Take the final step!


From Maxed Out, an excellent book about the current “era of predatory lenders,” in the conclusion, wondering why the exploitation has gotten so bad.

Perhaps…there have always been only two classes of people: owners and renters.

Perhaps the wealthy are simply those who own, regardless of the amount, and the poor are those who borrow their capitol and goods, no matter how impressive those goods may look parked in front of a big house that is also, in fact, rented.

To which a Marxist would say, take the final step. Put the pieces together. Yes, that’s precisely what’s happening. The ruling class is fattening itself by extracting huge amounts of money from the working class. That’s how they stay rich. Vicious and usurious lending schemes backed with a wink and a nod from Congress are simply one more example how the ruling class exploits the rest of us.

When the problems are systemic, then the solution is to change the system.

  • dj

    So what is “the next step”? Is there a system that has ever eliminated the upper class while at the same time improving things for the lower classes? (I make that caveat because Pol Pot did the former, but not the latter.)

    In pre-democratic times, in most societies, the number of elites were 1-5% of the population, while the rest lived in virtual or actual slavery, owning almost nothing and lucky if they got enough to eat. According to the Census in 2005, 69% of Americans owned their own home, up from 64% in 1985. That’s 2/3 of our society that is now included in property ownership. Is there a system that has done better on a societal level?

    For comparison, France had a home ownership rate of 55% in 1999, and is reported to have one of the highest rates in the world of second-home ownership. The two highest home ownership rates in the world are New Zealand (71%) and Australia (70%). At 69%, we’re only slightly behind them.

    We all agree that the current system is not perfect. It has some huge problems, in fact. But it has done two things: reduce the lower class from 95%+ to under 1/3, and increase the base level at which the lower class lives. I’ve seen families housed in palm leaf huts too small for them to stand up, or for them all to lie down at the same time– and they weren’t even refugees, who tend to live worse. What we call poverty in the U.S. would be considered wealthy in many parts of the world. So let’s fix what we’ve got. It seems to be the best thing going so far.

  • When the gap between the wealthy and everyone else gets too wide, and continues to widen, as it happening now, then invariably there will be social unrest.

    A better way is to flatten out the classes, make the gap less. In Cuba, for example, the heads of the extremely powerful unions can only make 10% more than the workers. Does Cuba have problems? Sure. But they also don’t have homeless and they do have free education and health care.

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