Wednesday, December 4, 2013

When A Bargain Is Not A Bargain

Robert Reich
Robert Reich explains the flow of the process by which the "great deals" Americans find on holiday purchases ultimately come at the expense of American workers. Americans either lose their jobs to lower-wage workers in other countries (the Pacific Rim is noteworthy in this respect) or to new technologies (e.g., robots in manufacturing processes), or else see their own wages driven down dramatically by the same factors that give them such "great deals."

Reich correctly observes that there are no easy answers to this very real problem, but I am going to look sideways to another class of possible solutions: more equitable distribution of the wealth gained by such savings. Since Saint Ronald Reagan's days in office, those gains have gone almost exclusively to the top 1%, 0.1%, 0.01%, even 0.001% of Americans. While there are intrinsic reasons... technology and offshoring... for the savings and wealth themselves, there is no intrinsic reason for its distribution exclusively to the wealthiest Americans. If we of the 99.999% ever regained control of our government by one means or another (*cough* *cough*), a more equitable distribution of wealth could be legislated.

There is a fundamental human right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," a right we declared along with our nation's independence, the birthright of every American regardless of their economic status. There is no comparable right to unbounded personal or corporate wealth. As the late lamented Molly Ivins used to say, God is in the details. We can address those details!

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