I agree with Occupiers that income inequality in America is ridiculous. We are at third world level inequality, with the top one percent of the national income bracket taking home a total of 23.5% of the nation’s total income. However, I fundamentally disagree with the Occupy movement on the cause and resolution of our nation’s inequality problems.
As a stout Libertarian, personal responsibility is of the upmost importance to me. That is why I am in the International Baccalaureate programme and plan to get myself into a great college. More Americans, however, feel entitled to everything from a great car to saving and healthcare. Unfortunately, we all need a reminder that you have to work for that. At the end of the day, you need to answer to the type of lifestyle that you live. As Americans, we are failing to live the type of lifestyle we deserve to be living.
If you dissect the most successful countries’ past, present and future, you can tell that they have stark, immediately recognized fundamental differences against countries that are unsuccessful, economically. This difference can be easily summed up in one phenomenon: culture. Culture is defined as “the customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of a particular nation, people, or other social group.” In America, our culture, and thus stakeholders in it, has failed to realize that in order to afford a type of lifestyle, you need to have a steady salary, save for your retirement and kids’ education, and have margin before you spend the money on a new car. This is evident everywhere. Look at layaway at Walmart, the fact that the average American has $15,799 in credit card debt, or our national debt, which can barely be calculated correctly.
In countries like Singapore, which is seen largely as an economic haven, they have a vastly different grasp of money and economics. In 1965, the country was a British colony, with little control of its economy and laws. Since that time, Singapore has grown an average of 8% like clockwork, and is now “ranked first for having the most open economy for international trade and investment” and “is the world’s easiest place to do business.” Additionally, they have among the best education systems in the world, and have the 11th highest quality of life on the UN index. But more importantly, these changes were driven by a vibrant and healthy culture, where the country uses each citizen’s personal drive to increase their productivity to benefit the entire country. Singapore sets the gold standard for what a country can do in less than fifty years.
So, instead of wasting your time, resources, and personal productivity sitting in a park, why don’t you go back to school, start a new company, or at the very least read a good book? America will only return to its full health through education and a commitment to hard work. This may come as a shock to many, but the government is severely limited in its ability to dramatically change our culture. Quit blaming Republicans, Obama, or our government, and go do your part to improve yourself. Your individual commitment to increasing your human capital will prove why America deserves to be leader of the free world.
(Sources: Congressional Budget Office, New Oxford American Dictionary, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, the New York Times, the Economist)