Saturday, March 29, 2014

Chris Arnade — The Pope, Obama and a Former Banker Walk Into a Slum—Does the 1% Still Win?

Barack Obama is not Pope Francis, and not just because the slums of Buenos Aires are so much worse than the South Side of Chicago. Pope Francis knows, in a visceral way, that the income equality we have in the US and Europe will get much worse if nothing changes. More importantly, he knows that these first-world problems are embryonic relative to those back home in Argentina.
The pope knows that the US is moving toward a Latin America-style economy, one wherein the Koch brothers get multiplied many times over – one wherein the wealthy don’t just want more money or opportunity, they want power. The problem with Francis’ Argentina writ large is a 1% that wants a political system run with the intent to guarantee that their wealth is never threatened. The problem with that is a wealthy class that wants the working class to be disposable, voiceless and immobilized.
This is the real issue President Obama faces: he needs to stare down, as Pope Francis has, the morally and intellectually corrupt philosophy that unregulated free markets help everyone.
It is a philosophy at the heart of the American conservative movement.When needed, conservatives drag out a gaggle of economists to argue their position. These economists, always a thoughtful lot when it comes to human behavior, know the wealthy will benefit far more. Yet the GOP’s sham philosophers argue that growth, even if unevenly distributed, will be a net benefit – because the winners will win more than the losers lose. We will then all share the winnings, goes this bankrupt economic philosophy, either by way of investments that boost jobs, or else from politically forced redistribution by way of taxes.
The sharing-the-winnings part never happens....

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