Sunday, 18 March 2012

Greed, Excess and America's Gaping Class Divide

It seems that the class divide in the USA keeps gets bigger and bigger, more and more people are becoming unemployed living of benefits and sometimes nothing at all, this is occurring whilst a small percentage of some Americans are earning ludicrous amounts each which keep increasing. Even though the amount of Americans earning over 5 million (which is ridiculous) has decreased over the last 20 years, these rich Americans have somehow increased their wealth immensely.

This article was taken from the popular magazine Rolling Stones, within it the journalist explores the ways in which government policies can affect the rich and also how each class are unaware of how the other lives, for example; how the rich simply have no concept of what being broke or poor really means. In a new proposed governmental policy, Barack Obama was considering curtailing the compensation of bailed-out bankers to $500,000, to many this would seem a huge and wealthy salary. This was meant for the general direction of Wall Street, where the notion that the government should restrict the salaries of exactly the irresponsible greedheads who caused a global financial crisis, however this proposed policy was met with blunt outrage, whereby many bankers argued the point that they would not be able to survive on this amount alone. During this debate over the proposed salary cap, one of the things we started to hear from the 'rich' class was a general sense of wonder at the notion that anyone considered them rich. Many of these people believed they were middle class, for example; ABC's Charlie Gibson and CNN reporter Kiran Chetry in recent years suggested that $200-$250,000 is middle class, saying that in certain areas of the country $250,000 would be the norm.
All of this is conformation to the amazing and rapidly growing class divide that is occurring throughout American society, It is true that if you make $300,000 in America, you won't feel like you're so very rich once you've finished paying your taxes, your mortgage, your medical bills. For this reason, a lot of people who make that kind of money believe they are the modern middle class: house in the burbs, a car, a kid in college, a trip to Europe once a year, they believe that this is not such a big deal. Well considering that many Americans are hard working citizens earning less than $60,00, I determine that they are more upper class, these 'middle class' American are subject of greed. However from the average day American, anyone who has a secure job or any security of their job at all, retirement plan and a substantial health plan can be seen as upper class.

Not many 'poor' Americans do not know how the 'other half live, they barely get to see how the rich behave or extravagantly spend, however one man that likes to show off his wealth is Stephen Schwarzman, he is a private equity businessman who earns over 400 million a year and spent 5 million celebrating his 60th birthday, of which the only attendance was by invite only, meaning that not many 'normal' Americans could have access to this extravaganza. Schwarzman argued Barack Obama's proposed salary deficit, by comparing the president to Hitler for even considering rolling back his carried-interest exemption, which, again, allows him to pay 15%
taxes while some of the rest of American's citizens pay twice that or more. "It's a war," he said, "It's like when Adolf Hitler invaded Poland".

However when viewing this rapidly expressed issue in America, we must consider that even though America is for the moment the wealthiest country in the world, they still have many living in poverty without a job or a stable '$500,000 salary'. This is happening alongside the small percentage of Americans who are raking in lots of money whilst complaining about being either salary capped or have an increase on taxes. One thing that is clear is the lack of awareness from both sides on how each other lives, they tend to ignore one another and generally do not spend much of their lives dealing with the opposite class.

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