The nation's plague of economic inequality and poverty
puts everyone at risk.
By Paul Buchheit
June 08, 2020 "Information
Clearing House" - Hundreds of thousands
of Americans have suffered "deaths
of despair" from alcohol and drug abuse and suicides
because they could no longer provide for their families.
Even before the COVID-19 crisis, during a post-recession
period when the economy and stock market were booming,
the poorest 50% of Americans lost
wealth. And now many of them have lost their
jobs, their income, their livelihoods.
40%: The Percentage of Lost Jobs that May Be
Lost for Good
Anywhere from half to three-quarters of
Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck.
Now the paychecks are disappearing. Tens of millions of
Americans have lost
their jobs, many of which will not come back. A
recent paper out of the University of Chicago estimates
that over 40
percent of jobs lost are gone
$40 Trillion: The Amount of Wealth that Went to
America's Richest 10% in Just Ten Years
The poorest 50% got nothing. Their wealth
Over three-quarters of
our wealth is owned by the richest 10% of Americans.
Over $40 trillion has surged up to these individuals
since the recession, allowing them to more than double their
wealth to an average of over $3 million, mainly by doing
nothing while the stock market nearly quadrupled in
value. That's American prosperity being shifted upwards,
a redistribution of wealth to households that were
America has nearly 20
million millionaires—approximately one for every
of seven households are living without savings.
$8.70: The Amount of Black Household Wealth for
Every $100.00 of
White Household Wealth
The economic pain is greatest for black households, who
have seen their median household income
drop over the past twenty years, while their
total household wealth remains at about one-twelfth of
white households. The pain and misfortune continue to
pile up for the black community, which has suffered the
greatest effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Because of their job losses and lack of savings and
inability to maintain rent payments, they will be taking
the brunt of an inevitable housing crisis;
and, in perhaps the cruelest hit of all, the Trump
administration is still considering cuts
in the food stamp program.
1 Hour: The Amount of Work in a Week to be
Qualified as 'Employed'
Even if the jobs come back, they won't be enough for
millions of part-time workers. The Bureau
of Labor Statistics bases the official unemployment
rate on employees "who did any work for pay or profit"
during the week being surveyed. That includes part-time workers
who are employed for just one
hour a week.
Even with that absurd definition of employment in
America, unemployment levels were still not
reduced for the Black community in the first month
of recovery from the pandemic.
The Insanity of Not Having a Guaranteed Income
The need for a guaranteed income (or, even better,
guaranteed jobs) was clear well before the pandemic. Robot
technology has been steadily replacing workers, and
unlike in the past the workforce is not evolving into a
higher skill level. Much of our thinking is now
performed by machine. And that technology—artificial
intelligence—was largely built
by the taxpayers. The jobs remaining are, to a good
extent, either high-tech positions with six-figure
salaries or low-skilled jobs in food service, retail,
and health and personal care.
Now, with a quarter of the population facing economic
collapse, the need for a guaranteed income is magnified
to a level last seen in the Great Depression. It seems
to have worked in Stockton,
California. It has a wide range of supporting voices
behind it. Most strikingly, the pandemic has made it clear that
a dramatic change will be required in the way Americans
provide for their families.
How to implement it? A very small tax on financial
wealth. With just two percent of each
household's financial wealth each year, our nation could
generate enough revenue to provide nearly a $14,000
annual stipend to every American household (yes,
including those of the richest families).
Does this "soak the rich"? No, everyone pays a tiny
portion of their financial wealth, and everyone receives
an equal portion in return.
If the wealthiest Americans continue to resist this
sensible and obvious solution, the violence that plagues
our nation will continue to get worse. And violence, as
peace advocate Robert
Burrowes has long maintained, is a reflection of a
Paul Buchheit is an advocate for social and
economic justice, and the author of numerous papers on
economic inequality and cognitive science. He was
recently named one of 300 Living Peace and Justice
Leaders and Models. He is the author of "Disposable
Americans: Extreme Capitalism and the Case for a
Guaranteed Income" (2017). Contact
email: paul (at)
youdeservefacts.org. - "Source"