I was recently in the mountains of Northern Georgia and around several bends in the road and tucked down in some holler there’d be a sort of enclave of broken down house trailers where people were eking out some kind of a life for themselves. There’s nothing unique about this, you can see the same thing in any state and any city, people barely getting along.
What caught my eye in Georgia however, were the occasional displays of rabbit support for Donald Trump. There would be weather-worn commercial MAGA flags and Trump signs along with crudely painted Trump signs made from whatever flat surface could be found.
As always I was stunned at the support given to a man who has no knowledge of or affinity towards these hidden Americans. Trump doesn’t know they exist and even if he does, he doesn’t care. He has made no effort to address the needs of poor Americans, in fact, just the contrary. His most recent budget proposal calls for drastic cuts into Medicaid and SNAP, both federal programs that often spell life or death for the poor.
I was listening to a couple of economists being interviewed by Lawrence O’Donnell and the subject was the ever-growing income disparity in America, and the world. The numbers made me think of what I observed in Georgia’s Appalachians, poor and working class people in America are not doing well, at all. Consider these facts:
- 400 Americans control more wealth than 150 million Americans in the bottom 50% of the population. Simply put, there are a few amazingly rich people in America who can do a lot more than just buy their kids a seat at Harvard or Georgetown.
- The divide between the rich and the rest of us continues to widen and one of the worst effects is the weakening of the bonds that hold us together as a democratic nation. As America becomes more politically polarized the economic gap widens.
- 40% of Americans are earning less than $15 an hour. On a 40 hour week that adds up to an annual wage of less than $31,000 not counting taxes. The average wage in America is $55,000 so the mentioned 40% is really struggling.
- The average bank teller at the nation’s large bank makes $12 an hour and that is about 40% less than required to barely pay the cost of living in many of the nation’s larger cities.
While I could cite more similar statistics the point is made, more than half of Americans aren’t doing well and a small percentage are doing fantastic. Under Trump lauded tax cut this is becoming truer. The rich got richer and the poor didn’t. While employment is at a high mark, wages are stagnant. And, while wages are stagnant the cost of living is soaring.
As the wealth divide has widened there has been a discussion in America concerning how much longer the masses will remain tolerant. Trump himself warned several years ago that if things didn’t improve for the masses the rich better begin worrying about the “pitchforks in the streets.”
This is all a paradox for me. The rich have not paid attention to the people and the huge tax cuts they received are not trickling down. Statistics show that life in America when compared to other nations, has not gotten better. In fact, we’re losing ground in many important areas. March 20th was International Happiness Day and the annual report on most happy countries was released. As usual, the winners were those nations of Scandinavia with Finland being number one. American was 19th, having fallen from18th the previous year.
The economic, social, and political realities of America in 2019 are obvious to anyone wanting to open their eyes and take an honest look. I am trouble so much by there being so many not willing to this. So willing to continue believing the Wizard is real and is all knowing. Donald is no Wizard but like the Wizard in Oz, he has no substance.