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American Wealth Politics and the Inevitable Cultural Shift


Money is spurring one of the most significant cultural and political changes in our nation’s history.

Photo via Steve Knutson on Unsplash

Let’s begin with a gentle reminder that America — of course — is absolutely filthy rich.

In fact, we are the richest nation on the planet. Most of us wouldn’t know it by walking down the street though. American wealth, to most of us, is almost like an illusion. Why? Because we simply don’t see it on anything other than the TV or an Instagram story. But the real wealth of course, lies with people who would rather we didn’t even know their names. We are kept so intentionally distant from it, that it’s gained this sort of untouchable mystique. It’s hard to envision how any of that wealth is actually out there, let alone could ever work for us.

And that’s exactly how they want it.

By “they” I mean the very richest among us who happen to own more wealth than almost the entire middle and lower classes combined, and would rather we conveniently forgot they actually exist. I assume they’re not too happy that for the first time in decades, we’re really beginning to take notice.

Young people in particular are not only taking notice, we’re asking questions.

Why is it that we can afford to pay for the world’s largest military ten times over without blinking an eye, but anything that could actually benefit us, our families, and our communities is some pie in the sky dream that just doesn’t fit in to the budget? Why is it that multi-billion dollar corporations like Amazon and Netflix didn’t pay a penny in taxes this year, but average Americans like you and I ended up paying more? Why is it that bankers who knowingly and willingly tanked the global economy for their own personal gain are still free to walk the streets and even continue in their respective industry, but low level drug dealers are doing life in prison without the possibility of parole?

It’s sobering really, to come to terms with the depths of the lies we have been told. But I guess all lies come to the surface at one point or another, and the wronged party gets to decide what to do with the truth.

So what is the truth?

The truth is everything we’ve wanted but told we can’t afford to have is actually right there at our fingertips, and they’re actively doing everything they can to make sure we can’t have it.

Knowledge among the masses of American wealth and it’s distribution away from us has lead to the verge of a cultural, ideological, and political shift that has the potential to shape entire future generations. America, for the first time in decades, is coming to terms with a choice that’s growing harder and harder to avoid.

We have the money, now where does it go?

The fact is the amount of that money is so great, that answering that question has prompted people to reconsider everything they thought our country valued and stood for. Of course, our political climate is a direct reflection of the responses to this. It has sparked a natural rise of the left (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders, etc.) that wants to bring more of the wealth back to the middle and lower classes, and a rise of the right (Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, etc.) ready to oppose that change by almost any means necessary.

Change is obviously not always going to bring out the best in us, but for better or worse the degree of response to it is a fairly good indicator of when it’s actually happening. The election of the first African American president for instance, prompted the rise a “Tea Party” group so far to the right that they were literally willing to tank the entire U.S. treasury just to make a point. Of course, it was only further exasperated by an opposition party so weakened and riddled with corruption they could not and would not do anything to stop it. Meanwhile, the middle class continues to shrink and our wealth goes to the top. All of this has culminated into the rise of Donald Trump, who I would argue is the last dying breath of a system so fundamentally broken we have no choice but to fix it or die with it.

In spite of all the resistance, change and cultural shifts become almost inevitable after a while. At some point something has to give, and we are rapidly approaching that point. We are already in the midst of reanalyzing and evaluating everything we have ever been told about the way our capitalist system is supposed to work. Average Americans are beginning to fully comprehend the contributions we have made to our society and the wealth of this country, and I believe we’re on the crux of demanding to have a lot more of it back.



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