A Moral Imperative
American politics have become such a political football that no matter what side you are on, it seems to be more about noise than progress. If you really listen, you may realize that the one resolution that could truly make the United States greater as a nation and have enormous benefits to its citizenry is never discussed.
And that is the problem of poverty and wealth distribution.
There are 45 million people in the U.S. living below the poverty line, and millions more among the working poor. This should be an embarrassment to those who are wealthy. Put the government aside; the wealthy citizens of our country have the resources to fix a good part of the problem, and we should be driven to do it because it is the right thing to do.
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Think about it. Since 1980, all the increase in wealth in our country has gone to the wealthiest 10 percent. That should strike everyone as unfair. The reasons are numerous, but the most important factor may be our own progress. As we have moved through the technological age, capital has become more and more important and labor has become less and less important in the production of goods and services.
Less fortunate people lack the opportunity to accumulate capital while living from paycheck to paycheck and therefore are never able to benefit from the accumulation of capital.
The government could try to correct this by increasing taxes on the rich and significantly increasing the minimum wage, but our government does not seem inclined to do that, nor are our citizens willing to pay more in taxes. This is understandable to a certain degree because once you pay your taxes you have no control on how it is spent. Nor do I think it would resolve the problem.
But! What if every American family with a net worth of more than $5 million voluntarily chose to invest 5 percent of their wealth in businesses from which they would not benefit financially. The profit from those businesses would be fully distributed to those they employed, and those employees would agree to save a percentage of their profit-sharing so they could accumulate some wealth themselves. In time, the investors could cede ownership to those employees.
The investor would have no financial return. As a matter of fact, his portfolio will be reduced by the amount of his investment. That investment will instead change many lives for the better, making better citizens, stronger families and help restore economic balance to our country.
This is not socialism; it is compassionate-capitalism at its finest.
For the investor, the hand up he has given those who have been bereft of opportunities will be more rewarding than any increase in wealth. If we want a better America, it has to start with the acknowledgment that too many of our citizens are struggling, and we will not rely on our government to fix it.
Our sense of fairness and compassion will motivate our citizens to find solutions.
The writers live in North Myrtle Beach.