Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Political Inequality

The United States is a country that was built on the ideal that everyone has a voice, that the will of the government is the will of the people, it was built on the promise of a perfect democracy. While I never believe that the U.S. has ever been a perfect country I believe the growing problem of income inequality is affecting more than just people’s bank accounts, I believe it is affecting the system of laws that govern the people in favor of giving power to the rich.
Since the 1970’s and 80’s as the class distribution has become wider, political campaigns have gotten a lot more expensive. With this increased cost associated with becoming a candidate and more importantly winning politicians have increasingly favored more influential citizen’s wants and needs than the lower classes. One example of this is the issue of the estate tax. The estate tax affects very few people in reality, only estates estimated over $5,000,000 are taxed. Yet why is it that such a tax that only affects the top earners in the economy be fought by so many citizens? Unfortunately while politics favoring the rich is undoubtedly a contributing factor, there is what I believe is something ingrained in the American citizen that fights against taxing and persecuting what could through realization of the American Dream be us. Unfortunately this very idea works against that same dream by in this case allowing estates to be relatively free from tax once obtained allowing for the rich to be cemented in their wealth.
Unfortunately another recent development allowing candidates to be swayed by larger buckets of money is the formation of Super PACs (Political Action Committee.) These Super PACs allows for candidates to be donated large sums of money without need for accountability. Previous to the introduction of these PACs in 2010 all donations to a political campaign could (in theory) be accounted for. Following the introduction of these PACs this is not the case anymore; any organization or person can now donate to and thus influence politicians far more easily. It can easily be seen how such large donations could sway the politics of a candidate to favor their rich benefactors.
If the effects of economic inequality are so far reaching and affect so many people in the population how is such blatant unfairness still tolerated in a country that prides itself on having a democracy for the people by the people? In addition to politics the causes and effects of the condition affecting the citizens of the U.S. have been slow and gradual and many people don’t fully realize the impact that policies have on their own well-being. 

        You don't do this in a kind of chortling, smoking your cigar, conspiratorial thinking way. You do it by persuading yourself that what is in your own personal self-interest is in the interests of everybody else. So you persuade yourself that, actually, government services, things like spending on education, which is what created that social mobility in the first place, need to be cut so that the deficit will shrink, so that your tax bill doesn't go up. And what I really worry about is, there is so much money and so much power at the very top, and the gap between those people at the very top and everybody else is so great, that we are going to see social mobility choked off and society transformed.

— Chrystia Freeland , NPR

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