Tikkun Winter 2019 (34.1) - Page 7

EDI TORIAL O UR WORLD IS IN DEEP TROUBLE . BILLIONS OF PEOPLE ARE IN PAIN . That pain is partly caused by the unfair distribution of wealth all around the world, most of it in the hands of super-wealthy elites who are protected by national gov- ernments, military, police and the media, cultural institutions, and educa- tional institutions that they own or fund. In the United States: • The median American family saw their wealth drop 3% between 1983 and 2016, while the richest 0.1% have seen their wealth jump 133%. • During this same period, the annual increase for White median family wealth was about $1,000. Latino median family wealth went up by $66 annually and Black median family wealth dropped $83 annually. Meanwhile, the average household in the top 1% saw their wealth jump by half a million dollars annually. • The Forbes 400 richest Americans own more wealth than all Black households plus a quarter of Latino households. • Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, owns $160 billion in total wealth. That is 44 mil- lion times more wealth than the median Black family and 24 million times more wealth than the median Latino family. On a positive note, 59% of Americans support raising the marginal tax rate on Amer- ica’s top bracket of income earners to 70% as proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez, according to polling from The Hill—HarrisX. Even 45% of Republican voters support a 70% marginal tax on income over $10 million. In other words, any income earned over $10 million would be taxed at 70%. All income earned by that person below $10 million would be taxed at the current marginal tax rate. The current top marginal tax rate is 37%. “ Only by publicly challenging the The economic suffering in our society is severe and the underlying assumptions of the gap between the rich and everyone else is only widening. powerful and their system can Economic pain alone, however, is not the only cause of people’s anguish. As I argue in more detail in my newest we begin to build support for the book Revolutionary Love, (forthcoming in Fall 2019 from fundamental changes needed. University of California Press), a very significant section of Americans, and many others in every country whose economic and social arrangements are primarily shaped by the ethos of materialism, selfish- ness, and “me-firstism” of the competitive marketplace, suffer from a lack of adequate love, kindness, generosity, and meaning to their lives. To compensate for this lack, almost never addressed in a comprehensive and persua- sive way by the liberal and progressive forces, many people get attracted to reaction- ary forms of religion and nationalism that offer an experience of community and higher purpose. The “my country first” consciousness has been taken to an extreme by the Trumpites; variants of that same “me-firstism” shape the policies and “common sense” not only of the wealthy elites, but even of many who are actually suffering from VOL. 34, NO. 1 © 2019 TIKKUN MAGAZINE ” 7