What do we do about the gap between rich and poor?

The Poverty Gap, as it’s now called, has bugged me since I was a little kid. Interestingly, when I was a kid we heard a lot about the evils of so-called Communism. I wasn’t even sure what Communism was at the time. It was this big devil according to the news reports. If you said you were a “Commie” you could get arrested. I knew kids who called themselves “Commies” but we were little so they didn’t get in trouble (what the heck is “trouble,” anyway?).

Sometime when I was in college all that talk ended. We didn’t hear those scare tactics much anymore. It was clear that Communism wasn’t a good solution to the Poverty Gap. But what was?

Right now, in this supposed land where we’re all, ahem, equal, we have tax brackets which means the rich are more heavily taxed than the poor. That is the theory, an attempt to level things off a bit (a weak attempt, I must admit!). What happens when you set rules like this is that people will find ways to circumvent them. The wealthy aren’t going go along with this so quickly. Have we not heard of tax loopholes? If you want to hide your money, there are well-known ways to do this, and most are legal.

What can effective ways can the rich get less rich, and the poor get less poor? Wait a minute…this isn’t the real goal here! Who is in power? And wants to stay in power?

I think they only want to make it look like they’re making an effort. After all, if you’re in power you don’t want to piss off your supporters.

The idea of charitable donations makes me laugh. This is just one more way lower your assets and even get tax credit for doing so.

My mom was giving a lot to charity toward the end of her life. On one hand, she knew she had more funds than she needed as a widowed woman whose kids were grown. On the other hand my guess is that her assets would have been over a million had she not given a portion of it away. She was solicited by charities so frequently that it all resulted in a huge pile of junk mail. She couldn’t bear to toss it out.

Mom didn’t grow up with email. She had this odd habit of printing out every single email she received. I kept trying to explain that this wasn’t obligatory. She was solicited so much by charities that eventually she was taken advantage by a few bogus ones. My brother found out she had some of these auto-paying huge amounts from her bank account. It was sad.

The very presence of rampant capitalism is traumatic for many people. You apply for a job and you are competing against 500 others who want to make good money, too. You go to work and you’re competing with others who are similarly trying to stay afloat.

It all reminds me of watching Puzzle as a tiny puppy in litter of ten puppies, all competing for their mother’s milk. I was amused watching little Puzzle crawl on top of her brothers and sisters to get to her place at the dinner table. Breeders I have known have told me with large litters they sometimes have to hand-feed the ones that can’t get to Mama in time. But wait! Isn’t there enough to go around? Most of the time, yes.

Is it true that world hunger is caused by overpopulation? I doubt it. We have an overabundance of food as it is. Aren’t we supposed to share? Isn’t this very basic principle, learned in childhood, relevant when we become adults? Why should the wealthy be forced to share by complex taxation? Wouldn’t a gentler approach be better?

When kids are forced or heavily pressured to share, they’re going to resent it. However, if you leave them alone they will willingly share. It is way too hard to get a substantial income in this country. The pressure to survive and get ahead is exhausting. This results in oppressive workplaces. The bosses know there are people out there desperate for jobs banging on the doors to be included. Bosses often use scare tactics on employees knowing they’re disposable. Why should work be like that? They hold firing over your head which is essentially bribery. “Do what I say or you will end up unemployed and broke!” Scare tactics have become standard HR protocol. This really pisses me off. However, it says something about the basic economic fallacy we live in.

What if that pressure were alleviated? What changes would occur? I suspect we’d share more. We would quit the cutthroat competition, lessening financial-related trauma in the entire population. Am I completely off base here?

Feedback and comments welcome!