Americans make choices that have consequences

Posted: Nov. 6, 2017 11:45 am

To The Herald-Whig:

I feel obligated to respond to Steve Miller's Oct. 20 letter. He alleged that the Republican Party is the basis for wealth inequality. I must disagree.

History repeats. All societies throughout human existence have had to deal with trade, unemployment, human motivation, or the lack of, work programs and inflation. The same debates that we currently have are similar to those our forefathers had. In some cases, they became personal.

For instance, Martha Washington deplored the fact that she had to play hostess for Thomas Jefferson at a Mount Vernon gathering that was essentially a photo-op for the new president.

Because of technology, our understanding of the world seems a bit more distorted than in previous generations. One example is the notion of one's standard of living. It would seem for many that poverty is something new. It isn't. America's population finally surpassed the 100 million mark as recorded in the 1920 census. Remarkably, 70 million of the 105 million population was defined as living below the poverty line -- that's a lot higher than today's 13 to 14.5 percent. Less than 6 percent of the nation's wealth was owned by America's poorest 60 percent in 1920. The richest 1 percent possessed 16 percent of all the money in the United States.

In simple terms, most Americans did not have electricity; they possessed outhouses, and could not afford a car -- even though a minority enjoyed splendor.

It would not be until post-World War II with the creation of the G.I. Bill that America's entire population prospered because of high government spending and consumer demand. That consumer culture has created a paradox. We now have many who are classified as poor, yet have items that would be deemed luxuries by economists.

Without this oddity of selling a once unattainable lifestyle to the poor, unemployment would increase due to lack of manufacturing and supporting the service sector. Thus, everyone should own a smartphone, have Netflix and eat out three times a week.

We are not victims of a political party. We make choices.

I've expressed to some that eating lamb and asparagus at home for my family of four costs the same as going to McDonald's.

We must live with the consequences of our decisions.


Robin Anderson

Hannibal, Mo.