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June 2, 2015 5:52 AM Age: 5 yrs
The Economic Syndrome that Dares Not Speak its Name:Category: AC - Billboard, AC RSS, ESG Highlights, ESG Highlighted Commentary, Larry Checco, A/F Commentary & Opinion, ERM Commentary & Opinion, GPG Commentary & Opinion, Wealth and Income Gaps Commentary, CFR Commentary
Source: Larry Checco
Fifty years ago LBJ launched his Great Society, a set of domestic programs the main goal of which was to eliminate poverty and racial injustice in America.
Some estimate that we’ve spent upwards of $22 Trillion taxpayer dollars in hopes of creating such a society. Yet fundamentally little in the way of poverty and racial justice has changed.
Today, 46.5 million Americans live in poverty, 16.1 million of whom are children.
For those of us old enough to remember the 1960s, the recent rioting in Ferguson (Missouri) and Baltimore (Maryland) again brought to light—under very unfortunate, but familiar circumstances—the stark economic and racial divides that continue to exist in America.
So, it’s 50 years later. What do we do now?
Sure, we can continue to try to resolve poverty with yet another array of expensive, socially-conscious endeavors, starting with investing more in early childhood education, programs to support disadvantaged youth, adult education and skill-building opportunities, increasing earned-income tax credits, to name just a few of the usual suspects. And we should.
But there’s an insidious, systemic countervailing force at work in our society that few are willing to acknowledge or do anything about. Yet this pernicious force undermines all the well-intentioned aims of any anti-poverty program you can think of—and it’s called “The Debt Trap!”
The Debt Trap is a tight weave of capitalistic enterprises that leave people locked into perpetual debt, resulting in generations of poverty—and utter hopelessness.
All this is just the tip of the predatory capitalistic iceberg.
Vulnerable populations are often sold financial products they don’t need, are the victims of excessive fees, targets for abusive prepayment penalties, and much more.
For the same reason the housing bubble was allowed to become as big and disastrous as it became—too many people are making too much money!
The real tragedy here is that with one hand we’re asking people to pick themselves up by their bootstraps, and with the other we’re beating them back down.
Many of the social programs we keep foisting on the poor take decades to show results, if they show results at all. The predatory practices referred to above—all of which are legal; ethical, not so much—can be mitigated almost instantly with the stroke of a pen.
A good first step would be for legislators to ban usurious interest rates and to keep these predatory industries—which, by the way, employ an army of lobbyists to influence our lawmakers—out of already vulnerable, poverty-stricken neighborhoods.
All it would take is some social and political will.
Now there’s a concept that dares not speak its name—for shame!
Contents (c) 2015 by Larry Checco -- All Rights Reserved.
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