Dec 2021-Jan 2022
By Ryan Costello
The pandemic has shown a trend we have seen all of our lives, a nasty, disturbing, and unjust trend that many have come to accept as inevitable. I’m talking about the rich getting richer and the poor poorer. While it happens every year, the last few have been particularly brutal. So many have lost nearly everything (jobs, savings, homes, and even lives), while a few billionaires like Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Jeff Bezos have gotten much richer. All of them have added tens of billions to their official net worth since the start of the pandemic. Meanwhile, even common people who were able to keep our jobs are seeing our wages be eaten up by inflation, and we know that the official government statistics understate the reality. Every time we go to the grocery store we pay more for less.
But why does this happen? Is it inevitable? The “experts” on TV and in the media tell us it’s just “economics,” that in order to make the world run this is how it has to be. But this doesn’t really add up. The basic fact of human life is that we can and do produce more than we need to survive. Otherwise we would still be hunter-gatherers, scraping by with just barely enough to make it to our next meal. Instead, we see that human labor—our blood, sweat, and tears—makes a lot. Each year we reproduce the existing society, and then some. We can see this around us: new buildings, new cars, even new cities, and so on. So there is more than enough to go around, and then plenty left over on top of that to grow the society.
The problem is that, while most people work, only a few people really get to take the lion’s share of the wealth that is produced. This is a result of the capitalist system in which we live. We’re told the lie that people are paid according to their work, but the truth is that most people get paid an hourly wage that hides and obscures the fact that they are getting little more than what they need to survive until their next paycheck. Most Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck, meaning they are getting just the bare minimum needed to keep themselves and their families going. But, if there is surplus, if their hard work is producing growth, then they are producing more than the minimum needed to survive. In fact, they are often producing far more than this.
The problem is that the rich people, the capitalists, the billionaires, have the right to take basically all the surplus under the capitalist system. So, they take most of the value that you make at work. Put another way, you work hard all day to make someone else rich.
Plus, the government bails them and their big banks and companies out all the time. For example, most people got a few stimulus checks and a little more in food stamps and unemployment throughout the pandemic. In contrast, the government gave the big banks $6 trillion in the first week of the pandemic alone. That’s $6,000,000,000,000! The Federal Reserve (the central bank of the U.S.) made that out of thin air and now it’s causing inflation for all of us because they diluted the money supply (watered down the value of our dollars). Not to mention the countless other bailouts they have done for the banks, airlines, and other corporations since then.
The privatization of public housing is just another scheme to do the same. They’re taking property which is supposed to be in public hands (although we know that it’s not really under the control of the people), and they’re giving it away to the banks and developers. These fraudsters in turn get a whole bunch of subsidies from the government to “redevelop” these properties into luxury units, and residents get kicked to the curb in the process. This is all because the government serves the wealthy, not the people. It’s a government by the rich for the rich, not for the people. And until this situation changes, the rich are going to keep getting richer and the poor poorer.