It’s not level for minorities. The top 400 billionaires in the U.S. hold as much wealth as all African-American households, plus one-third of Latino households combined (inequality.org)
It’s not level for the middle class. The middle class is dying. A recent Fortune article noted, “as much as 70% of the households in 25 advanced economies saw their earnings drop in the past decade… To put it bluntly: A huge swath of the world’s population, one that had been taught to expect their material wealth to grow through their lifetimes and across generations, has learned that this promise was a lie.”
Wall Street profits are up, though…
The question is not whether or not economic injustice exists, but what do we do about it? The typical debate is between free markets and big government. Wall Street says we need to let market forces correct the problem. Others say the government has to step in. The answer back from the financiers is, of course, keep the government out of the markets… which is where my frustration grows to a boil.
Free markets do not exist. All markets are regulated. The question is really, who do those regulations benefit.
The debate in our society between those who prefer free markets versus those who prefer big government is a scam run by Wall Street and corporate America in the hopes that the American public, rubes that we are, will not notice that they’ve rigged the game in their own favor. Conservative v. Liberal. Left v. Right. Government regulation v. market forces. These conflicts are a carefully constructed ruse meant to distract normal men and women from the fact that they are getting played by today’s economic titans.
Free markets are an illusion. If a marketplace is truly free, it exists with only one rule, the rule of the jungle: might makes right. A truly free market will eventually devolve into a monopoly that erases all competition. Truly free markets only exist in the wild as monopolies where might makes right until one powerful player controls the game.
All markets are regulated. In order for a marketplace to exist at all, there must be a set of rules or regulations in place that govern the way the marketplace will work. Markets can only exist when there are rules established that govern the interactions keeping one player from gaining an unfair advantage. Rules to govern the market are a precondition of any financial marketplace.
As it stands today, the rules that regulate commerce in American Society, and increasingly in the world—although most countries have much better and stronger regulation of markets than we do—benefit large corporations and the richest 1%. After the Citizen’s United decision by the SCOTUS, corporations can now legally bribe politicians, buying and selling them like playing cards, using them to rig the game in their own favor.
We don’t need fewer financial regulations. We need more of them. We need different government regulations, better ones… and simply taxing the rich won’t get the job done, either. We need to change the rules of the game so that corporations and Wall Street firms cannot continue to rig the game in their own favor, leaving the middle class to continue to struggle and shrink.
So, during this election season, when you hear a politician or pundit touting the virtues of the “free market” system, or the wisdom of “market forces,” versus the power of government… you can safely dismiss this as hot air. That person is, knowingly or unknowingly, involved in a scam. They have not questioned their own assumptions. What they call a “free market” is really a carefully regulated market with a set of rules that currently benefits large corporations, banks, and the rich. This is why the middle class is shrinking, and why poverty is still a massive problem in the midst of the most affluent culture on the face of the earth.
As long as the scam works, the titans of corporate America and Wall Street have nothing to fear. As long as they can keep the society all stirred up about whether we need big government or market forces to shape commerce, the powerful agents at work controlling the economic life of our society can continue to rig the game in their own favor… undetected.