Ask A Genius 548 – Wealth Inequality in a State (and in the Nature of States)
May 7, 2020
[Beginning of recorded material]
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: How much wealth inequality is required for wealth inequality in a state to become bad?
Rick Rosner: All right, so right now, what we have, I’ve called Trump the little end of the world before the big end of the world. But when I started calling him that, I didn’t realize that he would bring on the end of the world for like a quarter million Americans.
We’re at seventy-seven thousand dead and another two thousand dead every day. So by Election Day, six months away, we’re going to be at least a quarter million dead, unless some miracle happens. Probably closer to three hundred fifty thousand US dead from coronavirus.
Which will put it in the top five deadliest events in U.S. history. Right behind World War 2. So what we’re seeing is life inequality with the virus that I’m not sure, I haven’t verified the statistic. But it may be that more black people have died in the US from this fucking virus than any other race. Black people are only approximately, maybe, 12 percent of America
Jacobsen: They’ve died far more disproportionately than any other population.
Rosner: They certainly have died at a higher rate than any other. So poor people and minorities are dying more from this shit more than the rich people. That’s a little preview of what increasingly income inequality may do as medical technology gets better.
It is already somewhat the case in America. But it hasn’t really been explicitly noticed by most people. Because there’s so much other shit going on, even with regard to wealth inequality, that people really haven’t started getting pissed about differential health and mortality outcomes between rich and poor.
But that’s going to get a lot more attention as this stuff plays out, as medicine gets better over the next 10, 20 years. That’s the biggest and most obvious place where wealth inequality and income inequality show up; the unethical situation that you have to die 20 years sooner.
You and everybody have to die 20 years sooner than rich people. Just because you do not have money. You live a less healthy life and then you’re dead in your 60s, then rich people are living healthy lives into their 80s and making it well into their 90s.
So that’s super unethical. There is a demographic remedy for income inequality, which is there are more poor people than rich people. So poor people use the political power of their bigger numbers to vote in policies that favor them over rich people.
But what is happening, what has been going on in the US is that, that dynamic has been subverted more horribly than at any time in the past hundred and thirty years where rich people have captured the levers of government. There’s the Citizens United Supreme Court decision which says that corporations are people.
And that political contributions, that money is speech. That putting limits on what people and corporations can donate is limiting free speech. It is a horrible decision and it is going to need legislation to fix it.
But since that decision was handed down, Democrats who represent the non-rich to some extent haven’t had enough political power to do anything about it. So on the one hand, you’ve got political power in the hands of rich people, the politicians they’ve bought.
And on the other hand, you have propaganda, Fox News and OANN tricking poor people into voting again against their best interests. So it has been a terrible time for the past 10 years in the U.S. because poor people have been on average stymied.
And rich, shitty people have just grabbed all the wealth. So those are two areas that are obviously ethically shitty, deplorable; that much longer lifespans and no access to political power.
Jacobsen: What do you think of these arguments that people are opposing and have been for a long time around inequality being some kind of law of nature and that’s innate with people who do not have a talent, not having a talent, not having work ethic, etc.?
Rosner: Yes, that’s just bullshit. Where some level of income inequality is fine. There have been times. There’s a harsh view of the US that says there have never been good times. The US has never been a good nation. That there’s been riot consistently right below the surface.
But contrary to that, there have been times when America has been good for a large proportion of its population. They have been shitty; there have always been shitty things going on. But America made it possible for a lot of people to live good lives by the standards of the time.
It is not right now. We’re all either hunkering down, trying not to get sick and unemployed, or defiantly and stupidly trying to reopen the country. Because we’ve been brainwashed by conservative bullshit.
But at other times in the US, capitalism plus democracy to the extent that we had each made it possible for people to move up economic ladders and make own enough stuff to have good lives and pay for their educations, their kids’ educations.
But there are limits on it. We’ve reached those limits in the disastrous loss of the years under Trump and the years leading up to Trump.
Well, that’s it for that.
[End of recorded material]
American Television Writer
Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Founder, In-Sight Publishing
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