. The report found that the world’s 62 richest people now own as much wealth as the “the bottom half of humanity,” – some 3.6 billion people.
In his final State of the Union address, President Obama spoke strongly about workers rights and economic inequality, saying that it is up to we the American people to create change in our land — that we’ve done it before, and can do it again.
What is happening is that the ultra-wealthy are using their disposable income to buy political influence, then using that influence to get laws passed that allow them to collect rents.