Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

Income Disparity and the Health Care Debate: Take Back the Rhetoric!

By R.J. Ruppenthal

From the Community Blogs.

 
We need to take back the rhetoric in the health care debate and in everything else. The middle class has been lost in this debate or misled into these stupid Tea Parties, and the lower class has no voice at all. The bottom line on social policy and economics is that the rich keep getting richer and everyone else is getting squeezed. The area where I live and work used to be a bastion of the middle class, but a study recently showed that jobs paying between $30,000 and $80,000 are disappearing. That is (or was) the middle class. No doubt you know that the Top 5% or so of the population possesses more wealth than the other 95% of us. That number has gotten worse, because just a few years ago those same statistics used to say 10%/90%.

Check out this similarly disturbing set of figures on income disparity over time, for which I am indebted to the Five Cent Nickel site. This is based on historical Federal Reserve data. The “mean” is the average, whereas the “median” is the line dividing the top of the sample from the bottom half:

1960: Median = $8,690; Mean = $10,420 (Median is 83% of mean.)
1976: Median = $13,549; Mean = $16,893 (Median is 80% of mean.)
1982: Median = $19,446; Mean = $26,259 (Median is 74% mean.)
2004: Median = $93,100; Mean = $448,200 (Median is 21% mean.)

Translation? Granted, the 2004 numbers include inflated real estate, which drives up peoples’ paper net worth. But the bottom line is that a few SICKENINGLY rich people are distorting this in a very bad way. Shame on any of them for opposing health care as a universal right for all Americans. And shame on the big insurance companies and right wing for misleading everyone into believing in the false dilemma of the middle class: that health care means higher taxes and Soviet-style services. Somebody needs to pay for it, you say? I know just who can afford it, and taxing them won’t cost you a dime.

These same people blame unions for being greedy. Public sector unions are blamed for pushing for more tax dollars for the government employees they represent, bankrupting the states. Private sector unions are blamed for driving up costs, and driving companies overseas. Auto workers unions are blamed for causing the demise of Detroit and of American manufacturing. Well, guess what? Unions helped create the middle class. Now the middle class has been outsourced and unions have less power than ever. But someone else is laughing all the way to the bank. And trying to pit the rest of us against one another. But I ain’t buying it, and neither should you.

Take back the rhetoric. Remind people that the super rich in this country have cashed out the middle class, and that they can darn well afford to pay for health care, middle class employee benefits, school lunches for poor kids, student loans for college students and anything else we think we need. Health care, housing, and a good education should be universal rights for all Americans, and they are quite affordable through higher taxes for the rich.


The Miracle of Farming: Toward a Bio-Abundant Future

Charles and Perrine Hervé-Gruyer’s Le Ferme du Bec Hellouin is a celebrated model of innovative, ecological agriculture in Europe, connected to national and international organizations addressing food security, heralded by celebrity chefs as well as the Slow Food movement, and featured in the inspiring César and COLCOA award-winning documentary film, Demain (Tomorrow).In this excerpt from their […] Read More

Sow Seeds: Stop Walking Around Doing Nothing

“In the last one hundred years, 94 percent of seed varieties available at the turn of the century in America and considered a part of the human commons have been lost.”That’s one of the key takeaways in award-winning author and activist Janisse Ray’s book, The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food. In her book, Ray […] Read More

True or false? Figs contain dead wasps

They are trees of life and trees of knowledge. They are wish-fulfillers … rainforest royalty … more precious than gold. They are the fig trees, and they have affected humanity in profound but little-known ways. Gods, Wasps and Stranglers tells their amazing story.Fig trees fed our pre-human ancestors, influenced diverse cultures and played key roles […] Read More

Imagination, Purpose & Flexibility: Creating an Independent Farmstead – Q&A (part 1)

Twenty years ago, the land that authors Shawn and Beth Dougherty purchased and have come to name the Sow’s Ear was deemed “not suitable for agriculture” by the state of Ohio. Today, their family raises and grows 90% of their own food.Such self-sufficiency is largely the result of basing their farming practices around intensive pasture […] Read More

Eight Seed-Saving Myths

You don’t have to move to Svalbard, Norway in order to have access to a seed bank.Author and plant breeder Carol Deppe believes that every gardener should have her own seed bank. Even if you aren’t a seed saver, you should have your own seed bank. Even if you never experience any disaster beyond the […] Read More
Follow us
Get every new post delivered to your inbox
Join millions of other followers
Powered By WPFruits.com