‘To My Fellow Filthy Rich Americans: Wake Up, People. The Pitchforks Are Coming’


Excerpted from Nick Hanauer’s OpEd in Politico (read more here),

I’m not the smartest guy you’ve ever met, or the hardest-working. I was a mediocre student. I’m not technical at all—I can’t write a word of code. What sets me apart, I think, is a tolerance for risk and an intuition about what will happen in the future. Seeing where things are headed is the essence of entrepreneurship. And what do I see in our future now?

I see pitchforks.

At the same time that people like you and me are thriving beyond the dreams of any plutocrats in history, the rest of the country—the 99.99 percent—is lagging far behind. The divide between the haves and have-nots is getting worse really, really fast. In 1980, the top 1 percent controlled about 8 percent of U.S. national income. The bottom 50 percent shared about 18 percent. Today the top 1 percent share about 20 percent; the bottom 50 percent, just 12 percent.

But the problem isn’t that we have inequality. Some inequality is intrinsic to any high-functioning capitalist economy. The problem is that inequality is at historically high levels and getting worse every day. Our country is rapidly becoming less a capitalist society and more a feudal society. Unless our policies change dramatically, the middle class will disappear, and we will be back to late 18th-century France. Before the revolution.

And so I have a message for my fellow filthy rich, for all of us who live in our gated bubble worlds: Wake up, people. It won’t last.

If we don’t do something to fix the glaring inequities in this economy, the pitchforks are going to come for us. No society can sustain this kind of rising inequality. In fact, there is no example in human history where wealth accumulated like this and the pitchforks didn’t eventually come out. You show me a highly unequal society, and I will show you a police state. Or an uprising. There are no counterexamples. None. It’s not if, it’s when.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

1 thought on “‘To My Fellow Filthy Rich Americans: Wake Up, People. The Pitchforks Are Coming’”

  1. I disagree with this man. The problem is a little more complex than giving people more money for doing the same work they have done in the past for less money. All that does is raise the rate of inflation.
    30 Graphic Artists in the place where I used to work were laid off and the work subcontracted to India. These were college educated people with a really nice income because they earned it.
    What they did not have is rights. They did not have an organization like a Union that would fight for their jobs. They were working without a contract with the employer. I call them college pros which translates to idiots.
    Now the company squeezed by with the foreign help and lost at least a few million by doing so.
    Many companies are firing the foreign help and trying to hire their employees back. Why? It wasn’t the same quality work they were getting from the home based employees and it was beginning to cost them a lot of money.
    When I retired, most of the old printers retired with me. The next year, I am sure they lost about 15-20 million dollars in advertising. Why? because pros do not always have college educations. Pros save you money if they have 30 or more years of experience in handling the same customers that left when we left.
    The nearest thing to us that company had was people we trained to take our places when we retired. Someone at the top was an accountant. Sad really because he cost that company a lot of money.
    Corporate does not take credit for the financial errors they make. I have seen that over and over again. It is run by a system of fraternity buddies. If you are in the correct social group then you take care of each other.
    I don’t think you are completely wrong. I just think that we need to start protecting that middle class from foreign invasions and foreign manipulation of currency in such a manner to drive the local people out of business. And that is happening every day.
    Protecting our jobs and our lives economically should be the number one priority of both houses of congress regardless of political parties. It isn’t.
    Instead the discretionary income of the middle class is being eaten up by blunders in government that know no end.
    Take health insurance going up to double or triple the amount people paid before. They get better coverage, but at what cost? That is the true blunder of ObamaCare.
    Take Social Security retirement folk. Instead of COLA accurately running the numbers and giving people an honest raise they do the opposite. The last “great” raise amounted to $6 a week. Whoppie! I can one more dinner at a cheap restaurant or 3 TV dinners with the raise. Never mind that every bill we have has gone up dramatically in the last two years.
    There is going to be no pitch fork in your future. More than likely it is going to result in the destruction of both major political parties in the next 6 years! And this time they will not be controlled by the wealthy people of this country.

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