Quid Rides? De te Fabula Narratur

What are you laughing at? The joke's on you.

How Much Wealth is Enough?

Posted by Anthony on January 19, 2015

Anti-Poverty charity Oxfam released a report the other day wherein their studies show that by 2016 the wealthiest 1% of the global population will own more than 50% of the wealth. By 2020, that percentage is due to rise to 54%. Whereas the elites have been getting wealthier, the poor of the world have seen a marked drop in the amount of wealth they posses: the same report explains that the bottom 50% has seen their wealth drop by $750 billion in the last four years. This bring us to some interesting observations…

That the wealthy have always sought, throughout history, to protect and grow their wealth is understood. It has at times even been beneficial to the impoverished as when a billionaire suddenly decides to become a philanthropist, or starts a new program up to provide educational opportunities and access to healthcare for those without (which ought to be the government’s job in any case, but I digress…). Even Henry Ford increased his workers’ pay to a somewhat livable wage although, one could quickly point out, he did as such in order to give them enough money to buy his cars and so in a sense the extra money put out could just as quickly have ended up being recycled back into the company.

Still, we have to ask what some of the ramifications to the wealthy controlling more and more of the world’s wealth are not only on the economic level (which, I believe, has been covered many times over) but on the political level as well. The political system in the United States has been corrupted by the massive amounts of money infused to each campaign cycle putting most political office out of reach for all but A) the financial elites and B) those who seek and receive the backing of a major political party. Those of you who have read some of my older work may recall that I am not a fan of the current system in place (the two-party system) and would rather favor a parliamentary system such as those practiced in Europe and elsewhere. Yet even there, the idea of forcing one to conform to a political party in order to procure the needed money for any such campaign is a corruption of the very nature of democracy. Here in the United States, it is even worse: the ridiculous amounts of money needed for even a relatively minor political office make independent campaigns all but futile.

The villain here is, to no surprise, the amount of money that is allowed into these campaigns. The first step, therefore, towards reclaiming democracy for the common man is to severely limit the amount of money allowed into each campaign. Limit the amount each candidate gets to spend him or herself, limit the amount individuals are allowed to contribute (or, ideally, ban that altogether… if you want to support a candidate because you believe in their cause vote for them or volunteer time letting others know about them), ban lobbying groups from running advertisements or any campaigns on behalf of the candidate, and ensure equal access time for each candidate within the appropriate market.

Will this solve every problem? No, of course it won’t. There will always be those special interest groups who are vigorous in their attempts to subvert democracy at every level. There will always be those politicians who see the ultimate goal of their office as rewarding those who helped them get there and lining their own pockets at the same time. Term limits would be a great step in the right direction, but not even that by itself would cure the sickness. We need comprehensive reform in order to bring true democracy back to the common man.

I started this article out talking about wealth in general and I’m quite sure many of you had figured I would go on about that rather than dive into a discussion about the political ramifications of that increase in the concentration of wealth, but the two are inexorably linked. For a working class man, who struggles to bring home enough money to pay his rent and provide food for his family, the concerns of Geo-politics and legislative or judicial technicalities are the furthest thing from his mind. Only a strong middle class can effect political change as we have seen time and again, which is why this wealth distribution should be so scary to those of us who value democracy. Eliminate the middle class and you eliminate democracy.

Wealth redistribution? I’m all for it… after all, certain segments of our society have been redistributing the wealth for years in their favor; perhaps its time to repay them with some interest?

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