Weekend Reading

Weekend Reading is 99.9% pure:

There is $118 trillion of wealth in the United States alone, or about $375,000 per American. For every homeless person in the country, there are 28 empty homes waiting for them right now. Laws and culture deny them a roof over their head, not a dearth of roofs. It is our legal system that funnels a disproportionate amount of wealth to a small handful of people, not the benevolent hand of a just and caring god.

Even by the standard of 20th century capitalism, things are pretty not okay. If income had kept pace with growth in the economy since 1970, the median household would be making around $92,000. The actual number is $50,000 and falling. A record 46 million Americans are living below the U.S. government’s official poverty line. Debt is one of few things the country produces anymore: Go to college and you’re liable to make tens of thousands of debt dollars, graduating into a job market where getting an unpaid internship is something to gloat about on Facebook. Working harder isn’t an option. We’re being worked hard enough and it isn’t enough to pay the bills.

All the hard work undertaken over the last several decades has been accumulating wealth not for the workers but for their bosses. Since 1970, the average income of those in thetop one percent has grown by more than 240 percent. These days, the average CEO of a company makes 354 times as much as the average worker, up from a ratio of 42:1 when Ronald Reagan was president. There is no reason to believe that CEO-ing has gotten that much more difficult. They’ve just gotten greedier. They’ve gotten away with it.

The rural communities surrounding Nashville, TN are quiet, unremarkable places. We know: we’ve been there. But now the city of Gallatin will be confronting its citizens with a $658,000 armored military vehicle that, like many of the young men in this country’s increasingly militarized police forces, has seen serious action.

Overseas, the “MRAP” is the symbol of American power on the move, a bizarrely self-parodying vehicle that attempts to encase its soft-shelled occupants from a world full of people who despise us and who will, increasingly, sacrifice their own lives to take ours. Nothing quite says “Us And Them” like rolling in an MRAP. It was developed for a world where everyone outside its reinforced-steel walls is a subhuman enemy to be killed at will.

So what does it say that four of the cities around Nashville are pleased as punch to take delivery of one?


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