It takes only two things to keep people in chains:
The ignorance of the oppressed
and the treachery of their leaders.
Question: If your wealth totals $100, does that make you rich or poor?
Answer: If everyone else has $1, you are rich. If everyone else has $1,000, you are poor. and if everyone else has $95, you are well-off, but not rich.
Thus it is the Gap, between you and the rest — not your absolute wealth — that determines whether you are rich or poor. If there were no Gap, no one would be rich and no one would be poor, no matter how much money they had.
“Gap Psychology“ is the name for the human desire to distance oneself from those below in any social ranking, and to near those above.
We see Gap Psychology everywhere. It is the reason for the purchase of a Rolls Royce that does little if anything more than a Hyundai. It causes the demand for a perfect diamond vs. moissanite. A Rolex vs. a Timex.
Designer clothing, expensive restaurants, mansions — all the symbols of wealth — the primary purpose of which are to separate the owners from the poor and draw them closer to the rich.
Even sports team fandom, where one must win and the other lose, is an expression of Gap Psychology, where the fan takes personal pride in the accomplishments of a team of strangers.
The Gap below you can be widened in two ways: You rise on the social scale and/or those below you fall. That is why so many middle-class people are unsympathetic to the plights of the poor, and view the poor as “lazy takers.” Pushing the poor down, widens the Gap below.
Similarly, the Gap above you can be narrowed in two ways: Again, you rise on the social scale and/or those above you fall. That is why the middle classes both despise and envy the rich, and take secret (or not-so-secret) pleasure in seeing the rich fall. Pulling the rich down narrows the Gap above.
The Gap not only is widened by wealth, but by stigmatizing. As a justification for Gap Psychology, those in a different group often are stigmatized as being ignorant, immoral, lazy, or bereft of redeeming qualities.
Gap Psychology is 100% selfish. It is a survival method. To members of a social species, there come individual Darwinian advantages from being associated with the fittest members.
But for a group as a whole, Gap Psychology is divisive. But there are “group-within-the-group advantages, because Gap Psychology can increase cohesiveness within the smaller group. That, for instance, is the power of religions, which in part gain strength by separation from “outsiders.”
Decency is the opposite of Gap Psychology. The decent person wishes to lift those below or outside the group, and does not find gratification in the downfall of the rich and powerful, or those outside the group.
Often, Gap Psychology and Decency are blended. For example, in Chicago, we have the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital.
Mr. & Mrs. Lurie donated many millions of dollars to improve what formerly was called “Children’s Memorial Hospital,” (Decency), but in return demanded that their names be featured (Gap Psychology).
All American Presidents exhibit strong symptoms of Gap Psychology, and all during my lifetime (since WWII) have had some measure of Decency — Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson were decent men. Nixon perhaps less so, but Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, and Obama were fundamentally Decent.
And then came Trump.
I suggest that Donald Trump, with his pathological urge for aggrandizement and credit, his compulsive lying, and his evading of all blame for everything, exhibits 100% Gap Psychology, and does not burden himself with Decency.
He cares nothing for the poor and everything for his own image. He is, I submit, the ultimate product of today’s anti-poor, pro-rich, anti-deficit, pro-military Republican party, as first created in 1994 by Newt Gingrich and Dick Armey.
With the focus (unwisely and unnecessarily) on cutting federal budgets, and the (invented) need to feed the military, the Republicans then claimed that social programs were the items that had sufficient budgets to cut meaningfully.
This led to the “Personal Responsibility Act (which was replaced by the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. Among its directives were:
- Cut welfare and related programs that aid unmarried women and pregnant teens
- Punish Families with Dependent Children for having more children while receiving welfare
- End AFDC payments after five years
- Create a “two-years-and-out” provision with work requirements for such families
- Provide food vouchers to unwed mothers under 18 instead of cash
- Suspend the drivers’ and/or professional licenses of those who fail to pay child support.
In short, not only were benefits for the poor to be cut, but the poor were to be punished for being poor. (Gap Psychology)
The Tea Party, which began in 2009, not coincidentally at the beginning of the Obama administration, pushed the GOP even further to the right, with strident, anti-deficit demands.
And now, having arrived in 2017, we find the Republicans attempting to enact a half-dozen anti-poor, pro-rich laws to destroy Obamacare (ACA), and to widen the Gap with their many variations on tax “reform.”
Trump’s repeated appointments of people to who have demonstrated antipathy to the missions of the agencies they lead, and his nominations to judgeships of people wholly unqualified to be judges, will have long-lasting, deleterious effects on America, particularly on the poor and middle classes.
In short, today’s Republican Party has tipped so far into Gap Psychology, it has lost even the semblance of decency.
Like most of our past Presidents, Americans are fundamentally Decent. We root for the underdog. We are charitable. We despise unfairness. Trump is the opposite, as is today’s GOP. Thus, I believe, the GOP is out of step with America.
While Gap Psychology continues to exert a strong emotional pull on American voters, I suspect that our basic Decency will come to the fore, and that is very bad news for the GOP.
Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Twitter: @rodgermitchell; Search #monetarysovereignty
Facebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
The most important problems in economics involve the excessive income/wealth/power Gaps between the have-mores and the have-less.
Wide Gaps negatively affect poverty, health and longevity, education, housing, law and crime, war, leadership, ownership, bigotry, supply and demand, taxation, GDP, international relations, scientific advancement, the environment, human motivation and well-being, and virtually every other issue in economics.
