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Paul Buchheit’s Alarming Look at the Inequitable World We Live in Now… And Our Children Will Live in Tomorrow

December 11, 2018

The Inequality to be Suffered By Our Children” Paul Buchheit’s latest post for Common Dreams, describes the increasingly privatized world we live in and how that environment is impacting the world today and in the future for our children… and it is a disturbing reality. As always, Mr. Buchheit pulls no punches, offering this lead paragraph to set the stage for his essay:

The fortunate ones will not be suffering. In the past eight years, the richest 5% of Americans have increased their wealth by $30 trillion — almost a third of total U.S. wealth — while the poorest 50% have seen their average wealth drop from $11,500 to $9,500. There is ample evidence for a nation soon to be made even more unequal by the transfer of wealth from rich baby boomers to their children and grandchildren, who will have done little if anything to earn it. The middle class will be further crippled by the ongoing growth in inequality. Unless progressive policies are demanded by American voters, most of our children and grandchildren will suffer from the continuing expansion of a Great-Depression-like wealth gap that already “dwarfs” the rest of the developed world.  

Mr. Buchheit then offers several illustrations of how privatization of public services, an idea endorsed by both political parties, prevents the suffering of the most affluent Americans while adding onto the suffering of everyone else. And what is the income of  “the richest 5%”? A quick Google check indicates it could be anywhere from $130,000 upward based on a statistical calculation. But one chart in Wikipedia indicates how the income of the highest wage earners is unbelievably higher than that: As this chart illustrates, the top 400 wage earners have colossal earnings compared to the top 1.5%, whose earnings approach $1,000,000 per annum. And Mr. Buchheit cites studies and analyses that show that more and more of the wealth at the top is being transferred to heirs, many of whom are transferring it completely out of our economy through tax shelters.

These children of the ultra rich, though, are joined by their colleagues in the top echelons when it comes to displacing public services though privatization… and it isn’t hard to see where this is leading us:

The kids (raised in top earning households) will never have to worry about health care. They’ll continue their parents’ trend of paying ‘concierge’ doctors to visit their mansions or yachts, where emergency rooms are equipped with heart monitors, ultrasounds, x-ray machines, and blood analyzers. If a hospital stay is required, they might look into a $2,400 per day penthouse hospital suite complete with butler and grand piano.

In case of fire, they can follow the example of Kanye and Kim and hire a private firefighting service.

For security, the already proliferating private police forces are certain to fill the protection needs of the kids with newly-acquired estates. But private officers tend to be undertrained compared to public police; their acts of aggression are rarely reported; and in some states private forces are not even subject to investigation through the Freedom of Information Act.

And since the individuals who make these stratospheric wages are unwilling to share their largesse to provide services for everyone else by paying their fair share of taxes, public services are diminishing and more and more middle class children will experience the kinds of hospitals, schools, and emergency services that poor children encounter today.

Mr. Buchheit concludes his essay with this sobering news for those who see the Democrats as the group that can turn our current system around:

Democrats have not been the answer to all this. Both Barack Obama and Bill Clinton were buddies with Wall Street; Obama spent public money on drone warsClinton decimated the safety net and increased mass incarceration.

Greater equality of wealth and opportunity can only be achieved through progressive policies, now and in 2020. That is the hope of people who care about the needs of society rather than one’s position on a billionaire list.

Mr. Buchheit didn’t say so, but as readers of this blog know both President Clinton and President Obama advocated the privatization of public schools and public services as a means of “reinventing government” and playing into the overarching message of Ronal Reagan that government is the problem and running-government-like-a-business is the solution. Here’s hoping that Mr. Buchheit’s message about the need to expand progressive policies reaches a large audience.



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