The widening gap between rich and poor distresses most Americans. The distress is not limited to the poor, and middle-class. Some who are doing well feel guilt over a range of societal reminders of the inequality of life in the richest and most powerful nation in the world. Billionaires like Warren Buffett note that his secretary is taxed at a higher rate than himself.
Some Americans despair because the gap seems insurmountable; many despair because few politicians and leaders know what to do about it. Many who have wealth think it is because of their hard work. They discount inheritance and the luck of being born in the right family. As President Trump notes, he received a $1,000,000 loan from his father to get a start in the real estate industry.
Many of the rungs of the ladder to success are broken.
Income beyond the necessities of life, the cost of education, medical coverage for unexpected illnesses, and the nature of American capitalism get in the way of equal opportunity. When both mothers and fathers work and can only provide shelter and food for their family, they find it difficult to provide support and nurture of their children. Instead of nurturing and supporting, parents default to freedom by neglect.
There is a growing perception of primary and secondary schools as babysitting agencies rather than learning foundations. Television and video games become teachers, mentors, and guides for latch-key children.
Education is a necessity in a changing technological world but the cost and quality of education reinforce development of an underclass trapped in poverty. It is not simply a matter of colleges or secondary education facilities. Private industry needs to expand its training for sorely needed employees looking for advancement. Apprenticeships and mentor-ships need to be developed and nurtured in the private sector. Until the private sector takes more of a lead in educating and retraining workers, there will be a labor shortage in America.
Vilifying immigrants is scapegoating a fundamental problem in postindustrial countries. Qualified labor is in short supply because of aging demographics and the failure of businesses and government to cooperate in expanding education and training of the underemployed.
If Americans wish to remain a great economic power, it must encourage legal immigration and education of the employed and unemployed. There are not enough young people in post industrialized nations to carry the burden of an aging population and the need for an expanded safety net for the mentally challenged and physically handicapped.
America’s political leaders argue about the cost of medical insurance and needs for its citizens while being pampered by special interests (doctors, lawyers, and insurance companies) that provide elected officials and government employees a living wage, medical insurance, and a measure of employment security.
Lobbyists for these special interests feed elected officials re-election money to get favorable regulatory legislation to improve doctor, lawyer, and insurance company profitability.
Insurance companies pedal their policies to the government while the needs of the poor are marginalized. Political representatives hide behind belief in a mythical economic invisible hand that will serve those who work the hardest. To some affordable insurance deniers and their elected representatives, it is a matter of survival of the fittest; i.e. the unemployed, the homeless, the mentally disabled and handicapped are considered guilty of their own condition.
There is no invisible hand. Without a private sector insurance system, medical treatment would have to be collectivized. The idea of nationalization is disastrous. There are not enough doctors to serve the needs of citizens now. Collectivization through a single payer system will make doctor shortages worse. Complaints by doctors of insurance company interference is preferable to a doctor shortage with increasingly longer lines for service. A single payer system is not the answer. Regulation of the insurance industry is preferable to any form of collectivization.
Some argue that regulation is a slippery slope to communism. That is a red herring. Self-interest is an undeniable human characteristic of America democracy. Medical insurance, like the banking industry, must have government over site. Just as banks have prospered with regulation, so can insurance companies.
American capitalism favors the wealthy at the expense of the poor. On the one hand, the stock market is a beacon of freedom because it provides private capital for the expansion of the economy. On the other, tax advantages for those with enough money to buy stock, get a free ride off the working poor. The poor do not have the advantage of disposable income to invest. Lower taxes on capital gains make the rich richer and leave the poor further behind.
There will always be haves and have-nots, but America needs to level the playing field. Both American government and private enterprise need to step-up to improve education, open minds to a world economy, and provide a realistic safety net for all citizens.