Implementation of The Ten Steps To Prosperity can narrow the Gaps:
Ten Steps To Prosperity:
1. ELIMINATE FICA (Ten Reasons to Eliminate FICA )
Although the article lists 10 reasons to eliminate FICA, there are two fundamental reasons:
*FICA is the most regressive tax in American history, widening the Gap by punishing the low and middle-income groups, while leaving the rich untouched, and
*The federal government, being Monetarily Sovereign, neither needs nor uses FICA to support Social Security and Medicare.
2. FEDERALLY FUNDED MEDICARE — PARTS A, B & D, PLUS LONG TERM CARE — FOR EVERYONE (H.R. 676, Medicare for All )
This article addresses the questions:
*Does the economy benefit when the rich can afford better health care than can the rest of Americans?
*Aside from improved health care, what are the other economic effects of “Medicare for everyone?”
*How much would it cost taxpayers?
*Who opposes it?”
3. PROVIDE A MONTHLY ECONOMIC BONUS TO EVERY MAN, WOMAN AND CHILD IN AMERICA (similar to Social Security for All) (The JG (Jobs Guarantee) vs the GI (Guaranteed Income) vs the EB (Economic Bonus)) Or institute a reverse income tax.
This article is the fifth in a series about direct financial assistance to Americans:
Why Modern Monetary Theory’s Employer of Last Resort is a bad idea. Sunday, Jan 1 2012
MMT’s Job Guarantee (JG) — “Another crazy, rightwing, Austrian nutjob?” Thursday, Jan 12 2012
Why Modern Monetary Theory’s Jobs Guarantee is like the EU’s euro: A beloved solution to the wrong problem. Tuesday, May 29 2012
“You can’t fire me. I’m on JG” Saturday, Jun 2 2012
Economic growth should include the “bottom” 99.9%, not just the .1%, the only question being, how best to accomplish that. Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) favors giving everyone a job. Monetary Sovereignty (MS) favors giving everyone money. The five articles describe the pros and cons of each approach.
4. FREE EDUCATION (INCLUDING POST-GRAD) FOR EVERYONE Five reasons why we should eliminate school loans
Monetarily non-sovereign State and local governments, despite their limited finances, support grades K-12. That level of education may have been sufficient for a largely agrarian economy, but not for our currently more technical economy that demands greater numbers of highly educated workers.
Because state and local funding is so limited, grades K-12 receive short shrift, especially those schools whose populations come from the lowest economic groups. And college is too costly for most families.
An educated populace benefits a nation, and benefitting the nation is the purpose of the federal government, which has the unlimited ability to pay for K-16 and beyond.
5. SALARY FOR ATTENDING SCHOOL
Even were schooling to be completely free, many young people cannot attend, because they and their families cannot afford to support non-workers. In a foundering boat, everyone needs to bail, and no one can take time off for study.
If a young person’s “job” is to learn and be productive, he/she should be paid to do that job, especially since that job is one of America’s most important.
6. ELIMINATE FEDERAL TAXES ON BUSINESS
Businesses are dollar-transferring machines. They transfer dollars from customers to employees, suppliers, shareholders and the federal government (the later having no use for those dollars). Any tax on businesses reduces the amount going to employees, suppliers and shareholders, which diminishes the economy. Ultimately, all business taxes reduce your personal income.
7. INCREASE THE STANDARD INCOME TAX DEDUCTION, ANNUALLY. (Refer to this.) Federal taxes punish taxpayers and harm the economy. The federal government has no need for those punishing and harmful tax dollars. There are several ways to reduce taxes, and we should evaluate and choose the most progressive approaches.
Cutting FICA and business taxes would be a good early step, as both dramatically affect the 99%. Annual increases in the standard income tax deduction, and a reverse income tax also would provide benefits from the bottom up. Both would narrow the Gap.
8. TAX THE VERY RICH (THE “.1%) MORE, WITH HIGHER PROGRESSIVE TAX RATES ON ALL FORMS OF INCOME. (TROPHIC CASCADE)
There was a time when I argued against increasing anyone’s federal taxes. After all, the federal government has no need for tax dollars, and all taxes reduce Gross Domestic Product, thereby negatively affecting the entire economy, including the 99.9%.
But I have come to realize that narrowing the Gap requires trimming the top. It simply would not be possible to provide the 99.9% with enough benefits to narrow the Gap in any meaningful way. Bill Gates reportedly owns $70 billion. To get to that level, he must have been earning $10 billion a year. Pick any acceptable Gap (1000 to 1?), and the lowest paid American would have to receive $10 million a year. Unreasonable.
9. FEDERAL OWNERSHIP OF ALL BANKS (Click The end of private banking and How should America decide “who-gets-money”?)
Banks have created all the dollars that exist. Even dollars created at the direction of the federal government, actually come into being when banks increase the numbers in checking accounts. This gives the banks enormous financial power, and as we all know, power corrupts — especially when multiplied by a profit motive.
Although the federal government also is powerful and corrupted, it does not suffer from a profit motive, the world’s most corrupting influence.
10. INCREASE FEDERAL SPENDING ON THE MYRIAD INITIATIVES THAT BENEFIT AMERICA’S 99.9% (Federal agencies)Browse the agencies. See how many agencies benefit the lower- and middle-income/wealth/ power groups, by adding dollars to the economy and/or by actions more beneficial to the 99.9% than to the .1%.
Save this reference as your primer to current economics. Sadly, much of the material is not being taught in American schools, which is all the more reason for you to use it.
The Ten Steps will grow the economy, and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and you.