Letters and Opinion

Powerful must learn hard lessons

May 14, 2011

I have borrowed a few thoughts from Joseph E. Stiglitz, because he is better at putting into words what I think. In light of our most recent General Assembly, I believe the top 1 percent of Indiana went to bat for the top 1 percent and then kicked the other 99 percent [who were] fooled into electing them in the teeth. This kind of “representation” cannot continue.

In recent weeks we have watched people taking to the streets by the millions to protest political, economic and social conditions in the oppressive societies they inhabit. Governments have been toppled in Egypt and Tunesia. Protests have erupted in Libya, Yemen and Bahrain. The ruling families elsewhere in the region look on nervously from their air-conditioned penthouses—will they be next?

They are right to worry. These are societies where a minuscule fraction of the population controls the lion’s share of the wealth, where wealth is a main determinant of power, where entrenched corruption of one sort or another is a way of life, and where the wealthiest often stand actively in the way of policies that would improve life for people in general.

In important ways, America (and Indiana) has become like these distant, troubled places. The top 1 percent have the best lifestyles. But there is one thing that money doesn’t seem to have bought: an understanding that their fate is bound up with how the other 99 percent live. Throughout history, this is something that the top 1 percent eventually do learn, too late.When will it come to America (and Indiana)?

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Karen Frye
 

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