It is time for a large-scale check-up from the neck-up. The only way we could have elected the manifestly unqualified and ill-suited Donald Trump to the presidency is if there was something seriously wrong with us. By “us” I mean those of us on the progressive end of the political spectrum- or as I like to call us “the good guys.” Of course the people who witnessed his abhorrent conduct throughout the campaign and rewarded him with their vote anyway are primarily to blame. But the political malpractice on our end left the door wide open.
Here’s the shot: we do not message like winners, we message like losers. We message like we are asking for somebody to give us something we want instead of messaging like we are claiming something that belongs to us by birthright. The difference between those starting points is a million miles and counting. That dynamic is rarely clearer than it is when I hear leading Democratic legislators talking about the issue of “income inequality.”
I am going to give it to you straight: The whole “income inequality” issue is complete bullshit. It is a political loser and Democrats need to drop it- at least as currently constituted. The reason why this is a loser is because in America you are SUPPOSED to have income inequality. Anytime you have competition you are supposed to have different outcomes- rewards for doing well and penalties for performing poorly. Of course the ultimate goal is a fair game with rules treating everybody justly and providing everybody equal opportunities to play the game. Referees that keep everybody in line are essential as well but the players’ outcomes are supposed to be different based on how they perform.
Any policy that does not account for those fundamental elements of our socioeconomic identity right up front is doomed. Every company is competing with other companies for our money. For a variety of reasons, some will succeed in getting their share of our money and others won’t. Those that succeed will have an income better than those who fail.
What Democrats mean (I hope) is that America has a serious problem with wage disparity that needs to be addressed. And addressing that wage disparity problem will improve the economy drastically and it will do so rapidly. Here is the breakdown: any company in America can pay its workforce whatever it wants to pay them within certain loose parameters: employers must observe a minimum wage, they are not allowed to discriminate against people in a protected class- i.e. pay somebody less money for the same job as somebody else based on race, gender, national origin, etc. But beyond that they are pretty much free to negotiate and set wages freely- with individuals or with labor unions.
But without any oversight the vast majority of employers in America have a huge disparity in what they pay their rank and file associates and what they pay their upper level management or executive personnel. Too often “C” suite employees are clocking dollars at more than 100 times the rate of staff-level employee’s.
That is obscene and it creates an economic problem that is as pressing as the social problems. If there was a $10 million dollar windfall to be distributed by a company, the local economy would be far better off if it had 100 people walking around with $100K to spend than just one guy with the whole $10 million. The stimulative impact is far greater and that point is even stronger if the single guy holding that $10 million check already has millions of dollars. Not a lot is going to change. That is a simple illustration of why economies stagnate when wage disparity is extreme like it is now.
Democrats can find dozens of ways to make that argument a compelling one. How many people who go to work and bust their ass everyday are willing to believe that their boss is worth 100 times more to the company than they are? Not many are going to buy that bullshit no matter how hard the GOP pushes it.
They have been highly successful at trafficking in the cruel mythology that all of those workers can one day be the guy at the top getting that whole $10 million dollars. They are never going to be that guy but they have been conned into sympathizing with that guy’s interests and adopting them as their own. And they will keep that fairy tale alive and well and a lot of working folks will keep buying it as long as the opposing party keeps harping about “income inequality.” Damn, isn’t any body amongst the good guys insightful enough to say: “Wait a minute- there is all kinds of ‘income’ that CAN’T be a part of any ‘inequality’ argument. What about real estate income? Inheritance income? Investment income? Royalties income? Do we want THOSE to be a part of this too?”
Of course not. They are not socialists but you wouldn’t know it because they have botched the messaging so badly. Isn’t it a strong and compelling enough argument to demand that every American who works full time is entitled to a living wage? To hell with a minimum wage: people need a LIVING wage. Then they won’t need any government benefits to survive and we can finally stop subsidizing their greedy-ass employers.
Then they can actually spend money in the mall on consumer goods they want and help drive economic growth. Once a guy can buy his son the GI Joe with the kung-fu grip God only knows what he might be inspired to do next. Maybe, just maybe, he can start his own company and get that $10 million dollars he’s heard tell about. Probably not, but he can still dream can’t he? At least with Democrats working on wage disparity legislation he can finally sleep well at night.
Step up your game, Democrats. When your language is sloppy, your logic is never too far behind. It’s time for you to do better because when you get your ass kicked, working people lose.