On paper and in spirit, the United States is “the land of the free.” It is thought of as a place of equal opportunity where hard word, talent, and dedication to goals almost assure that they will be achieved. We are a democracy, not a plutocracy, where an select class of haves rules an under class of have-nots. However, this whole integral notion that defines our society could be put into jeopardy as more wealth gets swallowed up by the rich and the poor our left with less. The rich are getting wealthier in this country because they are manipulating their power to get more money, are influencing national decision with their political pull and because they can find loopholes and ways around existing laws in order to reserve a larger piece of the American pie for themselves.
A recent court case ruling against JPMorgan’s, brought front and center the greed in our society. JPMorgan was sued because it put more priority on making quick easy money, than making sound investments. (New York Times, 2013). Telling of the abuses at the top income brackets is that the IRS has tripled its audit rate for income brackets about $500,000. (Hasset, 2013).
One does not need to look far to see that the rich truly are getting richer and are using their own position of power to get there. Over the last 30 years CEO pay grew 127 times faster than worker pay according to a study cited by the Bonnie Kavoussi in the Huffington Post. Between 1978 and 2011 CEO pay rose 725 percent while worker pay rose only 5.7 percent. Are CEOs today working ten times harder then their processors 30 years ago? Not plausible, but their greed has grown since ten. (Huffington Post, 2012).
Catherine B. Hill echoes this sentiments and writes that “Income inequality is the major factor contributing to the challenges facing higher education and is a significant public policy issue” (Hill, 2013). If those with lower incomes cannot get the education they desire, it is much less likely they will be able to better their situation.
At the beginning of the 20th century, it seemed that there could be a leader in the country who cared deeply about the poor and wanted to eliminate them with his Share Our Wealth movement. Huey P. Long was a Louisiana politician who became a huge figure, getting in total 7.5 million Americans to follow his movement. His plan was a drastic one that had many rich businessmen watching. His proposed that anyone with over $5 million in accumulated wealth would have the rest appropriated and divided, and anyone making over $1 million in a year would have their wages appropriated and redistributed. Unfortunately, Long’s movement never saw it’s natural conclusion, as he was killed at the Louisiana state capital in 1935, and the Roosevelt administration, while it did pass some reforms that benefited the poor, did not pass anything as comprehensive as the plans that Long was proposing. (American Rhetoric, 2006).
With such excesses this is a problem that only can be solved through politics. But currently, there are not policies on Capital Hill being discussed on the floor about what to do about the fact that the rich are getting richer and the poor power. Catherine Hill writes “Ultimately, income inequality is primarily the responsibility of the government and society.” But currently, nothing drastic is being done and the rich get richer while the poor get poorer. It is not just a political issue, George Lakoff, believes that it is a moral issue saying, “Progressive taxation—taxing the wealthy at higher rates than the poor—is a moral issue.”(Lackoff, 2007)
"CEO Pay Grew 127 Times Faster Than Worker Pay Over Last 30 Years: Study."Breaking News and Opinion on The Huffington Post. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Sept. 2013. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/02/ceo-pay-worker-pay_n_1471685.html>.
Hassett, Kevin A. "The rich get more (audits)." National Review 17 June 2013: 8. Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 10 Sept. 2013.
Hill, Catharine B. "As the rich get richer, students pay more." Washington Post 7 Sept. 2013. Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 10 Sept. 2013.
Judge Rules Against JPMorgan in Suit Over Billionaire's Losses." New York Times 27 Aug. 2013: NA(L). Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 10 Sept. 2013.
Lakoff, George, and Bruce Budner. "The Wealthy Should Pay Taxes at a Higher Rate." Are America's Wealthy Too Powerful? Ronald D. Lankford, Jr. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2010. At Issue. Rpt. from "Progressive Taxation: Some Hidden Truths." Rockridge Institute, 2007. Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 10 Sept. 2013.
Long, Huey P. "Share Our Wealth." Social Policy: Essential Primary Sources. Ed. K. Lee Lerner, Brenda Wilmoth Lerner, and Adrienne Wilmoth Lerner. Detroit: Gale, 2006. 167-170. Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 10 Sept. 2013.