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fixing the income gap

The world’s 8 wealthiest men are as rich as half of humanity and Oxfam bases its calculations on data from Swiss bank Credit Suisse and Forbes.

The eight individuals named in the report are Bill Gates, Inditex founder Amancio Ortega, veteran investor Warren Buffett, Mexico's Carlos Slim, Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Oracle's Larry Ellison and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.

This statistic is more flagrant given that the middle class is disappearing and Donald Trump tells America in his speech to Congress about bringing things back to normal. How odd that this is an anti-Republican message that bristles against unbridled capitalism that they so loved in recent years.

Much of the problem was created by deregulation which Reagan began but which Bill Clinton actually accomplished by negotiating things like NAFTA. The idea was that by opening up free markets everyone would win but of course it was a fallacy with the ones most profiting being those best able to capitalize.

Trickle-down economics was a failed Republican idea that no one bothers to advocate any longer since everyone knows it is a fable which cannot work in this new global economy. The prosperous post war middle class of the United States was built through the military industrial complex and the needing to build infrastructure, housing and services for a population that was largely gainfully employed.

But the Neo-liberalism that came after Reagan fell into the trap of forgetting the working class and somehow imagined that re-education would create opportunity in a changing world. Those textile, steel, coal and automotive jobs would be replaced by something else. Of course they were not and disgruntled working-class Americans then thought that Obama's "Yes We Can" slogan might fix their ills which is why many voted for him. He might have been a well-meaning and decent man but the true problem was far more pervasive and deeply-rooted.

Newly formed protectionist policies won’t fix the problem because these jobs are mostly gone now. They have been outsourced to low wage countries where people toil to have enough money to put food in their families’ stomachs. Meanwhile, that top 1% continues to amass wealth which I don’t deny them their right to.

The problem is that the extreme disparity can only get so bad before the invariable implosion sends waves of panic among a population that will become desperate when their basic needs are not met.

Consider that one in two working Americans earn less than $30,000 a year. In 2014, half of them reported an income at or below $28,851 (the median wage), and 51 percent reported an income of less than $30,000. Forty percent are making less than $20,000. The federal government considers a family of four living on an income of less than $24,250 to be impoverished.

That is not a sustainable scenario.


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