Two factors have forced economic inequality as a cause upon the political class, despite all efforts by the politically-connected to avoi it. The first is the fact that inequality has reached a level at which hard working Americans simply can't make ends meet and the economy simply can't continue to grow properly.
The second is that, contrary to the contorted morals by which radical Conservatives insist selfishness is the highest order of ethics, America is a nation which has always fundamentally valued fairness. A fair deal, a fair shake, a fair chance, fair play, a fair trial, and many similar sayings are deeply embedded in the American psyche. That is so true Psychologists, Sociologists, Economists, and others have extensively studied the concepts of fairness and the tolerance of people for unfairness. Clearly we're at that limit as well.
A far bigger version of the game is now being played on the national stage. But it’s for real — as a relative handful of Americans receive ever bigger slices of the total national income while most average Americans, working harder than ever, receive smaller ones. And just as in the simulations, the losers are starting to say “no deal.”
According to polls, they’ve said no deal to the pending Trans Pacific Trade Agreement, for example, and Congress is on the way to killing it.
It’s true that history and policy point to overall benefits from expanded trade because all of us gain access to cheaper goods and services. But in recent years the biggest gains from trade have gone to investors and executives while the burdens have fallen disproportionately on those in the middle and below who have lost good-paying jobs.
By the same token, most Americans are saying “no deal” to further tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. In fact, some are now voting to raise taxes on the rich in order to pay for such things as better schools, as evidenced by the election of Bill de Blasio as mayor of New York.
Conservatives say higher taxes on the rich will slow economic growth. But even if this argument contains a grain of truth, it’s a non-starter as long as 95 percent of the gains from growth continue to go to the top 1 percent – as they have since the start of the recovery in 2009.
It isn't just since 2009, either. Since 1979 the top 1% has received ALL GAINS IN PAY AFTER ADJUSTING FOR INFLATION and the bottom 99% have received NOTHING. That means since the current recovery began the situation actually represents an IMPROVEMENT! The reason people increasingly are demanding the system be reformed is quite simple...understanding is increasing that the system is rigged.
When a game seems rigged, losers may be willing to sacrifice some gains in order to prevent winners from walking away with far more — a result that might feel fundamentally unfair.
To many Americans, the U.S. economy of recent years has become a vast casino in which too many decks are stacked and too many dice are loaded. I hear it all the time: The titans of Wall Street made unfathomable amounts gambling with our money, and when their bets went bad in 2008 we had to bail them out. Yet although millions of Americans are still underwater and many remain unemployed, not a single top Wall Street banker has been indicted. In fact, they’re making more money now than ever before.
Top hedge-fund managers pocketed more than a billion dollars each last year, and the stock market is higher than it was before the crash. But the typical American home is worth less than before, and most Americans can’t save a thing. CEOs are now earning more than 300 times the pay of the typical worker yet the most workers are earning less, and many are barely holding on.
In 2001, a http://www.gallup.com/poll/166904/dissatisfied-income-wealth-distribution.aspx">Gallup poll found 76 percent of Americans satisfied with opportunities to get ahead by working hard, and only 22 percent were dissatisfied. But since then, the apparent arbitrariness and unfairness of the economy have taken a toll. Satisfaction has steadily declined and dissatisfaction increased. Only 54 percent are now satisfied, 45 percent dissatisfied.
http://www.people-press.org/2014/01/23/most-see-inequality-growing-but-partisans-differ-over-solutions/">According to Pew, the percentage of Americans who feel most people who want to get ahead can do so through hard work has dropped by 14 points since about 2000.
This is a fundamental danger to the Capitalist economy...the Capitalist economy which has treated me fairly well compared to a lot of others, the place where I make my money as does almost everyone else. Capitalism relies on a fundamental belief that both parties can EXPECT to walk away believing they've gained something of adequate value. When the EXPECTATION is that the party with the least power is going to get screwed CONSISTENTLY the free market loses it's moral underpinnings. Without that it will fail. It has to fail because people don't believe in it anymore. The free market is nothing other than a system of rules under which business takes place. When it doesn't work for a vast swath of hard working Americans we have a right to demand adjustments to those rules. Americans are making those demands now, and smart politicians will promise to deliver changes which strengthen the middle class.