Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Riding the Stagecoach

Increasingly, the US is divided into two groups: those riding atop the stagecoach and those running along beside, trying desperately to climb aboard.  Government employees of all stripes, including public school teachers and university professors, are happily on top of the stagecoach driving the horses forward.  "Higher pay, more benefits," they cry as they look with contempt upon those trying to muscle their way on board. 

Listen to Elizabeth Warren, Harvard University's version of a "Native American," as she exhorts her followers to pour more and more money into the privileged folks that ride in the comfortable seats on top of the stagecoach. (Warren had noted early in life that a possible ticket to the top of the stagecoach was to pretend to be something that she was not -- a Native American.  With that pretense, she launched her Harvard and then, later, her political career.  She's not stupid.  At least Ms. Warren had the good grace, years later, to own up to the falsehood, but only after riding atop the stagecoach for a number of years).

Those in the private sector, running alongside the stagecoach, trying to provide for themselves and their families by competing in the what is left of the free market, are increasingly falling further and further behind.  This is the real inequality story.  Those on the stagecoach have the political muscle to extract rents from the rest of the population and they do so. Earning between two and five times as much as the average income in the US, government employees clamor for more -- and get it.

Meanwhile by promoting increases in minimum wage laws, which will never affect those riding atop the stagecoach, the elite effectively toss obstacles in the way of those running alongside.  Too bad if your skill set isn't sufficient to make the minimum that we, the elite, think you should be paid.  There is no place on this stagecoach for you.

As the free market plays a decreasing role in the US, more and more goods and services are allocated by government decree, often without any consideration by the Congress.  The executive branch increasing feels that it is its right to decide who gets what.  This is a far cry from a free and independent people.  Instead it becomes who you know and who you lobby.  Stand in line for your benefits.  Wait in line for your health care.  The government will take care of you.

In a free market, all would have the opportunity to climb aboard the stagecoach, but in the brave new world, it's who you know and how much political muscle you can bring to bear.

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