To the editor:
At the heart of the disagreement between liberals and conservatives is their preference for cooperative versus individual action. The way we allocate income is a case in point.
Conservatives believe in an economic law of the jungle, in which the income of each individual is whatever he can get out of the system. What that has led to is one individual using financial machinations getting an income equal to about that of 100,000 workers who actually produce the goods and services we all enjoy.
It has led to heirs having incomes equal to that of 50,000 workers without having to do a lick of work. It has led to a downward trend of the incomes of the middle class and an increase in the number of Americans living in poverty. That, in turn, has led to lower demand and thus prolongs the recession.
One rationalization of the bizarre disparity of income in the U.S. is the notion that it is necessary to motivate highly paid executives. The idea that the enormous incomes of executives have led them to work harder and become more effective than they were 50 years ago is as ridiculous as that creating generations of idle rich contributes to the general welfare.
In the rest of the developed world, there are rich people, too. But with more cooperation through government, the vast majority of citizens can lead better lives.
For instance, national health care systems make care that is better by any measure easily available to all, without the stress from knowing what an economic disaster a severe health problem poses. Regulations of the finance industry helped to facilitate our remarkably stable post-depression economic growth that was shared by rich and poor alike, without the recessions that have grown more and more severe as deregulation has proceeded.
Currently, money has so much influence on elections that it may not be possible to reverse the trend toward the rich becoming ever rich at the expense of everyone else.
The election of Obama may have slowed the trend, but has not reversed it. Our future hangs in the balance.
Gloucester and Exeter, N.H.