According to an article in The Washington Post, income inequality in America is the highest ever measured (Telford, 2019). The rich are getting richer, while the wages of the lower class remain the same.
Politicians promoting a capitalist society argue that more money in the hands of the rich will be dispersed among the poor in the form of more jobs and increased wages. In reality, the wealthy hoard their riches and exploit the poor.
The problem with income inequality is not that there are different economic classes of people. The problem with income inequality is that society has grown to accept these differences, and it is blind to the injustices committed against the poor due to our economic structure. This structure is designed to maximize wealth on the backs of those who do not have it. This may be in the form of tax loopholes, political power, or other parts of the structure that yield little benefit to the poor.
Zombies vs. Homelessness
It may not seem like income inequality could be compared to a post-apocalyptic zombie world, but it can. Today’s poor are like Mark Spitz in Zone One, accepting of their fate and just trying to survive. Today’s homeless are like the zombies. Everyone wants them gone, but the rich are able to avoid and ignore the problem. The rich continue to live their luxurious lives, albeit with less of a population, and the middle and lower class, like Mark Spitz, continue to “sweep” the zombies that remain in the city (Whitehead, 2011).
How is this like income inequality? Our homeless don’t have a voice, and it would be better for the elite if there was no fight for equality. Thus, the reality of the world is handled by the middle and lower classes, while the homeless squander.
Everyone wants to pretend the zombies don’t exist in Zone One, so they can live their “normal lives, but someone has to deal with the zombie problem in order for this to happen. This is like the lawyers, bankers, servants, and salesman to the elite. The workers deal with the dirt, so the elite don’t have to.
The more-tragic comparison is of homeless people to zombies. The homeless are no more valued in real life than zombies are in Zone One. Instead of “sweeping” them, we try to remove them from the cities by shipping them elsewhere. They are discarded like they are not human, and many people who are better off could care less.
Is Income Inequality Humane?
Placing unequal values on lives is natural. We place more value on children’s lives because they are our future. There is more value in the educated, at least in career opportunities, than someone who did not pursue education. Those who work hard are sometimes able to rise to the top, but too often this does not occur, and that is not fair.
The extremely wealthy often make their way to the top through their bloodline as opposed to their actions. They can be extremely uneducated, lazy, and immoral but still remain among the elite. In this way, many of the elite do not deserve to be at the top. These people may also consider themselves superior to all other classes, which is why exploitation and apathy occurs. The bottom rung of society is no more wanted than zombies.
Whether or not you agree with the politics of Bernie Sanders, it is difficult to deny that nobody needs billions of dollars, and he proposes taxing billionaires (Telford, 2019). If the billionaires of the world cannot redistribute their wealth in the form of increased wages and philanthropy, than the government should make them. At least by eliminating tax loopholes, social services would have enough money to be sustainable.
I am as guilty as so many others for walking by homeless people and pretending they don’t exist. Giving them food or money can put you at risk for injury. Instead, I try to donate when I can. I am not in the elite population, but I try to do my part.
What I don’t understand is having billions of dollars and living in a nation where there is hunger and homelessness. I don’t understand the poor state of our schooling system when there are billionaires who could contribute to bettering communities.
Are all billionaires bad? I don’t know the answer to this, and I know many have developed philanthropic organizations to help those who are less fortunate. If they are still billionaires after their philanthropic efforts, then I would argue that they aren’t doing enough. If they run companies and are billionaires, I would argue they don’t pay their employees what they are worth. In this way, billionaires exploit those below them, and the least fortunate are no better off than zombies. Income inequality to a certain extent is natural and probably necessary. The growth in America’s income inequality has escalated to an immoral level.