Richard Friedlander says our obsession with wealth is impoverishing us.
Funny… I used to think that to earn something meant to deserve it. That worth was synonymous with quality. That to be compensated was to make up for a loss. That equity had something to do with justice. That welfare was synonymous with well-being. How wrong I was.
“The business of America is business,” said Calvin Coolidge, and our language confirms this. Whenever you hear the words, worth, earn, compensate, equity, and even welfare, odds-on the subject is money.
These changes in meaning soft pedal our loss. To read that three Americans own as much wealth as the bottom half of the country's population tells us nothing about any of them as people. The amassing of wealth is a quantity: a marker for one’s status among peers.
Elections often go not to the most qualified candidate, but the biggest war-chest. The tax on unearned income is usually less than that earned by human effort. Universities say they must compete with corporations to retain teachers, because the lure isn’t the chance to better society, but comparable pay. It’s not surprising, then, that the goal of many liberal arts colleges is to churn out entrepreneurs.