Someone Asked me Why I Hate my Country
The question was meant to be facetious, not insulting. But still, it caused me think about the issue – what it means “to hate” or “to love one’s country”.
It is an issue on which the elites who control our country – our elected politicians, as well as those who pay them to do their bidding – place a great deal of emphasis. More specifically, they use it to marginalize those who disagree with how our country is run.
These are the elites who refer to those who express opinions against the wars that they generate or support as “unpatriotic” or “treasonous”. They are the people who use the term “class warfare” to attack those who believe that the wealthy should pay their fair share of taxes, commensurate with what their country does for them. They are those who use the epithet “socialist” to describe anyone who believes that government should play an active role in providing opportunities for the most vulnerable of our citizens. They coined the term “loony conspiracy theorist” to describe anyone who expresses serious disagreement with their own version of history. They wield the term “big government” to express their ideology that only private individuals and corporations are capable of making contributions to society, thereby advancing the argument that the government that governs least is the government that governs best. They use the term “bleeding heart liberal” to describe anyone who expresses empathy for the unfortunate.
The United States exhibits the greatest level of income inequality of any of the rich nations of the world. Consequently, as of 2007 a study showed that more than a third of the wealth in the United States was held by the top 1% of households, while about 15% was held by the lower 80%.
Income inequality in the United States plunged during the 1930s with the onset of FDR’s New Deal. It then remained quite low for several decades, until the beginning of Ronald Reagan’s Presidency. It then began a precipitous climb, with a sharp decline beginning during the last year of Clinton’s Presidency, but then another sharp increase beginning at about the time that the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy first went into effect, so that by the end of 2006 we exceeded even the peak ratio of 1929 that preceded the Great Depression.
Epidemiologists Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett demonstrate in their book, “The Spirit Level – Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger”, numerous non-economic consequences of obscene income inequality that are independent of absolute income or wealth. These consequences include more mental illness, greater use of illegal drugs, higher imprisonment rate, higher infant mortality rate, more homicides, lower educational performance of our children, lower index of child well-being, lower trust in our fellow citizens, and lower status of women, among other adverse societal effects.
A nation’s level of income and wealth inequality is largely a product of its laws and policies. A high level of national income and wealth inequality generally means that its elites have been successful in arranging its laws and policies to enhance their own wealth and power at the expense of everyone else.