FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The "Pursuit of Happiness" Means a Job

It’s guaranteed for all of us by the Declaration of Independence. While ‘happiness’ is a vague word, the unhappiness caused by extreme economic inequality has been clearly demonstrated by Richard Wilkinson and others, as it leads to increases in homicide, obesity, drug use, mental illness, anxiety, teenage pregnancies, and the high school dropout rate. People need employment to function safely and comfortably as a part of society.

That’s why we should tax the very rich. It’s not socialism. It’s as American as the Declaration of Independence.

Instead we stubbornly support a “free market” system that allows a financial expert to make enough money to pay the salaries of 50,000 police officers.

Police departments are shrinking, schools are being closed, teachers laid off, educational programs cut. The media would have us believe that everyone is suffering. But the latest Merrill Lynch-Capgemini “world wealth” report found that in North America last year, the number of rich (millionaires and multi-millionaires) rose 17 percent and their wealth grew 18 percent to almost $11 trillion.

Thirty years ago, when Reagan took office, the richest 1% of America took ONE of every fifteen income dollars. Now they take THREE of every fifteen income dollars. They’ve TRIPLED their cut of America’s income pie. That’s a TRILLION extra dollars a year.

Free-market supporters say the rich will re-invest in industry, providing benefits for all. They said this in 1980. The current level of inequality is equivalent to that of the Great Depression.

The military, meanwhile, is still fighting the Cold War. Our military expenditures equal that of the rest of the world combined. When Iraq and Afghanistan war spending is added to the regular budget amount, it’s close to a TRILLION dollars a year.

Howard Zinn wrote about the elite 1% of Americans that dominate the other 99% in economic and political power. Based on data from the Internal Revenue Service, the Census Bureau, and the Congressional Budget Office, it seems that it’s more of a 1%-9%-90% split, with the middle 9% representing the well-to-do upper-middle-class.

The 90% say we should blame the government and the immigrants.

The 9% say leave the rich alone, and blame the government and the immigrants.

The 1% don’t say anything.

It’s certainly easy to blame the immigrants. The people struggling to survive don’t have security forces protecting their estates, or lawyers researching their legal rights. The immigrants can be our common enemy, our foreign menace.

But they’re not responsible for the lost jobs. Fareed Zakaria notes in Newsweek that the 500 largest non-financial companies are sitting on $1.8 trillion in uninvested cash. Those trillions, along with the lightly taxed trillions of the ultra-rich and the trillions of the bloated military, could provide millions of jobs repairing our infrastructure and finding energy alternatives.

Those trillions could pursue happiness for a lot of Americans.

Paul Buchheit teaches at DePaul University. He can be reached at: pbuchhei@depaul.edu

 

WORDS THAT STICK

?

 

More articles by:
September 20, 2018
Michael Hudson
Wasting the Lehman Crisis: What Was Not Saved Was the Economy
John Pilger
Hold the Front Page, the Reporters are Missing
Kenn Orphan
The Power of Language in the Anthropocene
Paul Cox – Stan Cox
Puerto Rico’s Unnatural Disaster Rolls on Into Year Two
Rajan Menon
Yemen’s Descent Into Hell: a Saudi-American War of Terror
Russell Mokhiber
Nick Brana Says Dems Will Again Deny Sanders Presidential Nomination
Nicholas Levis
Three Lessons of Occupy Wall Street, With a Fair Dose of Memory
Steve Martinot
The Constitutionality of Homeless Encampments
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
The Aftershocks of the Economic Collapse Are Still Being Felt
Jesse Jackson
By Enforcing Climate Change Denial, Trump Puts Us All in Peril
George Wuerthner
Coyote Killing is Counter Productive
Mel Gurtov
On Dealing with China
Dean Baker
How to Reduce Corruption in Medicine: Remove the Money
September 19, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
When Bernie Sold Out His Hero, Anti-Authoritarians Paid
Lawrence Davidson
Political Fragmentation on the Homefront
George Ochenski
How’s That “Chinese Hoax” Treating You, Mr. President?
Cesar Chelala
The Afghan Morass
Chris Wright
Three Cheers for the Decline of the Middle Class
Howard Lisnoff
The Beat Goes On Against Protest in Saudi Arabia
Nomi Prins 
The Donald in Wonderland: Down the Financial Rabbit Hole With Trump
Jack Rasmus
On the 10th Anniversary of Lehman Brothers 2008: Can ‘IT’ Happen Again?
Richard Schuberth
Make Them Suffer Too
Geoff Beckman
Kavanaugh in Extremis
Jonathan Engel
Rather Than Mining in Irreplaceable Wilderness, Why Can’t We Mine Landfills?
Binoy Kampmark
Needled Strawberries: Food Terrorism Down Under
Michael McCaffrey
A Curious Case of Mysterious Attacks, Microwave Weapons and Media Manipulation
Elliot Sperber
Eating the Constitution
September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savior
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail