Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Koch's Wealth

I recently reviewed some of the numbers concerning the combined wealth of the Koch brothers. For those who don't know, the Kochs are oil moguls from Kansas who has accumulated approximately $103 billion in net worth over the course of their lifetimes.

Now, I don't consider myself to be too much of a radical, but I can realize injustice when I see it. The injustice of this net worth is that it is greater than the combined worth of 40.2% of American households. One might wonder what the Kochs do with that amount of money, as it is difficult to even visualize. One outlet or expenditure they have found is campaign or super pac financing. For the 2012 election cycle, the Koch brothers have pledged to spend $400 million to finance Republican candidates... an obscene amount that would not have been possible prior to the Citizens United  decision of 2009.

What bothers me most about this electoral reality is the fact that the Kochs are spending money as a benefit to their own self interests. Unfortunately, those self interests too often run against the interests of millions of Americans. If they Koch's financial backing of Republicans proves successful in November, their chosen candidates will work to overturn healthcare reform, cut important social programs, and decrease financial and environmental regulation. All these policy possibilities will hurt the 40.2% of Americans that the Kochs overpower. Because of the Koch's $103 billion net worth, the voices of 40.2% of American households are muffled, if not muted. The voices of people who may be unable to afford adequate healthcare; may be unable to put food on their dinner table; and may be in need of those government programs to survive... government programs that the Kochs would love to see disappear.

The American free market is a beautiful thing, and people who are able to ethically take full advantage of it (generally speaking) deserve their reward. The Kochs have been able to do just that, and deserve admiration for their efforts. What they do not deserve accolades for is their poisoning of American democracy... a poisoning that only stands to hurt millions of American families.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Impoverished Injustice

It has been quite some time since my last post; this partially due to lack of inspiration and, my recent transition into the real world. In my return to blogging I wanted to draw attention to a recent article I read, which highlights some of the injustices of the American caste system. This article is not alone in explaining the exorbitantly profitable business that is preying on the poor. A common example might be predatory loans, fine print fuck-yous, and of course, sub prime mortgages. Money-hungry financial institutions are not the only cuprits of this kind of injustice. If we look at the US penal system we understand that the poor are a very vulnerable sub population, who face a lifetime of lost opportunity, un payable fines, and criminal activity for an offense as minor as having a few flakes of cannabis.

I like to make note of this injustice because it is committed against people who lack any strong voice. Furthermore, in our society of pick-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps we can too easily pass unsuccessful people off as incompetent of inefficient Americans, people who don't try hard enough to succeed. I believe this to be one of the saddest realities that millions of Americans face. We live in a time where people are getting poorer, and opportunity is becoming less and less available. We are allowing for those least among us to vacillate between an impoverished life and complete destitution. Considering the complexity of this, there is no easy fix. What might present itself as a solution is a combination of  government programs, financial regulation, and general social awareness. 

Pardon the simplicity of this post. I am still working through some of these recent understandings and am overwhelmed at my own ignorance, complacency and participation in this problem. What needs to be taken from this is a renewed sense of understanding about how we treat the most vulnerable people in our society, especially at a time when that vulnerable population is growing everyday.