What Is Santa Trying To Tell Us?
Santa Claus is comin’ to town. Tax cuts for everyone for Christmas. Tax cuts for the low and middle classes that expire in 2025. Tax cuts for the wealthy that never expire. What is Santa trying to tell us? Does Santa love one segment of society more than another?
Corporate tax rates go from 35% to 21%. Businesses are excited, and their anticipation of the tax bill fueled the stock market’s record-breaking rise. The promise is that the lower corporate tax rate will eventually bless the workers of America. The early response from big business is that there are no plans to increase the wages of American workers. Stockholders are the designated beneficiaries of the lower corporate tax rates. (The good news is that a few companies have chosen to provide bonuses to employees and to raise the minimum wage. I hope they are the beginning of a ground swell, but at the time of the writing of this blog, there is no evidence that this is true.) What is Santa trying to tell us?
Economics in America
We are a consumer society. This requires that we buy goods and consume them and buy again. In this way, we fuel the economy. However, if all we do is buy things, we may be rich in things but we live from one paycheck to another; we live month to month. A layoff, illness or the change from one industry to another can cause a crisis. Financial security requires savings and therefore investment in America.
A fire is burning.
The top 1% of Americans control 38.6% of the wealth in our country. This is greater than it has ever been. Year by year, more wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few. In fact, in recent years the disparity between the median low-income families and median high-income families has risen dramatically. Not long ago the income of high-income families was 40 times that of the low-income family. It is now 75 times greater. This inequality is smoke on the horizon. A fire is burning. I wonder what it will consume?
Remember when a single wage earner could support the family? This was the case in the mid 20th century. No more. Now a family of two wage earners often struggles to make ends meet. The gap of inequality is widening. What’s next? Will the children need to work for the family to survive? More smoke on the horizon.
A New Definition of Rich
There are number of reasons for the widening gap of inequality. You can see them in the Republican tax bill. Tax cuts for the rich and for corporations are permanent. Tax cuts for the rest of us are not.
Inequality has another culprit: a belief that wealth is personal. The “wealthy one” worked for it, and it is his/hers. This “wealthy one” does a lot of holding on and is ruled by laws of acquisition. There is never enough, and there is little contentment. This “wealthy one” declares, “Peace will come in the future…when I retire.”
This “wealthy one” fails to see that his success comes not solely because of his own efforts, but because of the work of those who—either buy his product, work on his assembly lines or service the people who make him “rich.”
Dear friend, we need a new definition of the rich. Here are some possibilities.
- The “wealthy one” needs to accumulate more. The truly rich are content with what they have.
- The “wealthy one” thinks wealth is personal. The truly rich think wealth is to be shared; it is a way to bless others. It is a way to create a better world.
A current Republican axiom is: “You live in America, the land of opportunity Pull yourself up by your bootstraps. I did. You can, too. If you can’t…too bad, shame on you.” To those with this attitude, I say, “Shame on you.”
Imagine what would happen if a compassionate and understanding Congress raised the minimum wage? Imagine a Congress with the courage to resist the business lobby. Imagine Congress understanding that raising the minimum wage prospers everyone from the new employee entering the workforce for the first time to the wealthiest CEO. Remember, the more money in people’s hands the more they either spend or invest, and spending and investing grow the American economy.
America is an immensely wealthy nation, but the trend is to concentrate more and more wealth in the hands of a few. This, dear friend, is a larger issue than taxes which is why I have chosen to address it. This trend fuels not the economy, but a fire, a fire whose smoke is on the horizon.
We tend to measure wealth in terms of cash, goods, real estate, precious metals, stocks and bonds, but if this is our sole measure of wealth we feed the fire. Richness requires spiritual understanding and compassion rooted in the great spiritual law—as you give so shall you receive.
It is obvious that our leaders know the exuberance of accumulated wealth, but they do not know the joy of shared wealth and the richness is brings to all.
There is an undiscovered joy. It is hidden by the belief that wealth is personal. It lies hidden beneath the accumulation of more rather than the experience of the contentment of less. It is amazing that those who HAVE so much KNOW so little. They can’t even smell the smoke, but I assure you where there is smoke, there is fire.