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Constructive Dissent: USA on a Threshold

Margaret Gangte

The American political system in the last several decades
nurtured a system where the bubbles seen over the years have exploded on Wall
Street recently. The accumulated grievance borne from the system would seem now
to be difficult to be redressed through the usual political system. In other
words, to redress the problem would need more drastic change than mere advocacy
for reforms on the superstructure, without overhauling the system to benefit
everyone on the national wealth.

The decline in income distribution is a result of the broad
inequality created by the 1 percent versus the 99 percent. The past trend on
income growth in the last 30 years reveals increased income for the top rich by
275 percent while the income of the bottom 20 percent grew by only 18 percent. The
sharp distinction of the top and bottom level is attributed to the declining
productive force at the bottom 20 percent whose jobs have been sent elsewhere
around the world for accessing cheaper labor, while productivity remained
intact for the middle class. Further, the jobless situation is created by the
corporate self-interest whose pursuit for profit compelled for retrenchment
without social responsibility rendering millions jobless. The super rich
control the system for increased investment abroad enriching them more and
more, and reducing the bottom level to poverty conditions over time.

It is argued
that the top 1percent in a 15 trillion dollar economy equalize the economy
through tax contribution. For example, during the Reagan era the super rich paid
29 percent. Currently, they pay 38 percent. It is felt that the wealth acquired
from overseas investment does not exploit domestic source and therefore, the
slogan of ‘income inequality’ in a world of glaring inequality everywhere is a
media ploy to distract. Besides, the general income does not indicate much
difference from the 1990s to the 2000s except that the rich are much richer
now. The Tea Party and the Wall Street occupiers, consisting of only 20 percent
against the super rich 1 percent, cannot be considered to represent the entire
American society or be looked upon as a threat to the system.

The argument in defense of the system seems to have
forgotten ‘inclusion’ and has ignored the overall decline in the socio-economy
of America. The statistics against the global trend revealed the sinking
American life in terms of infrastructure, education, health (obesity over 30
percent), the burden of a mandatory responsibility towards social security
expenditure and the huge national deficit hung on the mercy of China.

Defending national interest entails adopting an approach of
‘constructive dissent.’ Such a posture postulates for an honest solution, ie. explore
the possibilities to increase revenue, maybe by deploying Robin Hood’s tax and
broadening the tax base, as 51 percent of Americans do not pay tax; or reduce
military expenditure but earn from defense technical cooperation, deploying
Americans in American owned corporations and practice austerity. It is
important for America not to ignore the implications of the 20 percent
discontentment as a significant prelude to the future and contemplate on
modifying the capitalist structure rather than glossing it with superstructure
reforms for a possible catastrophe. The internal arrangement will then guide
the foreign policy suitably.

Margaret Gangte is the director of the Ministry of Defense for the Government of India. Email: [email protected]

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