Sunday, April 17, 2016

Pope Francis, problems of the poor, and the distribution of wealth

I snagged this quote from a Facebook post by a rabid Bernie Sanders-supporter friend of mine.

I think you can read what Pope Francis says here and interpret it in different ways.

One way, is to read what is said as a direct endorsement of Bernie Sanders' perceived political position that America should become a socialist democracy like Sweden or Denmark. [Since Sanders met with the pope a few days ago, this would make sense.]

But another way to read it is that Francis is just demanding that extreme inequality that exists in America and elsewhere must be addressed.

I think we can address the problems of profoundly unfair distribution of wealth without making America more socialist. We can make it illegal to "bribe" businesses -- including sports teams, like the Kings -- to make their headquarters in your city or town. Sports teams, and other businesses, should play/operate wherever they like, based on their analysis of where they would be most successful.

I don't think that anybody works so hard and is so damn brilliant that his/her labor is worth more than a million dollars per year. We have a minimum wage in this country to protect businesses from being abusive. We should, as well, have a maximum salary/wage, to protect against Boards of Directors of corporations lavishly enriching friends who are administrators from being absurdly way, way, way overcompensated for their work. 

We need to end the circumstance where banks and other finance-related businesses gamble with their money and create situations such as the mortgage crisis [i.e,, the Great Recession of 2008]. Banks must be restricted to activities that are the traditional province of banks.

People who make a lot of money from their work and from investments should be taxed appropriately. Over the history of our country, the tax rates have been raised for rich people such that the country could recover from the expense of the Revolutionary War; the Great Depression; and World Wars I and II.  A tax rate of something like 50% or 60% for income over a million dollars would be appropriate for the next decade or two. The USA has a huge National Debt that must be paid down. As well, something must be done to reduce the huge debts millennials (and others) have piled up getting a college or university education. Post high-school education shouldn't be free, but it should be much, much less expensive than it currently is.

Something must be done to fully prevent wealthy people from laundering their money outside the country to fully avoid taxes. This is a big, big issue, now, with the release of the Panama Papers.

As for lifting up the most impoverished, we can use some of the increased tax revenue from the wealthy to aid people. As well, we must increase the minimum wage such that it is enough to live on based on living expenses in the area where a person resides. In most places, a $15/hour (or more) minimum wage would be appropriate.

There's a lot else we can do similar to what I've described. We must get on with it. Congress, the states, the cities must get to work!
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I am sure many people might complain that a salary/payment maximum of a mere one million dollars would be an arduous burden for celebrity actors and musicians who are accustomed to reaping tens of millions every year. There would be fear that these 'talented' people would leave the US to practice their art in the Europe or Tierra del Fuego or some other far-flung place. I say, "Let them leave." New artists would emerge in America in their wake! We don't really need George Clooney or Beyonce. Well. On second thought, we don't need Clooney, anyway.

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