Is now leased out, I die pronouncing it,
Like to a tenement or pelting farm:
England, bound in with the triumphant sea
Whose rocky shore beats back the envious siege
Of watery Neptune, is now bound in with shame,
With inky blots and rotten parchment bonds:
That England, that was wont to conquer others,
Hath made a shameful conquest of itself.
Ah, would the scandal vanish with my life,
How happy then were my ensuing death!

There is no serious argument against the premise that wealth disparities beyond some arbitrary point are destructive of societies and even eventually to the well being of the putative “winners”. One can look at objective data–there is a wealth of it to study–and come to a reasonable conclusion on more or less where that arbitrary point exists based on metrics having to do with societal health, broad educational and economic opportunity where meritocratic considerations outweigh the built in advantages of inherited wealth, the existence of a broad and viable middle class to fuel economic prosperity and many other factors I’m sure. There is also in the vicinity of that point, one where wealth concentration destroys even putatively democratic political systems as the political class becomes unduly influenced by a tiny demographic minority and the entire premise of democracy fails to apply any longer and government ceases to represent or serve the many but instead the few. And this point is a classic tipping point that inevitably becomes a self-reinforcing feedback loop– the wealthy rig the rules of the economic game incrementally further and further in their favor until the situation becomes untenable and great general misery and poverty ensue and society essentially disintegrates.

I would argue that it is self evident that the US has far surpassed that tipping point and unless strong correctives are devised and applied to stop and reverse the current trendlines, the economic, social and political future of the US is in existential peril.

Once this realization sets in we can begin to look at methods for addressing this knowing full well the headwinds will be howling against our accomplishing anything substantive. But in the end we are many and they are few and should a popular resolve coalesce that this needs fixing, there’s precious little the billionaires can do to stop it happening. There are plenteous historical precedents to accomplish a necessary leveling to a healthy sustainable point, from monetary policy, tax policy, electoral finance reform to New Deal-type programs to pitchforks and torches and tumbrels and guillotines. The less bloody should be tried first and if those efforts are stymied, then obviously the more bloody must be employed.

Kurt Sperry

Kurt Sperry