Stagnant Wages for the Last 20 Years (Technology Caused): The ‘have-nots’ of the world are over the wealth gap
The ‘have-nots’ of the world are over the wealth gap
A wealthy, well-connected parent is accused of creating awards and credits for her spoiled teenage daughter, who otherwise lacked the grades to get into her preferred college.
Not only is the daughter accepted — she gets multiple scholarships, money that could have, should have, gone to a needy student.
Felicity Huffman? Lori Loughlin?
This particular case is exploding right now in South Korea, where it has come to epitomize the gap between the haves and have-nots. There are riots in the streets and demands for the president — who ran and won on abolishing income inequality, and whose former justice minister is the girl’s father — to resign.
“We have grown up believing that everyone will have the same opportunities to enter good universities as long as we work hard,” one South Korean college student told the New York Times. “But we learned through this scandal that such a rule doesn’t apply in reality.”
Other countries are exploding in even greater rage, sparked by one final indignity visited upon the have-nots.
Chile is literally on fire, amid violent protests sparked after their billionaire president announced a subway fare hike. This is a country where the average income is $807 a month, a wage that has stagnated as the cost of everything else, from food to gas to electricity to mass transit, keeps going up.
“The people who govern the country seem to be living in a different world from the rest of us,” one protester said. “The metro fare was just the detonator.”
Eleven people died there in riots last weekend.
In Haiti, at least 18 people have died since riots and protests broke out six weeks ago. The precipitating event was a gas shortage, but this, of course, is not the reason.
“We are in misery and we are starving,” protester Jean Claude told Reuters. “We cannot stand it anymore.”
More than 50 percent of Haitians live on about $2 a month. Tens of thousands of protesters are storming the rich, burning tires in wealthy enclaves. And it’s not just the poor who are rioting — it’s academics, businesspeople, artists, intellectuals. These protesters, too, want their president out.
Beirut is burning, too, as are other areas of Lebanon, as protesters demand an overthrow of the government. The final indignity? A likely tax on apps.
“Sunni, Shia, Christian or Druze, it doesn’t matter — our pain is one and the same,” a protester told CNN. “This is my first time at a protest and it’s because I am so fed up.”
Sound familiar? Here at home, we see the ever-widening gap in our wealthiest cities — New York, San Francisco, LA — which are suffering from homeless crises of epic proportions. Forty percent of Americans don’t have $400 saved in case of emergency. Last year, 68 percent couldn’t afford a recreational activity — from a vacation to concerts to a professional sporting event to even dinner or a movie — for lack of funds.
This year, the Census Bureau reported that the gap between the rich and poor has hit its highest level in the 50-plus years since they began marking it. Adjusting for inflation, the average household income is the same as it was 20 years ago. The average American can’t afford to buy a house in 70 percent of the country.
The last time America saw anything resembling mass outrage over the economy was more than 10 years ago, when Occupy Wall Street — born of the financial crisis — sparked, sputtered and flamed out. Now, we vent our outrage on Twitter or Facebook, which commodify our dissent and sell it back to us.
And on Sunday, after serving her very light sentence for scamming her daughter’s way into college, actress Felicity Huffman, wealthy and famous, is set to be released from a relatively comfy federal prison.
One day early. Those breaks for the rich — they just never end.