The Land Of The (Not So) Free
Slavery has been ruling American society since its inception. For 300 years, over ten million African Americans forced into brutal labor from birth till death. Manual slavery ended over 150 years ago; however a form of modern slavery has become ever more evident in today’s society. Common people work hard for the entirety of their life, and still struggle to make ends meet. The wealthy keep getting wealthier and the poor stay poor. Economic inequality has created a modern slavery, and the common man is suffering dearly in modern day America.
Income inequality (the gap between rich and poor) has been widening dramatically since 1980. The wealthy are reaping benefits, and the poor are struggling just to get by. Income inequality has become so severe in the U.S. that having simple necessities has become nearly impossible for many to attain. On the other hand, there are Americans that have too much money to know what to do with. Income inequality shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon, and that is the way those at the top want it, creating this problem. The government (which is controlled by wealthy companies) claims they help the poor but that is false. By way of taxing, they put in place welfare programs such as food stamps and section eight housing. However, if one would look deeper into the tax system, the only people being helped are the wealthy.As Heather Long of CNN money explains, “The U.S. tax system is supposed to help the poor. Yet even after-tax income shows that the bottom 50% averaged just $25,000 a person in 2014, according to the latest data. That’s just a touch above the $20,000 someone in the bottom half earned way back in 1974 (after adjusting for inflation).” Taxation has fed into the system, where only the rich can prosper. Treating the poor like they are ignorant (much like the masters did with the slaves), they claim they are helping. Unfortunately the government is doing far from helping the poor.
America prides itself on not only being the land of the free, but also the land of equal opportunity. A place where anybody can come to be a success. America is intended to be a place where children are almost guaranteed more wealth than their parents. Unfortunately since 1980, children aren’t becoming more successful than their parents. GDP, corporate profit, and the top 1% growth has been rising significantly (all eclipsing over 100 percent growth). However, the median household income has only risen 16% (with inflation that is almost no growth). Edwin Rios explains, “Despite such overdue gains, average American households are barely making more than they did in 1980. Median household incomes have risen just 17 percent (in real dollars) during the past 35 years.” The system is designed for the rich to succeed, and the non-rich are not a concern for the government.
The inflation rates (and in turn the groups that succeed) are largely determined by policies created by the government. This is due to the government being run by wealthy individuals and corporate entities. The average salary of a congressman is $174,000, and the average American salary is roughly $51,000. Many of these congressmen are given bonuses by corporations for them to vote on amendments that will help the company. For example, New Jersey senator Corey Booker has been given $385,000 since 2011 by big pharmaceutical companies. Just recently the senator has voted against an amendment that would allow Americans to purchase cheaper medicine from Canada. Booker is not the only congressmen doing this. Most of the congressmen and women (both Republicans and Democrats) are being paid by giant corporations. This is why we see the wealthy getting wealthier but nobody else. Even as they are getting wealthier, the government still takes money from the non- wealthy; but claims they are helping.
Pharmaceutical ownership of politicians has created an inequality of basic needs among American citizens. Economic inequality does not only distinguish whether an individual drives a new BMW or a Honda sedan. It also decides what type of health care one can afford. Many can afford the basic survival health care; however, those in poverty can not. This inability to receive basic health care access creates problems that shouldn’t be existent in the land of the free. Much like the slaves 150 years ago, the economic inequality is not a matter of working hard, the dedication is there. Not having basic healthcare for all has caused a life expectancy change between the wealthy and poor. As Sabrina Tavernise of the New York Times reports, “For men born in 1950, that difference had more than doubled, to 14 years.” As medical advancements are made, only the rich get to enjoy the benefits. This is not what a true land of equal opportunity would do.
A large number of the upper class are made up of CEOs who dictate their own salaries. Salaries of most professions are market driven, which means exactly what it says, that the market determines the salaries. CEOs of the super companies get to raise their own income whenever they please, creating extremely high salaries. Unlike the CEOs most Americans have to wait on the the slow moving market to change their salaries. Markets take awhile to increase salaries, which is why this creates this economic inequality. The CEOs raise their salaries significantly, but the average worker’s salary raises at a slow rate.
