There are two very different Americas today. In one, the stock market is soaring, high end homes are selling briskly, big banks and hedge funds are rolling in money as if the last financial crisis never even happened, and life is really, really good. In the other America, good jobs are incredibly scarce, incomes are declining, and poverty is skyrocketing to levels that we have never seen before. The gap between the wealthy and the poor in America is getting wider with each passing day. In fact, it is my contention that the U.S. has an even larger gap between the rich and the poor than Downton Abbey does. If you have never seen Downton Abbey, you really should. It is one of the most extraordinary shows to appear on television in years. It is a drama set in the UK which follows the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants throughout the early part of the 20th Century. It can be a bit jarring to watch servants wait on their masters hand and foot and refer to them by such titles as “Lord” and “Lady”, but the truth is that in many ways there is more inequality today than there was back then. As far as people living in the worst areas of cities such as Detroit and Cleveland are concerned, the socialites that live on Fifth Avenue in New York City or in multi-million dollar homes out in the Hamptons might as well be from another planet. If you have lots of money, America is still a really great place to live. If you barely have any money, America can be really cold and cruel. Sadly, our politicians continue to pursue policies that make things even better for those working for the establishment in places such as Washington D.C. and Manhattan, and worse for all the rest of us. This has especially been true over the course of the past four years. If nothing is done, the gaping chasm between the rich and the poor will continue to get even worse, and in the end that will have some really severe consequences for our society.
So is the answer to raise taxes and “redistribute” more money to the poor? Of course not. Today, we are already paying dozens of different kinds of taxes every year and the government is handing out more money to people than ever before. But poverty just