Bill Moyers gave this speech to the Council of Great City Schools on October 27 of this year. It’s about the fundamental founding principles of America and how those values are at risk, largely due to growing economic inequality among Americans. I highly recommend the whole article posted at TomPaine.com. Here a couple of exerpts (emphasis mine).
First, on the gap between rich and poor:
Aristotle thought injustice resulted from pleonexia, literally, “having more.” A class of people having more than their share of the common wealth was the characteristic feature of an unjust society. Plato thought that the common good required a ratio of only 5 to 1 between the richest and poorest members of a society. Even J.P. Morgan thought bosses should only get twenty times more than their workers, at most. How quaint: In 2005 the average CEO earned 262 times what the average worker got.
And on falling blue collar wages…
As hard as it is to believe, the average real weekly wage for blue-collar workers, adjusted for rising costs of living, was about $278 a week in 2004 (in constant 1982 dollars). In 1972, it was $332 a week. That’s not a slight downward trend – it’s a significant and steady decline. So what of the panacea, economic growth – remember the rising tide that lifts all boats? What we are seeing today is closer to the old view of class struggle. A recent Goldman Sachs report says it outright: “The most important contributor to higher profit margins over the past five years has been a decline in labor’s share of national income.”
So, is all of this inevitable? No, actually much can be done to correct these problems. A powerful tool available to citizens (through our representatives) is the contract bid process that corporations must follow to do business with the Federal, state and local governments. More on this later. Until then, it’s time to take a little break from this mess.
Cross-posted fromSustainable Middle Class Blog