The wealthy are given numerous opportunities to succeed, while the poor get stuck in a rut. For example, college is a place where many get to start their success in whatever they choose. Wealthy students can become successful, as the high tuition rates are not a burden for them. However, the poor cannot afford to go to college. Due to this dilemma, (more often than not), those in the low income bracket end up in their parent’s profession. The makes it difficult for children to surpass their parents wealth, which used to be a staple of America.So as the rich can keep on increasing their salary, the poor have to keep the same salary, hence inequality of the income growth.
Income inequality in America has created a problem of not only lavish things, a problem of life necessities. Many Americans can’t even afford necessary health care. As the government and its rulers are getting richer, the average American is getting poorer. Many Americans are living in more dangerous environments, exposed to deadly situations, and can only afford unhealthy food and drink options. An example is Flint, Michigan. Flint residents can’t even get clean water, while many Americans, including politicians, have money they have no idea what to do with. A communist society is definitely not the way to go; however, for America to claim it is the land of equal opportunity is a far stretch. For this claim to come true, America has to fix many issues; sadly, it doesn’t seem like that is going to happen anytime soon.
Modern day American slavery is crippling the poverty of the country. The modern day American slavery, that comes in the form of the common man being ruled and abused by the big government. There is no bondage in today’s America, but the government restricts many of its citizens from having freedom. The poor have significantly less availability for programs that are intended to help leave that poverty. College has become a necessity; however, it is not available to those in poverty. Today’s jobs are set up in a way, that in order to earn a livable wage, a college education is necessary. Creating this rigged system has only increased the poverty rate in recent years. As the poverty rate increases, many other rates such as life expectancy and overall quality of life change. Modern day slavery in America (the poor being owned and ruled by the rich) is only increasing in America, and those in power want to keep it that way.
of CNN money reports that those in upper class have at least one of a few crucial components. Most are either college grads, come from two-parent families, are white, or never experienced unemployment in their childhood household (many have all of these components). The upper class students are given the tools to make a success out of themselves because they can afford college and are taught financial literacy, while those without access to these luxuries follow a path towards economic instability. This is why 70% of those in poverty stay in poverty. The system is becoming rigged against the poor so the wealthy can prosper.
The problems that cause poverty are often due to government negligence. Because the government is run by the wealthy, the poor often get forgotten. From the President down to each member of congress, the majority of the Washington politicians are millionaires. The rich control the economy and guide it to aid themselves, leaving the poor out of the picture. The system is clearly set up to help the rich and hurt the poor. For example, taxes are hinted to be put into programs to help everyone, but that is false. Programs like food stamps and section eight housing do in fact give aid to the poor. However, food stamps and section eight housing are funded through taxes (which they already pay). Almost everything the poor (along with all Americans) purchase has a tax on it. That tax money is controlled by the wealthy government and they do whatever they want with it. The government claim taxes help the poor; however, those who get help from the government-assisted programs actually lose money. Justin King, policy director of the Asset Building Program at the New America Foundation, describes it: “While the government promotes wealth building for some—largely through the mortgage tax deduction and other tax loopholes used mainly by the middle and upper class—it actually discourages wealth building for the poor.” The government claims they help the poverty through taxation; however, they actually hurt the poor.
Those in poverty do not have access to simple necessity such as healthcare or decent food. This has caused the life expectancy to be significantly lower in low-income cities. According to a survey done by Harvard University, the life expectancy of the top 1% and the bottom 1% has a difference of about 12 years. Not having access to decent food or healthcare is causing this epidemic. To not have simple necessities such as doctor visits or epi-pens available to everyone does not sound like the land of equal opportunity. The rich get not only a better life, but on average, a longer one too.
Many have tried to install a universal healthcare act; however, every attempt has failed. The sad truth is that the there is too much money to be made in medicine being expensive. The pharmaceutical companies would lose billions if they made their products available to the poor. So they would rather have the people die in order to make a profit. Those in poverty have to choose rent or a necessary drug (such as insulin.) Factors like these are what cause the difference in life expectancies. Since these people are unable to earn their way out of poverty, they are forced into living like this.
