Another “Banana Republican” sign: According to a new UN report, as reported in The Guardian, US cities such as New York, Atlanta, New Orleans, Washington, and Miami, now rank among the world’s greatest – in terms of disparity of income. We knew this gap was growing in the US. But did we know that many of our largest cities now compare to cities in Africa in terms of disparities between rich and poor? Did we realize that race was a significant factor in these disparities?
As we face the election of our first Black President, in the midst of the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression, this UN study suggests a potential for civil unrest as well:
“High levels of inequality can lead to negative social, economic and political consequences that have a destabilising effect on societies,” said the report. “[They] create social and political fractures that can develop into social unrest and insecurity.”
It is a tragedy how far the United States has descended from our proud aspirations of social equality, particularly during the past 8 years of the bush administration. It is particularly tragic that republicans have worked so hard to foster wealth-shifting, and divisions along racial, ethnic, and religious divides in addition to wasting so much time, energy, and money on bush’s vendetta with Iraq.
“It is clear that social tension comes from inequality. The trickle down theory [that wealth starts with the rich] has not delivered. Inequality is not good for anybody,” said Anna Tibaijuka, head of UN-Habitat, in London yesterday.
We have traveled so far from our ideals in these 8 years. We have tortured. We have spied on ourselves. We have weakened our Constitutional protections. We have lived way beyond our means as a nation and created a wealthy class to rival the early years of the 20th century. But so many people have paid a terrible price in terms of life expectancy and infant mortality, in a nation which imprisons a greater percentage of our population than any other nation and spends half of the entire world’s military budget.
We have a lot of work to do. We have a lot to undo. So many great tasks lie ahead of us.
We are focused on Nov. 4.
But reducing the disparities in equality, in justice, in health care, and so many other areas lie ahead.
I’m thinking of Nov 5. And beyond.