Many say we live in the land of opportunity. The sky is the limit. We can all become who we want to be in life. All the resources are there, now it’s up to the individual whether he would take the opportunities to get where he wants to be in life. Is this always true though? Marx believes because of capitalism this is not true nor would it ever be true. The working class (proletarians) is constantly being exploited by the ones who own the means of production (bourgeois), it is the only way those on top stay on top. We are fed this dream that we can make it also and someday be on top that “those on top at some point were just like the others workers and look at them now” or “hard work pays off at the end, nothing comes easy” the idea keeps you going but in reality you are stuck and not really going anywhere or moving up in the ladder. We sell our commodities (labor) to earn money and with that money earned we buy everyday commodities (shelter, food, etc.) needed in order to survive. The wealth inequality and gap would always be there, if anything with time it gets worse. This is the ongoing cycle that will never end. We would never have the extra money to invest and profit from in order to gain capital or at least many and the majority wont. As the rich get richer the poor get poorer. Get rich or die trying in which there’s a higher possibly you die from old age while trying to succeed at becoming wealthy.
I found both these videos to be very mind blowing. I know that if five years back someone would have shown me the charts on the streets and asked me what I thought the distribution of wealth was I probably would have chosen the middle pie chart like most people did. 20% of the population own 84% of the nation’s wealth is mind blowing, but when I saw the second video and it said that 1% owns 40% of the nation’s wealth I almost stopped breathing! That’s completely insane! Who the heck needs that much money! The bottom 40% owns only 0.3%, that reality almost makes you want to cry. Its sad that people like Denise who has a college degree is losing her home while the filthy rich are buying their children a quarter of a million dollar play house.
I can respect what Warren Buffet said, to some extent the wealthy owe some of their good fortune to the rest of society. And he made a good point when he said that teachers and doctors are far more valuable than a ceo of a company. Most Americans don’t realize the extreme inequality and that’s probably because we view America as the land of opportunity. And we are not a third world country, and even those of us who do; feel helpless, and there is nothing we can do about it. If Marx were alive today he wouldn’t be surprised. the bourgeoisie continue to exploit the proletariat
After watching “Land of the Free, Home of the Poor”. It was shocking to see the reality of our income inequality. I would of liked to have seen more people realize the issue than a bunch of seemingly oblivious drones. Being that I work in the Financial industry it’s easy to see how the rich seem to get richer and those not at the level are stuck struggling just to scrape by.
I especially enjoyed watching “Wealth Inequality in America” since it broke it down in several graphs and images which make it simple to see how skewed income inequality actually is in the U.S. The chart of the U.S. income breakdown is a clear example of Marx’s idea that capitalism causes inequality. Also, since Sweden’s “chart” was among the favorite as an ideal breakdown of income, maybe we should be taking notes as to how they run their society. All in all, it is clear that the U.S. has a major income inequality problem that seems to only be worsening. Hopefully some change is able to occur to relieve the issue.
After watching the videos, “Land of the Free, Home of the Poor” and “Wealth Inequality in America” I am shocked by what I learned. First of all the wealth distribution is so beyond unequal and is way off from what most Americans believe it to be or what the ideal would be. The wealth of the top 1% couldn’t even fit on the chart. The top 20% had much different wealth distribution on the spectrum. The bottom part of the 20% was basically middle class and the middle class was not much higher than the lower class. In “Wealth Inequality in America” they even mentioned an employee of the CEO has to work over a month just to make what the CEO makes in just one hour. These workers are made to be like robots and it is definitely not fair how little they are being paid. In “Land of the Free, Home of the poor” I was surprised to see how Sweden’s wealth distribution was so equal and that when the man asked Americans which pie chart of wealth distribution they thought belonged to America, they chose Sweden’s. This showed how uneducated Americans are about how unfair the wealth distribution is. It is just not right how the top 20% of Americans hold 84% of US wealth while in the meantime there are so many people falling under the poverty line. These videos are similar to Marx’s views on capitalism and how it was an engine for inequality. Marx’s theory explains how working class people don’t have much of a choice when it comes to jobs because they really just need to pay their bills and put food on the table. The wealthy and big companies take advantage of these people knowing they can pay them minimum wage for working long hours and getting much done in those hours (working like a robot). These working people cannot lash out because they can’t take the risk of losing their job because that means no money. This is probably why most people have negative feelings towards work, as we learned in class today.
