4/2/2014 10:32:00 AM Letter: Poorest people can't afford bootstraps
There are many convincing, but misleading arguments that can be used to support just about any political leaning we might choose. Typical is one used to quote Abraham Lincoln: "Property is the fruit of labor - that some should be rich shows that others may also become rich and hence it is just encouragement to industry and enterprise."
Apparently today, we are to assume that the low-paid food worker and the fellow who supports his family in the fields by picking lettuce is encouraged by the fact that he might also become rich. Not very realistic now, is it?
It's like the conservative's support of the "trickle down" theory by pointing to the argument that a rising tide lifts all boats. The problem is that the poor just can't afford boats. "Let the poor pick themselves up by their own bootstraps," we conservatives say. Problem is, the poorest can't afford boots.
As conservatives, we sometimes exalt the liberty to accumulate wealth with rationalizations that show little regard for those less advantaged. Some say the rich get their wealth because they just work harder. But, who works harder than America's working poor-the ones who in spite of their efforts never get a chance to get rich? The fruits of their labor are limited to what they can pick.
Time magazine reported (Feb. 10, 2014) that the gap between the rich and poor has grown in the U.S. since the early 1970s. From 2009-2012 the top one percent of incomes rose by more than 30 percent while the rest grew by less than one half of one percent! Over the past five decades, the richest one percent of Americans has seen their average real incomes jump more than 270 percent. The least wealthy 90 percent grew only 22 percent!
So much for the trickle down theory. Does the rising tide lift all boats? Do the wealthy get more because they work harder? Are the poor encouraged by the success of the wealthy?