Inequality shatters societies
I write this from outside America; a Londoner, and a European. One thing that has struck me in recent debates about Trump, Brexit, and the wider questions of economics, society, and healthcare is a statement I've heard from several Americans:
"America is a Capitalist country. We are not Socialist."
So the government does not pay for people's healthcare, infrastructure (or whatever we were discussing). This very binary idea of what being capitalist means threatens a slow collapse into social unrest and, historically, revolutions. Once poverty affects life expectancy, you are down to the basics of raw humanity. People get angry and desperate, and being rich becomes uncomfortable.
In the UK, where we all have free healthcare, many people find it bizarre to see such U.S. opposition to basic healthcare for everyone. It seems barbaric, not "Capitalist."
Bottom line: If economic factors keep wages from rising, then the rich who are getting richer need to recognize their responsibility to those who are getting poorer. But none of this will happen while economically ultra-conservative billionaires run America. Instead we will see an increase in poverty, and the death not only of dreams and aspirations, but also of people.
Other voices in the conversation:
- Robert J. Gordon, economics professor, Northwestern University, author The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The political pendulum will swing back
- Darrick Hamilton, director of urban policy, the New School: The dice should not be loaded
- Edmund S. Phelps, Nobel laureate and economics professor, Columbia University: Give us grassroots innovation
- Lyman Stone, agriculture economist, USDA: Resist the taker-state