Opportunity is not synonymous with outcome. Understanding this concept is critical to understanding the plight of those who are fighting against the rising disparity of income levels we now see in this country. Most would agree, in America, those who work the hardest and the smartest "should" be rewarded the most. We were all taught to believe in this principle as it is the foundation of capitalism. However, what if the playing fields are not level? What if there are those who are given certain opportunities while others are given tremendous obstacles or even worse denied those same opportunities? Equal opportunity and access is in most cases equivalent to positive outcomes. Those of us who fight against the rising disparity of income levels are not fighting for equal outcome; we are fighting for equal opportunity. We know that if the playing fields are level or in other words if everyone has the same opportunities, the outcomes will be much different than we are seeing now.
Everyone is not in favor of equal opportunities for all people. There are those who have achieved a level of success and believe that equal access/opportunity means equal competition. They are intimidated by this competition -- by any story such as Patrice Stevens, formerly homeless and addicted to drugs. Patrice was given a second chance by the Salvation Army and now has full time employment. They don't like to hear stories such as Jason Mercado who was homeless but given a second chance by a program that allowed him to use a kitchen to launch his baking business. In the minds of those who have achieved a certain level of success, the pie is not large enough to share with everyone, especially those who might represent a less expensive, lower class workforce.
Hence the "Greed Agenda" is given birth by those who are wealthy who have become masters at convincing those who are not wealthy that the Greed Agenda will actually benefit them. This agenda has a mission to create a permanent underclass of society perpetually increasing in size. The more people in this underclass category, the more wealth can be attained by Greed Agenda proponents who are also masters of maintaining a workforce that must out of necessity work for a low minimum wage.
The Greed Agenda is exposed simply by analyzing some of the issues within it such as the following:
• Fight against raising minimum wage - Even though today's minimum wage is 25 percent below what it was in 1968 (adjusted for inflation) proponents of this Greed Agenda not only oppose raising it, but many have been in favor of eliminating a minimum wage altogether. This, of course, maintains an underclass of society and allows the greed proponents to take advantage of cheap labor.
• Fight against extending unemployment insurance - Even though there is only ONE job for every three people unemployed they still continue to fight against giving unemployment insurance to help those unemployed keep food on the table.
• Fight against expanding Medicaid - Millions of low income families have already benefited from the expansion of Medicaid which has resulted in an unexpected boost to our economy. However, the Greed Agenda opposes it because if you are poor and unhealthy you are less threatening.
• Fight to cut food stamps - As long as this underclass is poor and hungry they are less threatening and can be more easily exploited.
• Fight against investments in education and job training - There are no stronger threats to proponents of the greed agenda than those who are educated and trained. If this agenda is to work the poor must remain uneducated and untrained.
• Fight against rebuilding infrastructure - The American Jobs Act was condemned by the Greed Agenda from the start because of its investment in infrastructure.
• Fight against unions - As long as the people retain the right to organize they will also demand higher wages.
• Fight against immigration reform - Immigration reform hits greed proponents directly in their pockets. They can no longer hire illegal immigrants to work for them for inexpensive prices if the immigrants are granted citizenship. Additionally when we look at the fact that 57 percent of Ph.D.s working in engineering occupations in this country are immigrants and 50 percent of those who obtain degrees in math and science are international students, it is easily seen that this results in additional competition for the Greed Agenda proponents. Is it any wonder that a college education will soon be only for the wealthy?
What does a victory for the Greed Agenda mean? It means a cheap labor force of poor, uneducated, untrained, underpaid, hungry, and an underclass of individuals so desperate for income they will take any scraps thrown in their direction. Greed Agenda proponents are happy to relish in the opportunity they are presented to go to the best schools while that poor child in Chicago or Detroit fears for his life just to walk to his school. Greed Agenda proponents are happy to take advantage of a system where they can make irresponsible trades to personally earn them millions, cost the public billions, but still feel they are entitled to higher bonuses using public dollars which bailed them out. Greed Agenda proponents are happy to build businesses which are benefactors of millions/billions in tax breaks and corporate welfare, but snarl at the poor mother who simply wants support so she and her children can eat.
Bottom line: Greed Agenda proponents view the poor as commodities to be exploited to cut down on labor costs, increase their bottom line, and keep competition minimal.
Normally I focus on personal responsibility, but seeing these issues resonates within me so strongly that I cannot ignore the need for the 99 percent to come together and fight against the Greed Agenda. I am a proud capitalist, and will forever be in favor of this system. However, capitalism is not the culprit here; we must join together and fight against greed. We must continue to fight against the absence of opportunity for all which has created an outcome that represents a vast disparity in income levels. We must march, vote, and use our voices to expose and eliminate the Greed Agenda. We must create opportunities for everyone. None of us is as strong as all of us so let's come together and let our voices be heard.