Letter to the editor: Outrage could be re-directed

Published 7:53 pm Friday, January 29, 2016

To the Editor:

I often read with surprise and dismay the many voices that complain about those lazy poor people who get free food stamps, phone service and health care (all of which are pretty basic necessities of life), but rarely do I hear a word about those people who really take advantage of the system. You know, those successful people at the top who work so hard to buy their mansions, jets and condos in Aspen. According to the Economic Policy Institute, since 1978, CEO compensation at the largest corporations has risen by 937 percent, adjusted for inflation. During this same period of time, a typical worker’s compensation has grown 10.2 percent, adjusted for inflation. In 2015, the median pay for the top 200 CEOs was $17.6 million. And yet, what do we hear? The poor get food stamps (to eat) or phone assistance (needed to find or keep a job). Remember, if you are making a minimum wage of $7.25/hour, and work 40 hours/week for 50 weeks/year, your total income is a whopping $15,080/year. What happens in those situations when the car breaks down, or the baby gets sick? When you live from paycheck to paycheck, the results of small irritations for a middle class American can be catastrophic to a low-income family.

The causes for the dramatic rise in income disparity are many, but, for the most part, these causes are not the result of market forces, but rather are policy driven. In other words, the politicians and lobbyists for these special interests get what they want, including tax advantages, laws that result in the decline of unions, rise of corporatism, shifts in political power, etc. Based upon trends, there is absolutely no evidence that market forces will correct this disparity. Only new government policies will reverse this trend, and that will only happen at the ballot box.

I hope that our “exceptional” country will not abandon its moral principles by failing to maintain what amounts to a small safety net for those who are struggling, even if a few poor people may take advantage of the system. Corporate forces have been taking advantage of the system for much larger sums for a very long time.

I applaud those who work hard and I believe that hard work should be well rewarded. But the breadth of income disparity that currently exits in this country is stunningly unfair and potentially dangerous. I would suggest that our outrage should be re-directed.


Tom Walker