Justice is a concept that applies to every aspect of human life, including economics. Dr. Martin Luther King spoke frequently about economic injustice, calling poverty the most insidious form of violence and observing that peace was not the absence of violence, but the presence of justice.
I’ve been worried for a long time about the suffering of working men and women. What kind of debilitating effects has the economy of the past 8 years had on hard working and poor people? In my home-town of Detroit, the suffering is as obvious as it is heart-breaking. Children in Detriot suffer from exposure to hunger, homelessness and violence. Our economic system is beyond sad, it is dangerous. An entire generation of Americans is being raised in an atmosphere of hopelessness – and that is dangerous. By now the economic disaster that Republicans have brought down upon us is obvious. What worries me most is that they are advocating the same policies to this day.
The mantra of the conservative, free-market capitalists is that the cure to unemployment and economic hardship is to lower taxes and “let working men and women keep more of what they earn”. Just this morning I heard Joe Scarborough advocate lowering taxes to create jobs, instead of increasing Government spending. He’s wrong. The “trickle-down” effect of Reagan Conservatism has been thoroughly disproven and the last thing we need to do is to repeat the mistake again. Reality sucks for Conservatives, so they choose to ignore it. For example, when the highest tax bracket was a rate of 39.6% from 1992 through 2000, the average unemployment rate was 5.0%. Since the Bush tax cut made the highest rate 35%, the average unemployment has risen to 6.0%. The facts show, lowering tax rates actually INCREASES unemployment!
As for “a rising tide floating all boats”, 1% of the population live in yachts while most Americans are sinking: 99% of the wealth in this country has become redistributed to 1% of Americans in the last 8 years, while the average income has not changed. More and more people are fighting each other for the economic crumbs – fighting without health insurance!
We face a moral choice. The policies of Conservatives have nearly destroyed our economy and the moral fabric of society. When more children live in poverty than ever before, when hunger and homelessness increase while fewer and fewer become richer and richer, then we have become an unjust society. Conservatives are Pied Pipers leading us to ruin. We can choose to cling to the myth of free-market capitalism, or find another economic system to heal the suffering… and to preserve our liberty. Or the change just might be forced upon us.