Of course, as with so many ideas propagated by the right the truth is 180 degrees from what they claim. For the last 40 years the haves have increased their overall percentage of wealth and income gains while simultaneously decreasing their contributions to the nation and the people who have helped to make them wealthy . For them greed is good. For them greed drives the economy. For them greed trumps patriotism. For them greed trumps compassion. For them greed trumps fact.
The greediest among us and those who represent them would have us believe that we have been driven to the brink of financial ruin by government spending. Entitlements, welfare, social security, medicare, medicaid, education, these are the things that have bankrupted us as a country. As a result we must pretend to take the deficit seriously so we can make crucial cuts to fight against the greed of the poor and middle class that threatens our nation.
There is a particular dark ironic cynicism in being the cause of the problem while placing the blame on those who have suffered the most from your own greed. There are so many ways to look at our reverence for greed. One could consider the actual source of the problems we face. One could look at whether these problems would exist at all if we had more greed at the bottom.
Take for example, the deficit. The right argues that we need to reduce the deficit in order to save our nation. Yet the cause of the deficit isn’t the solution they seek. They seek to cut entitlements, but the facts are that the deficit is almost entirely created by three things, the wars, the tax cuts and the economic downturn. All three of these are short term problems that can be changed. Yet the right argues for long term solutions that not only don’t address these issues, but also punish those who are not responsible for the cause.
The tax cuts while reaching most American tax payers clearly benefited the wealthy the most. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities the tax cuts represent the largest portion of our deficit, accounting for $7 trillion in deficits between 2009 and 2019. These tax cuts are in fact loans from the future of the middle class and poor to make the wealthy wealthier today.
In the event you might think the wealthy needed the tax break, that somehow the wealthy might have been suffering while the poor and middle class were living high on the hog with their government entitlements, remember the facts. The facts are that over the last 40 years 100% of income gains have gone to the wealthiest Americans. Over that same time, middle class incomes have remained flat, since the recession, they have actually been shrinking . Upward mobility is on the decline and the middle class is shrinking as more Americans slip into poverty.
Only one word can describe those with the most wanting more still, greed.
The second largest contributor to our deficit is the economic downturn. Again, we find greed. The economic downturn was largely caused by purposeful acts designed to increase the wealth of a few while ignoring all ethics and consideration of the rest of the country. One of the largest contributors to the downturn was the mortgage crisis. We hear the greedy beneficiaries of the downturn blaming the poor and middle class for the mortgage crisis, claiming that they had purchased houses and taken mortgages they couldn’t afford. We also hear the voices on the right blaming the government for the mortgage crises. Yet when the FBI looked at the problem it wasn’t the poor and the middle class who were greedily attempting to manipulate the system:
“The FBI investigates mortgage fraud in two distinct areas: Fraud for Profit and Fraud for Housing. Fraud for Profit is sometimes referred to as "Industry Insider Fraud" and the motive is to revolve equity, falsely inflate the value of the property, or issue loans based on fictitious properties. Based on existing investigations and mortgage fraud reporting, 80 percent of all reported fraud losses involve collaboration or collusion by industry insiders.”
According to Bloomberg news, our government spent or guaranteed as much as $12.8 trillion to rescue the economy. We now know that in many cases the very banks and corporations that caused the crisis took that money at zero interest and used it to further increase their wealth and profits. Given the choice between atoning for their sins and helping to right the economy and greedily grabbing more money by loaning 0% interest government money at considerable profit, they chose greed.
It’s not just what the greedy do. It’s also about what they don’t do. They fail to recognize that they receive the lion’s share of the benefit. They fail to recognize that the remaining majority of the population bailed them out while we lost our homes, our jobs and in many ways our future. The greedy fail to stop at just receiving 100% of the gain, they want even more, they want part of the precious little the middle class has managed to squirrel away.
Take for example social security. A movement is afoot to cut future benefits and raise the retirement age. Here the greedy seek to take more from the middle class by robbing them of their retirement. They’ve taken our corporate pensions. They’ve taken our healthcare plans. They’ve taken our wages. Now they want to take our social security.
How you may ask? Remember that social security is paid for by you. You pay into an account that will be there for you in the future. Over the years we have borrowed from the money you paid in. We borrowed to do things like fund wars, pay for bailouts and give tax cuts. Now, as you move towards retirement, that money needs to be paid back so that you can receive the money you paid in. But the greedy say no, we can’t risk increasing the deficit. We want to keep that money we took. We can’t possibly pay it back. It will bring our great nation to financial ruin.
Greed drives the wealthy to acquire even more wealth. Greed has driven the wealthy to take from the poor and middle class. Greed has driven our nation to financial recession. Greed has driven our politicians to give more to the wealthiest among us while taking more from the middle class and the poor. Greed drives us to not even question any of this. Greed drives us to celebrate the greedy and condemn the victims.
Greed is undeniably good for the wealthy. The wealthy believe that greed is undeniably bad for the rest of us. When the wealthy borrow from the poor via social security they don't need to pay that debt, but if the poor borrow from the wealthy in the form of mortgages they must pay or face foreclosure. American greed means that we socialize the losses while we privatize the gains. Both of these trends must be reversed with both being more equally applied for all.
The real question is whether or not greed will remain an American value. The true conservative must recognize that this kind of greed is not the free market. This kind of greed is not about freedom. This kind of greed drives those who claim to be conservative to create the worst kind of big government while crushing the best kind of government our nation has to offer.
It may seem pedantic, but I would remind our friends on the right that as our Declaration of Independence States,
“that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”
And our Constitution’s preamble reminds us:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
Modern American greed is counter to every aim established in our founding documents. It makes our union less perfect. It establishes injustice. It replaces tranquility with fear, panic and misery. It ensures the defence of only the wealthy and the powerful. Modern American greed deprives us of liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and as it piles debt upon debt, modern American greed denies all of these things to our posterity.
Here again we find the left complicit in this problem. We have failed to fight as hard for right as the right has fought for greed. Greed does not have the consent of the governed yet it has amassed great power. An America that does not offer opportunity to all is no longer America, the only question is whether or not it is too late. One thing is certain, the problems America faces aren’t because Americans are lazy.