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Mary Pitt: The Economy Gap

The Economy Gap

by Mary Pitt

Having wakened a bit early and turned to my usual morning fodder of whatever is on C-Span, I was treated (?) to a re-broadcast of an appearance of Alan Greenspan before Congress Now, requiring a barely functional brain to decypher this man's message before fully awake is asking a lot, so I really concentrated in order to absorb the words of this guru of finance. As he talked and I strained to grasp bits and pieces of his dissertation about how successfully our economy has been managed, I was struck by two points that he made.

First, when he and others like him talk about a "robust economy", they are speaking of the money supply in general, as if it were a separate entity from the lives of Americans at large. To them, if there is a good supply of money and "globalization" is bringing a greater share of it to this country, that's good! For instance, "outsourcing" is good because it is accomplishing that goal. Never mind that every citizen of China, India, or any other nation who works in an American-owned factory means one less American with a job, it's "good for the economy" and the economy is god!

When queried as to the reasons for the ever-widening gap between the super-wealthy and the middle-class, this great wise man wrinkled his forehead even more and admitted that he simply could not understand why this is happening. This fiscal genius betrayed the fact that the world view and the comprehension of nothing but money completely ignores the problem that is uppermost in the minds of working Americans, that of the ability to make a good living and to accomplish personal progress in the modern age. He also lamented the fact that people are saving their money rather than investing. I would venture that the working class no longer has any money either to save or to invest. The super-rich, while having investments that are worth far more than they and their immediate descendants can spend in this lifetime, are also putting cash back "in the sock" in preparation for the great crash which even they expect.

For those of us whose major "investments" are our homes, our cars, and our children, watching the "economy" would be amusing if it were not so serious. It's rather like watching a kitten in its first adventure at tree-climbing. At first it is fun but, as it goes higher, it becomes more desperate. The cat never looks down but keeps its eyes on the next branch and the next after that. As the branches become smaller and more frail until there are only twigs to support the climb, it becomes more desperate and an onlooker can only watch it go up and up, wondering if one should call the fire department for a rescue or if the poor thing will simply fall before help can arrive. The goal is simply "the top", though we know there will be disappointment because, once "the top" is gained, there is nothing more there and it will be a long way down.

The religious among us could consider another aspect of this whole situation. Never mind the good advice in the Scriptures as to helping our neighbors, honoring our elders, or feeding the poor. The pertinent caveat that is contained there which applies to this situation is even more specific: "You cannot serve both God and Mammon!" Even the "good reverends" who profess to be the artbiters of our morality as a society somehow forget this message as they appeal for more and more funds from the poor to whom they hold out hope for "mansions in Heaven" as rewards for their poverty in this life. Perhaps in his retirement, our honored fiscal guru should "go to the mountaintop" and await enlightenment which would enable him to understand that "the economy" is not everything but that what is accomplished with that economy is the measure of our nation's true value.

One ventures at one's peril to impugn the intelligence of such a sage as Mr. Greenspan but he can be excused if his brilliant mind is so consumed with the problems of the money supply that he can be forgiven for not being aware of the social issues involved in the present situation. When he sees the news of the rioting in France, he has not time to ponder the fact that it is caused by the desperation of the people as they suffer from lack of productive employment, the means to establish themselves in society, to provide for their families, and to overcome the ever-present racial discrimination. As the President travels to Argentina to help form the economic future of the two continents, he is met by demonstarations and similar riots as the Argentinian people are faced with the same problems.

The world over, the wealthy are reaping the profits of the labor of the poor while the working class sink more deeply into debt and desperation. While the powerful concentrate on the dangers of nuclear wars and a crashing world economy, they are neglecting to notice a much greater threat to their power and position. The unrest and growing desperation of the poor could cause a world-wide upheaval that would repeat history as demonstrated by the first American Revolution, the overthrow of the monarchy in France, the Communist takeover of Russia, and the South African rebellion which led to the changes in the political landscape there. Political changes are in the wind in every nation of the world as a more intelligent and better educated working class realize that a mere subsistence is not enough and they determine to gain their freedom and opportunities for a better life. Slavery, whether imposed by bond and whip or by starvation and neglect, will not long be tolerated by any living person so long as the breath of God stirs in his body.

The only salient fact that Mr. Greenspan cannot grasp is the "trickle-down economics" simply does not work and never has. The super-rich will not voluntarily concern themselves with the plight of the lower classes unless they are forced to by a higher power and that power is the Federal government, "Putting the money back in their pockets" is to take it out of the pockets of the working class and the poor and "creating wealth" should not be the only end product of a democratic economy. It matters little how much money is created in a nation if it creates class division that is so pronounced that revolution is incubated thereby. And, Mr. Greenspan, the policies that have been advanced by you and President Bush have established such a condition.

Now, do you understand?


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