To the editor:
Now that the electioneering frenzy is over, it’s time to deal with a problem that looms over our lives.
I’m referring to income inequality that is seen as blocking economic growth and job creation.
The rationale for large salaries for CEOs is that not only they deserve them, but payments trickle down to benefit those who are laboring in the trenches. Nothing of this kind actually happens. The protective, prevailing corporate use of offshore accounts to avoid taxes along with encouraging loopholes in our tax code are all-consuming. No attention is paid to the fate of workers.
We now have a “winner-take-all” economy, aided and abetted by the Supreme Court’s ruling called Citizens United that corporations are like human beings proficient at spending vast sums on whatever they wish, like elections. Are corporations really like living, breathing people, capable of feeling others’ pain and possibly responding with offers of help?
It’s notable that social mobility here is less than in other countries and that the middle class is shrinking away. Labor unions designed to assist workers taking on corporate excesses are much less influential. Deregulation and privatization favor corporate entities, not citizens.
In 1948, Harry Truman pleaded for a government “that will work in the interests of the common people and not in the interests of the men who have all the money.” He didn’t prevail.
Democrats could have enacted labor law reforms that make it easier to form and preserve labor unions that would work to acquire a fair share of the profits. In addition, raising the minimum wage would put more money in peoples’ pockets to spend on everyday products. This could enhance productivity and, according to Paul Krugman, is key to dealing with income inequality that can lead to anger and instability if it’s ignored.
Reducing taxes on middle and working classes and raising taxes on the rich would overcome inequity. Our dysfunctional Congress should come together to establish a progressive tax code.
After all, despite the word “tax” being unacceptable in how planning is undertaken, it is a given in our society. We pay property and sales taxes, many fees for services rendered, tithes, membership charges, family allowances. Wall Street should give back what it attempted to make off with in the downturn in 2008. A financial transaction tax has been proposed.
Eleven European countries recently agreed to undertake a tax on all trades of stocks, bonds and derivatives that will take effect in 2014.
Fairness is a virtue that is in our DNA. Just witness how people behaved when the New York marathon was canceled. They fanned out over the areas hard-hit by Hurricane Sandy with offers of help in the cleanup.
Let fairness come to the fore and our nation and the world will be much better off.
Chapel Street, Gloucester