If it's occurred to you to wonder why our government produces policies which so often run opposite the desires of the American majority, the obvious has now been confirmed. According to a joint Princeton/Northwestern University study the concept of government of the people, by the people, for the people is perilously close to being a distant memory. For all intents and purposes America is an Oligarchy, not a democracy. People of ordinary means only get their preferred policies if and when they coincide with the desires of the wealthy elites. That's the legacy of Reagan, and it's been consistent over the last 35 years.
That is, purely and simply the reason why inequality has increased steadily throughout that period. That inequality is most starkly represented in the fact that real incomes for the lower 80% plus of the economy peaked 15 years ago. It has slowed economic growth. It has produced the greatest economic crash since the Great Depression. It has increased economic instability. It has damaged faith in the Capitalist economy. It has produced a generation of young people who are angry about their lack of future prospects. It has produced a generation approaching retirement without adequate means of support.
Now it's apparent that inequality kills, and the Oligarchs need to be held responsible.
In 2009, the British Medical Journal (BMJ) published a study that revealed what seems to be a shocking truth: those who live in societies with a higher level of income inequality are at a greater risk for premature death.
Here in the United States, our high level of income inequality corresponds with 883, 914 unnecessary deaths each year. More specifically, the report concluded that if we had an income distribution more like that of the Netherlands, Germany, France, Switzerland — or eleven other wealthy countries — every year, about one in three deaths in the US could be avoided.
Put that into perspective. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), tobacco, including second-hand smoke, causes approximately 480,000 deaths every year, and in 2010, traffic accidents killed 33,687 people and 31,672 others died of gunshot wounds.
The costs of this increased mortality are out of control. It's time to take our democracy back from the Oligarchs. New policies that would decrease inequality are critical to the future of the United States. It can't wait much longer.