“Land of the Free, Home of the Poor”
My first thought on just reading the title “Land of the Free, Home of the Poor” is that it is right on the money. Many people from other countries come to America for a better life, future, and to one day attain the American dream of owning a house and raising their family. Many sought out for opportunities that were never ideal in their birth countries. But even with the freedom that this country provides for its people, majority of the population is still living in poverty and even with working hard, many barely make it.
After listening to the video “Land of the Free, Home of the Poor”, I was not surprised by the findings. It is obvious that the rich keeps getting richer and the poor keeps getting poorer, unless by a miracle someone wins the lottery. But in most cases those lucky ones ends up declaring bankruptcy. In the video, over 90% of the people interviewed underestimated the extent of wealth inequality by picking the Swedish wealth profile as the category they thought represented America. In a sense, everyone desires for something more than what they currently have. Modern day Marx would say we are either categorized as the ‘haves’ and the ‘have not’s’ .
“Wealth Inequality in America”
Yes, it was surprising. Knowing that one can’t distinguish a lower class from the middle class in today’s society, is quite shocking. The poorest Americans don’t even register on the chart, whereas only the top one percent is a billionaire. This is outrageous. A CEO does not work 380 times harder than its employees. The average worker needs to work more than a month to make what a CEO would make in an hour. Not all people are aware of its reality but this is capitalism and the truth behind it. The ones that profits off of capitalism are the ones that control it. Some may prefer to listen and make themselves aware of these issues while the majority is only interested in Justin Bieber’s daily adventures.
I was surprised by the findings in both videos. I always knew that the distribution of wealth was unequal but not to that extreme. I feel that these findings somewhat prove Marx’s theory that capitalism is an engine of inequality. The working class works extremely hard, six to seven days a week and barely makes enough money to afford rent or money for their bills. According to the videos, the reality is that the working classes are considered poor. I was surprised by how some people in the video did believe that the way money is actually distributed in this country is the right way. That is because many people believe in that American way that you need to work hard to achieve the American dream. To me, these videos show me that the government and CEOs offer incentives to be working robots in this country. Marx theory explains that capitalists pay their workers as little pay as possible and workers agree to this pay because there are too many people from the working class begging for jobs, desperately trying to make money for this “American dream”. Just like the video title says, this country is the land of the free and home of the poor.
Sometimes our perception of something may influence our ability to understand the reality of a situation. I think most Americans have been purposely blinded to the cruel reality of our economic system and inequality of wealth among the country. I have always understood that there was sever inequality when it came to money, but I never seen or actually understood the statistics. Additionally, I don’t really know how I feel about the inequality. Is it fair to penalize those who have worked for years for all they have? But, is it fair to those who struggle living paycheck to paycheck that never get a chance to financially prosper? I don’t know that I or anyone else can really answer these questions.
To me, capitalism represents the rich being rich, the poor being poor and everyone else just working or existing to support the two extremes. Socialism is the opposite in that all people have an equal amount of money. I was surprised when I watched the videos and really thought about the inequality, in fact it made rather upset. Firstly, to think of all those who are living at or below the poverty level compared to the 1% is something I cannot wrap my head around. We all live in the same nation, with the same presidents and the same opportunities; America, the land of opportunity. A place that I’m sure so many people would drop everything and leave their country if they were given the chance. Moreover, I was completely shocked to see that there was not a drastic difference between those considered low and middle class in terms of the percentages. I consider the middle class the hardest working of all the classes.
These videos and statistics have made me realize that we are not all equal and although we like to think equality exists among us, it does not. I do not think that the inequality is or can be controlled by anyone. However, I do think that there should be something done to decrease the wealth inequality gap in the United States. We must create a happy medium between capitalism and socialism to bring us a better change of economic equality among Americans.