Every now and then I come across an article or hear someone on the radio talking about the gap between the rich and the poor getting larger. They’ll typically throw out a stat saying something like “The economy grew X amount, and the top 1% saw 90% of that growth” (I just made up those numbers). Then they’ll mention that the CEO of whatever company earned $3 million last year and received a bonus in December, but Suzy Q’s salary at the deli didn’t change. It is a story that pulls at our emotions and makes many people shake their heads in disgust at the corporate greed and the disconnect between the super-rich and the vanishing middle class. However, my reaction is, “Who cares?”.
The fact is, the gap doesn’t matter at all. We’re all acquiring more wealth, which means, whether we’re rich or poor, we’re wealthier. Wealth is not necessarily measured by dollars. It is irrelevant how much more money someone makes than me as long as society as a whole is moving forward.
Think about it. Is there a better place in the history of the world to be poor than today in the United States of America? The government defines the poverty line as a family of 4 earning $23,550. That means there are 46 million Americans living in poverty. Yet, 99.5% of all households have a refrigerator, 90% of all American adults have a computerized gadget (cell phone, computer, mp3, etc), 74% of those in poverty have a car, 30% have 2 or more, and 63% of our poor have cable or satellite TV. According to a Rasmussen poll, children are hungry in .25% of households, only 1% of households have a member who must miss 1 meal a day, and 96% of poor adults say they have enough to feed their children.
I’m not saying that the poor in this country should just be satisfied and not try to improve their situation, but even Julius Caesar, only one of the most powerful men in the history of the world, didn’t have a refrigerator. There is nothing at all wrong with the rich getting richer. It can be a good thing. Take a good look at the luxury goods they have, they’ll most likely be ours in a few years. Take the cell phone for example.
It wasn’t that long ago that only the richest of the rich had a cell phone. Remember what a cell phone used to look like in the 90s? I thought Zach Morris was so cool, but I wasn’t sure that his phone was actually real. I heard they existed, but I didn’t know anyone who owned one. I can only imagine what the service was like and the roaming charges were probably astronomical. Yet today in middle schools all over the country teachers are scolding kids for texting during class. The phones the poor people have in 2013 were only dreamed of 15 years ago by the general public. Having a phone, camera, and internet in your hand at all times? No way! Not to mention the internet on phones today is way fast than it was in the mid 90s.
My point is, there very well may be a widening gap between the rich and the poor, but the poor today, with running water, clothes, a refrigerator, and a car, are living better than most of history’s kings and nobles. And for that you can thank the Enlightenment and the free market. After millennia of stagnation, the world has never seen economic growth like it has since the development of freedom.
God Bless Freedom, Liberty, and Personal Property,
Slappy Jones II