Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Another Tax Break for the Wealthy!

Something is wrong, absolutely seriously wrong in our beloved United States—and I do mean, SERIOUSLY WRONG!

Just a few minutes ago on the radio, I heard the news that Republicans in Congress are putting together their version of a plan to balance the budget. And what do you think that plan calls for once again? Yes, another tax break for the wealthy!

Now, I’m not out to attack the Republicans. As a nonpartisan, I claim affiliation with no political party. BUT, what am I to think after hearing the news this morning that the push is on once again to give a tax break to the very rich? It simply gets my dander in a fluff. What on earth are these lawmakers thinking? Have they taken up residence in the back pockets of the one-percent?

Here’s the reason why I am so miffed when I hear that any politician wants to give the wealthy another break while the middle class along with the downcast and underserved continue to get chewed up, spat out and trodden on.

Simply watch the following video. It’s gone viral and has been attracting a lot of attention across America. It’s based on an academic paper titled, Building a Better America—One Wealth Quintile at a Time, by Michael Norton from the Harvard Business School and Dan Ariely from Duke University. The authors point to a majority of scholars who agree that wealth inequality in the United States is at historic highs, even topping the levels seen just before the Great Depression in the 1920s. Noting the facts presented in this video, how can anyone walk away and not be upset and angry at what we hear being proposed by those we’ve elected?

Before you watch the video, however, answer these questions for yourself.

1)      What’s your perception of the current distribution of wealth among Americans?
2)      Is it evenly distributed?
3)      How much of America’s wealth do you think actually resides in the hands of the working class and less fortunate?

OK, now watch the video and afterward be sure to bring it up as a topic of conversation at your next credit union board or staff meeting.

As financial cooperatives that place a special emphasis on serving the marginalized and underserved, I wonder whether credit unions should be 1) taking on a larger role in educating the public about the growing inequality of wealth distribution among the classes in the U.S., and 2) stepping up their advocacy efforts for those who are seen as having no voice in today’s society.

By their very nature as cooperatives, credit unions have this profound responsibility to their members and their communities. Think of it. If this trend of inequality goes unchecked, there will one day be no more credit unions—period—because the vast majority of their members will no longer have a penny to their name. All the wealth in our land will be held by some 40 to 50 people. Scary, isn’t it?

There is, however, one lasting hope—and even that is being threatened with efforts to redraw voting districts. People still have the power of “the vote” and with education and more information, people can use that vote to improve their circumstances and begin to carve out a more equal distribution of the bounty that’s part of the fabric of America.

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