Mon, Apr

Protection From Those Causing Income Inequality ... If They Are The Ones Decrying It?


ALPERN AT LARGE-The best analogy of those screaming the loudest about Income Inequality is of a cat that obsessively bats around a toy mouse--the cat can't seem to control itself, nothing definitive is ever accomplished, and the movement of the mouse that catches the eye (and paw) of the cat is actually caused by the cat.  

Unfortunately, while those raising the issue the most (the Corporate Left) are cat-like in their obsession and "catty" in their methods--disagree with them and you're demonized as an inhuman, heartless monster instead of someone who merely has an opposing but still caring point of view...so you're not "allowed" to disagree with them--we have to ask ourselves who or what the "toy mouse" they're batting around really is. 

That "toy mouse", which represents the hapless segments of our American population who suffer from the talking points and reality of Income Inequality can be found in Detroit.  Chicago.  New York.  Los Angeles.  Silicon Valley.  All the places that conservatives and open-minded liberals and moderates have been forced to flee, and where they're pretty much told they're not wanted, and where the Corporate Left now rules. 

The Corporate Left, of course, is comprised of those who have self-canonized and self-appointed themselves to speak for the "ignorant masses", and who have "figured out" how to create a New Economy and who have determined who will be wealthy, and who will not be wealthy, by creating an ever-growing set of Rules for us all to have to abide in order to protect us from "those rich tyrants" over there...or there...or there. 

Some called this Socialism, some call this Economic Justice, and some recall a book by Orwell called "Animal Farm" where the leaders of the animals who overthrew their farmer overlords figured out that "some were more equal than others" and ended up looking just like those farmers. 

So when we REALLY want to talk about Income Inequality...in short, it's BAD.  

It can be looked at in two ways:  

1) We're being victimized by those gaming the system to prevent the little guy from getting ahead. 

2) We're being talked out of believing that we can control our own lives to move forward and make our own lives better. 

Either way, the Middle Class--healthy to all vibrant economies and societies throughout history--best represents a segment of the population that is NOT born into wealth and either:

1) Believes it CAN get wealthy by doing whatever it takes, if just given a fair break. 

2) Has no desire to kill itself to get rich, but will do whatever it takes to not be poor, either. 

During periods of low unemployment, the average worker can tell underpaying and misbehaving bosses to "take this job and shove it", but during periods of high unemployment, these same bosses can threaten and abuse the average worker into submission. 

We are now "self-selecting" into diverging segments of society that are either screaming loudly that there's "nothing we can do" about our economic doldrums, or is acting privately to "do what it takes" to avoid poverty.  Moving to a state such as Texas or North Dakota, or anywhere in the nation that there's a job, is both scary and yet highly profitable for those who do it. 

I've had enough patients, friends and family members leave the Golden State--some liberal, some conservative, but all determined to "do what it takes" to stay in the middle class or higher--to know that locally and statewide, we're still suffering under a vicious cycle of those decrying Income Inequality the loudest but are causing it, thereby giving themselves more talking points to decry the problem they're creating (or at least exacerbating). 

Deficit spending, not enacting pension reform, spending money in unwise ways and for unwise initiatives...this is always a problem with our cities, counties and state, but California seems to do a better job of it than most other states.  Not exactly a proud talking point, or a pleasant talking point...but it's true. 

Our energy policies?  Our water policies?  Our transportation policies?  Is it enshrined in the constitutions of the cities, counties and states that they HAVE to be cost-ineffective?  Voters want cleaner and smarter energy, water and infrastructure...but does it always have to be 2-3 times as expensive as it currently is to bring our region and state into the 21st Century? 

How does sky-high water, energy and gasoline costs help Income Inequality?  

Will the Corporate Left-controlled policies of water, energy and transportation infrastructure make it easier for poor and middle class families and individuals to have their money work for them?  Or will they be told to live with less...and rationalize a variety of reasons why they MUST appreciate that living with less is GOOD. 

Meanwhile, those who've had enough of the crazy-talk--liberal, conservative, or apolitical--move away with their capital to other states where they can enjoy a happier quality of life and afford a house with a big yard that's connected to all sorts of destinations by well-kept roads. 

It's certainly a smart idea by encouraging legal immigration by trained, educated professionals and entrepreneurs who have and bring capital into the state--and who want to be part of our society.  But are we instead encouraging a wave of sub-minimum wage, relatively uneducated and untrained (albeit often hard-working) individuals who (with their employers) live and work here illegally? 

Did the huge wave of illegal immigration since the amnesty of the 1980's help elevate the minimum wage and calm our Income Inequality...or exacerbate it?  

And do we dare ask ourselves why the reality of Asian and other illegal immigrants flies below our collective radar screen, because (by and large) these immigrants who overstay their visas usually choose to blend in, eschew public assistance, and raise their economic stature to achieve the American Dream?  

Where is the political leadership to demand that ALL native-born and foreign-born Americans "do what it takes" to be part of the American Melting Pot, achieve the American Dream, and to do it legally?  How is flooding the state with cheap labor, and shouting down those decrying any employers or workers breaking the law, helping Income Inequality? 

And then there's the latest talking/screaming point from the Corporate Left:  raising the minimum wage in a willy-nilly manner that decreases hiring (do we REALLY want to emulate high-unemployment Europe?) , and ignores the fact that employees who increase their skill set and prove their merits already GET better wages...or quit their low-wage jobs and "do what it takes" to move to higher-wage jobs? 

Which doesn't mean we can't raise the minimum wage, but do we have to do it for all new hires?  Do we at least acknowledge that there's a need for a probation period?  Do we want all workers to have "tenure"? 

Do we at least create some acknowledgement of the rising costs of health care benefits (which Obamacare has done little to nothing about) by creating incentives for employers to provide health care, retirement and other benefits...instead of constantly ATTACKING employers, who will hire less and encourage bad behavior among employers by creating an advantage for those who choose to NOT play by the rules? 

So (again!) we've got a vicious circle from the Corporate Left that only promotes, and doesn't relieve, Income Inequality--scream about Income Inequality, enact policies that exacerbate it, and then scream about it some more. 

While those who've caused the problem, and worsen the problem, are conveniently absolved from blame because they're perceived as decrying the problem the loudest. 

We must protect our society from Income Inequality...but how can we protect ourselves from those causing it, if we're not able to recognize they are, in fact, CAUSING IT?


(Ken Alpern is a Westside Village Zone Director and Boardmember of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee.  He is co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at [email protected] .  He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us .  The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.)






Vol 12 Issue 12

Pub: Feb 11, 2014 

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