Economic inequality and Democrats

Some things I didn’t know about politics in America until reading “The Vanishing Republican Voter” from the NY Times Magazine.

“As a general rule, the more unequal a place is, the more Democratic; the more equal, the more Republican.”

This may explain why when I picture a Republican, I think small-town farmer in the Midwest and when I picture a Democrat, I think university professor in New England.

“But something else is true, too: As America becomes more unequal, it also becomes less Republican. The trends we have dismissed are ending by devouring us.”

In the end, what my main concern in politics is, economy, is what Americans care about most. Forget the social issues and morality issues, when those are rarely a large part of your life. It’s the economy and how you’re doing compared to others in American society that truly hits home every day, not whether gays are allowed to marry, not whether stem cells are harvested from embryos, not whether a woman is allowed to abort.

“The family revolution coincided with another: a great shift from a national to a planetary division of labor. Inequality within nations is rising in large part because inequality is declining among nations. A generation ago, even a poor American was still better off than most people in China. Today the lifestyles of middle-class Chinese increasingly approximate those of middle-class Americans, while the lifestyles of upper and lower America increasingly diverge. Less-skilled Americans now face hundreds of millions of new wage competitors, while highly skilled Americans can sell their services in a worldwide market.”

The one thing that neither McCain nor Obama has tackled is the issue of the growing worldwide middle class (from China to India), which has placed increasing strains on worldwide food supply and other resources. As more and more people are lifted from poverty and educated, they diminish America’s competitiveness on the global scale. The U.S. already has one of the highest corporate tax rates, which has drawn companies to do business elsewhere. The country’s educational state is abysmal and other countries, whose educational systems are better, are taking advantage of our colleges and universities. At UCLA, I’m just as likely to run into a Korean or Taiwanese citizen as I am an American. This country’s institutions are stuck in the 1950s when the rest of the world has moved to the new millenium. Saddening.

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