Commoners must make their voices heard

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J., (U-WIRE) — Far removed from the days of economic recession, the myth in conservative America today is that these are booming economic times, where every opportunity is within your grasp and going to college virtually guarantees you a six-figure salary. According to a new analysis done by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities published in the New York Times, however, this myth is false.
The new study revealed that the gap between the wealthiest Americans and the poorest Americans has doubled since 1977. The gap has increased so dramatically that the richest 1 percent of Americans have as much money as the bottom 100 million.
In a capitalist society where we are taught that if you do your best in life, you will live the American dream, these numbers are appalling. In fact, according to the study, four out of every five households, or about 217 million people, are by ratio making less than they were 20 years ago. The wealthiest 1 percent have actually doubled their after-tax income since 1977.
Now there are a few out there that might have known this, but many more, myself included, had no clue that the gap was that profound. The common man is having even less of an economic impact on America than over two decades before. This is not only astounding, but disheartening news for all the nine-to-five hard workers out there. The poorest ghettos are more poverty stricken than ever while others live it up in multimillion-dollar mansions. The blue-collar workers of America keep plugging away while the rich receive generous tax cuts. The skewed distribution of wealth in America receives little to no coverage in today’s media and is often ignored. Americans should find this unacceptable. Every single one of us deserves that house on the hill with the white picket fence.
The recent Republican tax bill proposal has been open to different interpretation according to your political alliance. The proposal was to have a $792 billion tax cut over 10 years, where all income tax rates would be reduced by one percent over the 10-year period. Sounds great on paper but not when the bulk of the rest of the tax cuts would go to those making $100,000 a year or more.
The Republicans neglected to inform us of this fact while they were campaigning for “the working families of America.” The businesses and families that would benefit the most and receive the biggest tax breaks from this proposal would be those already in the upper echelon of society.
President Bill Clinton rightfully vetoed the bill, saying it would be going back to the “failed policies of the past.” Although the bill was cloaked in sheep’s clothing, it was a wolf ready to prey on the American economy while not really helping out the working American family much at all. It would have been just another case of the rich getting richer.
So what is the answer to how we can close the gap between the rich and poor? How can we make sure that the rich don’t grow fat off tax breaks while others linger in poverty?
The answer lies through our voice, and I don’t mean our vocal chords. I mean our democratic, political voice. In order to have the bigwigs in Washington truly hear our voice, we must all perform our right and duty and vote for the candidates that will push the legislation that is best for working-class America, not Bill Gates and Donald Trump.
In today’s horse-race style of journalism in election coverage, the common man is being duped out of the issues. If he sees that his candidate is down by many percentage points he will become disinterested and probably not even vote; that is a proven fact.
But if you sat down and really thought about the millions of Americans who did not vote, you would realize that we could easily clean up Washington. We could finally rid ourselves of the politicians that only support the affluent with one united burst of democracy at its finest.
Getting involved in your community and local town government helps. Keeping tabs on what your state and federal officials are doing can also help. It has been said that bad things happen when good people do nothing. That is absolutely true. If no one shows interest in what the politicians are doing, of course, they will do whatever serves their best interest.
Who wouldn’t do the same? If you knew a thief was coming into your house to rob you, wouldn’t you stop him? If you keep yourself abreast of the issues, you can stop the thief. We can make the system work for us if we take full advantage of it and realize the awesome power that we really do hold.
With a college degree having the same significance that a high school diploma had 20 years ago, the competitive job market will only intensify in the years to come. Thanks to the increased availability of loans, grants and scholarships in America, getting into a university does not quite have the same clout that it used to. Unless you are tops in your field of study, a high paying job, if any, is not written in stone. You might fall into the category of the bottom 100 million people even though you received a university education.
To those that this worries, I can only say, strive to be the best in your field, that way no one can hold you down. Keep yourself involved in our democracy, it should be our blessing, not our curse. Make your voices heard because every voice should be heard, whether it has $100 million behind it or not.
Alexander Vargas’ column originally appeared in Friday’s Rutgers University paper, the Daily Targum.