Tuesday, February 05, 2013

The Relationship between Peace and Economic Equality

The current distribution of wealth in the United States is extremely skewed towards the wealthy – more so than in any other developed country.  This inequality results in the unavoidable reality that there are insufficient economic resources available for the majority of the nation's citizens.

This situation has been severely exacerbated by the economic downturn precipitated by the Great Recession that began in 2008.  This economic reversal was caused, for the most part, by the unwise, cavalier and often extra-legal activities of the major financial institutions that led to widespread unemployment and a rash of home mortgage foreclosures.  The consequences of this monumental economic catastrophe were so severe that a bailout involving vast sums of public money was required.

Notwithstanding this most recent event, the core issues gravitate around fundamental problems that have been in evidence for many years.  These include:

-          -Large numbers of low wage and minimum wage jobs that are inadequate for survival within the modern economy

-          -A national health care system that fails to effectively serve tens of millions of vulnerable and at-risk men, women, children and the elderly

-         - A housing market that is geared towards maximizing profit and, therefore, fails to build low-cost housing in sufficient number to serve those in need of affordable shelter

-         - Public policy at the local, state and federal level that invariably caters to the needs of the affluent and corporate classes to the exclusion of those with the most need.  These policy choices are dictated by the intimate relationship that exists between politics and money.  The net impact of this collaboration is the paradoxical dismantling of the Commons.  This is, in effect, a form of reverse socialism where resources flow from the many in need to the few who have an abundance of wealth to begin with

-         - A lack of social resolve around the important issue of gun control

The net effect of these intrinsic factors is a dangerous increase in poverty especially among the most vulnerable, personal bankruptcy that is often triggered by a major health crisis, homelessness, infrastructure collapse, the rise of a thriving black market and the indiscriminate use of deadly firearms against innocent people.

It is, therefore, not surprising that this array of economic conditions and their natural consequences promotes social instability.  The fact the wealthiest nation in the world can tolerate this severe disparity between the living conditions, well-being and longevity of its citizens based on economic status is suggestive of a deep-seated malaise that undermines the real prospects for peace.

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