Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Poverty of Wealth

One of the the many goads to my conscience comes in the mail ten times a year.

It’s called the Washington Newsletter of the Friends Committee on National Legislation, which is affiliated with Quakers.

The July/August issue addresses poverty and inequity in this country. The slender. eight-page newsletter does lays out the problems clearly and concisely.

In this country, 34 percent of the nation’s private wealth is held by 1 percent of the nation’s households. And 90 percent of U.S. households share just 28.7 percent of the weath.

It gets worse. The poorest 40 percent struggle to survive on 1 percent.

In the same issue, the editors offer a nine-question “poverty quiz.” You can download it, and its answers by going here.

To me one of the most telling facts about the people who run this country and its economy is revealed in the answer to question 9:

Question: At the 350 largest public companies, the average CEO’s total direct compensaton was $11.6 million in 2005 (my note: the average is much more now). How long does it take the average CEO to earn the annual (the emphasis is mine) pay of a full-time minimum wage worker? (a) two hours (b) six hours (c) one day

Yes, one of those is the correct answer.

Those who perpetuate this sort of inequity, who place their own extravagant personal interests so far ahead of the basic needs of others (health, education, housing), are the very same people who control our political system, our media, our country and our destiny.

Can there be any doubt why there is a “populist” resurgence in this country? And why so many are saying, "Bring it on!"

Also in the July/August issue:
• “Slow the Rush to Corn-Based Ethanol”
• “Habeas Corpus is Essential to Due Process”

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