A wise man said that history never repeats, but always rhymes. It’s sad, but that idea holds true.
One such example is that most of the middle class in the United States has more in common with a peasant of Yorkshire two hundred years ago than one might think.
That it is not to say that we have not advanced. We are a highly educated society with a very high literacy rate and a very complex economy. However, despite the complexity it is very much the same.
How does one get rich in the United States typically? Not buy a nice house “rich,” but buy multiple nice houses “rich.” By being born into the one percent, marrying into the one percent, or being the head of a monopoly.
How did one get rich in 18th century England? Pretty much the same except replace monopoly with owning a large area of land. If this seems like an oversimplification, it isn’t, and that should be aggravating.
How did we get here?
The most direct line we can draw is to the Reagan era, and how we dealt with capital and its distribution. Reagan believed in trickledown economics and began to draw away from the model we had picked up with the New Deal.
Businesses could now lobby the government.
This was the beginning of the end for American prosperity or at least the middle class having any sort of power.
As businesses became bigger and had to pay less in wages and taxes, they gained extra money allowing these corporations to fund political campaigns and certain politicians.
This should raise some red flags.
The political juggernauts of pre-colonial America were the rich nobility, and they were only nobility because they were rich. The moment wealth is introduced into decision making is when the working class lose.
Unless you have the means or the ingenuity, you have very little chance to go upwards on the social ladder. This idea is social mobility, which was one of the biggest draws of the United States over the course of its history.
Nowadays that mobility is miniscule, with the rungs of the ladder being further and further apart.
An individual might get lucky and come up with a service or good, but that increases with how up the ladder you are already. A well-off person has the capital and the free time to explore. Someone living paycheck to paycheck has no such luxuries.
Now this is a multi-centric issue that is hard to pin down and fix. However, there is some light at the end of the tunnel.
First, the “nobility’s” power needs to be curbed once again. Limiting the money in politics will go a long way in making law makers start caring about the many and not the few.
Secondly, corporations need to be held accountable for how they do their business.
We have all heard about offshore accounts; companies get taxed on where they are based, not where they do business. If you or I tried to bank in the West Indies, and claim we didn’t owe taxes to the IRS, it would not go our way.
Taxing companies based on where their consumers are at, as opposed to where companies claim to be from would bring back tax revenue.
For example, if Google has five percent of its consumer in France, five percent of its internationally posted profit would be taxed in France. Companies can make up where they are based. They can’t lie about where they sell.
For every step forward we have taken, if we are not careful, we will find ourselves in a deadly rhyme that nullifies any societal progress we have made.
We need to return to the economic policies that made America different. We can’t let the few control the many.
It’s a long a difficult road, but one we all have to embark on together.