Letter to the editor: Rule by the 1%
To the editor:
I read recently that many if not most mainland Chinese (we can’t know because there are no polls in China) are critical of freedom protesters in Hong Kong. What use, they are quoted saying, are individual rights when you don’t have enough food?
They believe economic wellbeing is what matters and that collective good leads to happier individual lives. They argue government, acting in the interest of all the people, should decide what goods to create and how best to distribute them.
Political elites in Russia, China, North Korea and Saudi Arabia control everything. Personified by figures such as Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Kim Jong Un, and Mohammad Bin Salman, these elites dictate national strategy in everything, claiming they act for the good of all.
Our obvious response is that liberty is the true path to happiness. Material prosperity is created through the protection of freedoms of thought, expression and action. These freedoms enable and nurture self-reliant virtues of invention and innovation that are essential to human progress.
But things change, and 1% of Americans now have as much wealth as the bottom 90%, meaning 3.3 million have wealth equal to 294 million others. Sixteen thousand families (.1%) have growing annual incomes now averaging over $7 million compared with a stagnant $54,000 for families of 334 million Americans. Can we continue hoping America’s economic elites don’t already control too much?
We cannot accept rule by 1% while claiming the heritage of a democratic people, nor boast of July 4 as more than a time for making loud noises.