College tuition rates are increasing dramatically, making it more of a burden for low income household students to pay for. The average college tuition for the 2016-2017 school year is approximately $33,000 (and the minimum wage salary is only $15,000 a year). There are some programs to help college students with tuition (e.g. financial aid), however, it doesn’t actually help those in poverty too much (the tuition often exceeds the $15,000 mark). Often to afford the high tuition, low income students are forced to take out loans. These loans are often extremely difficult to pay off, creating enormous amounts of debt. High tuition rates (which lead to student debt) are making it extremely difficult for those in poverty to get out of the that predicament. The debt is owed to the government, whose only goal is to get more money out of the student. The government doesn’t think about helping out those in poverty; they are only focused on the wealthy.
Unfortunately those who come from the poverty income bracket have a very low chance of escaping that income bracket. Due to the system being catered to the rich, those in poverty do not get to experience their life’s goals. Instead they have to work a minimum wage job, and be forced to make unfortunate decisions, such as choosing rent over insulin. While the rich get richer, the poor stay poor. The land of equal opportunity unfortunately has become the land of the rich.
Even with undeniable evidence, many will still claim that America is still the land of the free. Since the Declaration of Independence was signed, Americas still has been a country of slavery. African Americans were forced into bondage for the first 90 years after the Declaration was signed. Bondage is not present in today’s America; however, a new type of slavery has emerged. The new modern American slavery come in the form of the poverty are being ruled and misrepresented by the American government. Arguers say that America is still the land of the free, where all men have an opportunity to prosper. David Azzerad writes in his article for heritage.org, “America is the land of the free. That all men and women possess an equal right to liberty is one of the great self-evident truths proclaimed by the Declaration of Independence.” Azzerad gives the argument that America is in fact the land of the free, where everyone can become a success.
Azzerad claims that income inequality is a poor measure in determining the freedom of all Americans. “A rise in income inequality does not lead to a decline in economic mobility or to an economic slowdown and therefore does not threaten the American Dream.” This claim may seem to make sense; however, it is wrong. Income inequality does indeed lead to a decline in economic mobility. It is rather simple, as the economy gets shifted more in favor of the wealthy the poor get forgotten. The poor do not have the same economic mobility or economic tools to prosper. Many are stuck in poverty with no way out. Jeremy Ashkenas of the New York Times reports, “The average pretax earnings of an American in the bottom 50 percent by income was $16,197 in 2014, a nearly invisible 2.6 percent gain over 40 years. Over the same period, the top 10 percent of Americans saw their pretax incomes grow by 231 percent.” As American economic mobility declines, so does the overall American dream.
Arguers like to put forth the claim that those in poverty in America would be considered rich in many countries around the world. They claim all Americans are fortunate to be able to live in this great country and no matter the situation be it poor or rich, Americans should be entirely grateful, as Azzerad claims, “Even those who fail to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by this country or who do not succeed in their ventures will still benefit from the general prosperity generated by the American commercial republic.” Unfortunately the commercial republic that once helped all Americans (even the poor) has been exterminated. In present day America those in poverty are having difficulty attaining simple necessities, such as housing and healthcare. Not having housing is not benefiting from general prosperity of America. That is a definition of poverty in any county, and explains why America is falling on the world economy scale as well.
Americans are claimed to be free in all aspects of life by Azzerad, “Though the term economic freedom does not appear in the Founders’ writings, it underpins their vision of a commercial republic and perfectly captures their overarching commitment to property rights, the rule of law, and free markets.” For many years, America had been the most economic free country in the world. Giving advantages for all people to prosper no matter where they start. Unfortunately in the 2016 Fraser Institute Economic Freedom list, America has fallen down to number 16. This is largely due to entrepreneurs not investing in companies anymore. The government has created a more complex tax code, more regulations, and the complexity of healthcare in the country. Citizens are becoming more and more stricken by the big government. We are becoming slaves to them. Only a few Americans have economic freedom, counter to Azzerad’s claim.
Arguers claim that America is the land of the free even as more liberties are being stripped away from the people. The wealthy government aids the rich while the poor get forgotten. In a country that is supposed to be equal, not everyone is equal. Through bondage, a corrupt government, and unequal rights, America has shown that it is not the land of the free.
Income inequality has become a severe problem in modern day America. Individuals in the low income bracket are working harder, but still can not prosper. The system has been only set up to help the rich as the poor are forgotten. While a fix is possible, it doesn’t seem to be in the near future. Unfortunately, the rich make too much money off of income inequality for that too happen. Without a miraclous change, Income inequality will only grow larger in America.
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