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Friday, April 25, 2008

A Voice for Equality

A note from the October 2007 issue of Harvard Magazine on H.U. Professor Howard Gardner, brought to my attention by Joe the Conqueror:

"In the magazine Foreign Policy, he argued in the spring for upper limits on the amount of income an American should be allowed to keep and the amount of wealth that can be passed on to beneficiaries ($4 million a year and $200 million, respectively). 'It makes sense to be moderate politically only if there are two sides willing to engage,' he says. 'The right wing isn’t just taking over the country, it’s shanghaiing all our values. If there’s a Republican administration after the next election, I would join in efforts for some sort of secession. It’s not the same country anymore.' "

Secession is unrealistic and doesn't pass the giggle test, but limits on income and a radical revision in the estate tax could transform this country into a nation where the concept of equality is honored, not thrown on the trash pile.
Liberté, Fraternité, Egalité. Obama, as previously reported here, has said that income inequality in the US is now the greatest it's been since the Great Depression. A recent profile of corporate raider Carl Ikan (sp?) on Sixty Minutes revealed that his net worth is more than $8 billion dollars. One man. Worth 8 billion dollars. Is there any one person whose skills are so great that s/he's entitled to possess that kind of money? When the dropout rate in public high schools is an average 33 percent, and in some areas of the country 50 percent? And the US has the highest percentage of its population in prison of any industrialized nation? And the US health care system ranks last among those of industrialized nations in terms of access, quality and efficiency, according to the Commonwealth Fund?

Another note on the Federal Reserve System. Since the US is no longer on the gold standard, the power to regulate the money supply is the power to regulate its value, according to Peter Joseph's documentary Zeitgeist
. (Though of course international currency exchange rates also play a role.) In any case, the Fed has fundamentally awesome power that should be subject to close oversight by the legislative branch of government, not left to a cabal of millionaire bankers.

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