Monday, December 27, 2010

Top 1% Are 225x Richer Than the Average American

I just heard this amazing statistic, my headline, on CNN.  They say that figure is " up 18% from last year because of the recession" if 18% increase made a difference in that stratospheric equation. 

Alastair Sim as Scrooge in "A Christmas Carol"  (1951)

My family and I watch the Alastair Sim version of "A Christmas Carol" every Christmas eve and I am stunned anew by the cruel indifference of E.W. Scrooge towards his family and fellow man. I used to think it poetic license on the part of Mr. Dickens.  Surely no one could be that unfeeling?   But then I hear or read a statistic like CNN put out and wonder, "What do these people think and feel?  Do they share their wealth?  Are they goodwill ambassadors?  Do they feel pity, compassion, empathy and put it to good use?"

Some are well known for public acts of charity and empathy.  Angelina and Brad are on a constant world tour donating time, money and giving back.  Ted Turner was, I believe, the first billionaire to publicly challenge his fellow billionaires to give away the bulk of their wealth.  Warren Buffett and Bill Gates followed suit a few years later.  Audrey Hepburn was a giving person; her travels on behalf of UNICEF were well known.   But do they pale in comparison to the documented greed and self-indulgence of the very rich to which the public is exposed daily via the media? 

My feelings, which may or may not be accurate, are there are more people with money spending it on really stupid crap (the biggest yacht Paul Allen? or vacation travel to the moon Richard Branson?) than on things that make a difference. 

They were a boy and girl. Yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling, wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility. Where graceful youth should have filled their features out, and touched them with its freshest tints, a stale and shrivelled hand, like that of age, had pinched, and twisted them, and pulled them into shreds. Where angels might have sat enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing. No change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity, in any grade, through all the mysteries of wonderful creation, has monsters half so horrible and dread.
Scrooge started back, appalled. Having them shown to him in this way, he tried to say they were fine children, but the words choked themselves, rather than be parties to a lie of such enormous magnitude.
``Spirit! are they yours?'' Scrooge could say no more.
``They are Man's,'' said the Spirit, looking down upon them. ``And they cling to me, appealing  from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it!'' cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. ``Slander those who tell it ye! Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse! And bide the end!''
``Have they no refuge or resource?'' cried Scrooge.
``Are there no prisons?'' said the Spirit, turning on him for the last time with his own words. ``Are there no workhouses?''
  The bell struck twelve.
As our economy bounces up and down, as our poor become poorer and the rich accumulate even greater wealth, what provisions will we make for those less fortunate?  Will we provide health care to all?  Will we create jobs to reduce 9.6% unemployment?  Will we stop polluting our waters, our air, destroying our rainforests, environment, encroaching upon and eliminating entire species from the earth?  Or will we, ultimately, be eliminated?

Scrooge found the path to redemption in time. 

Will we?



Judy said...

In 2011 I'm striving to spent less money on "crap" and more money to help others. I hope you will keep posting to remind me.

Susan said...

An excellent post, Deb. I wish those gazillionaires could read it. Their ostentatiousness is obscene and disgusting. It should be criminal.


by Cole Scott