Saturday, January 14, 2012

Economic (in)Justice

We have talked in class about an intersectional analysis of the world, where we hone our critical lenses across issues of gender, race, sexuality, social class, ability and other like categories. As you think about issues of social class and economic injustice, why do you think that feminists would take these issues up? What makes money and class a "feminist issue?"

I want to raise a few issues for you to think about in this regard...


1) Jonathan Kozol is a well known writer who talks about issues of economic injustice. (You can find selections of his work on my electronic reserves, though they are not part of the assigned reading for this class.) Like Johnson, he looks at how systems are designed weapons that keep poor people in their place because it locks people out of opportunities and into low paying jobs without mobility. When offered few avenues for mobility, people get trapped by a system that claims to help them. Kozol would call this "class warfare."

2) That term — "class warfare" — is getting lots of airtime in the news and public discourse right now. As we debate the current state of our economy, the unemployment rates, the deficit, the tax code, we hear each side of the political argument staking their claims.
  • President Obama, in a speech on Monday 9/19/11, explained, "It is not class warfare... it is math." Obama's Speech defined his agenda for creating policy that reflects his committment to equity and tax reform.
  • Warren Buffet suggest that we are in a state of "class warfare" but in a statement last spring he noted, "“There’s class warfare, all right,” Mr. Buffett said, “but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.
  • Elizabeth Warren tries to redefine "class warfare" as well. "There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody..."
3) So how does public policy create and reproduce the state of our lives? See these charts below that reflect how our national goods get divided among our society. Play with the graph and try to understand what it means for our economy and our lives.


Would love to hear your comments on any or all of this... remember that my job is to help you understand the arguments. Your job is to then form an opinion and a position about where YOU stand on this issues and how they will inform the kind of personal reflections you bring to the world!

15 comments:

Kayla said...

I really liked the Obama Speech. Whether or not people agree with what choices he is making as president, I think it is great that he is acknowledging the issue of "class welfare". He points out the importance of not letting these issues fall on the shoulders of our children, he says we need to avoid cutting more opportunity for education and avoiding losing programs such as Medicare. Some efforts are being made to help those working and middle class people. Let's hope that as a society we can help each other build equality! (I heard today that Hostess is filing for Chapter 11, which means they're going out of business...so if one of the biggest, well known snack industries is saying goodbye, can you only imagine what these small, struggling families are losing? It's crazy!)

Belle said...

This reminds me of a couple of things:
1. The rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer
2. It's free for those who can afford it and not for sale for those who can't afford it
3. Vanessa's story about her experience at the bank

I read Obama's speech, and I feel like he really understands the struggle, he says "The government has to do what families across this country have been doing for years. We have to cut what we can’t afford to pay for what really matters."
Just like Kayla said he doesn't want to cut the things that can help kids in the future like educational things and Medicare which is also extremely important!

Mike Hartley said...

Warren Buffet is an interesting man to me. I remember reading an article by him in the fall saying that the rich should pay MORE taxes. It struck me that one of the richest men in the world was asking for the rich to be taxed more. In that article he talks about, as this article does, that he pays more taxes percentage-wise than his secretaries. I also think Obama makes great points and Michelle Bachmann clearly represents the wealthy and big corporations. I took a budgeting course in the spring and the professor explained even if the tax system was at a flat rate, the wealthy would still pay less because of all the tax breaks there are. Just something else for Congress and the President to fight over.

Andrew Cavanaugh said...

I'm with Mike on this. I've seen Warren Buffet speak a few times on the state of the economy and the country as a whole and every time he impresses me in some way. Buffet and President Obama seem to see eye to eye on a lot of different topics such as taxing the rich slightly more than normal (when I say normal I mean within the last 30 or so years since Reagan was in office) and keeping huge conglomerations in check. Obama and Buffett seem to get the fact that we need to keep the interest of the greater good in mind rather than the few that can afford the new monthly sports car. What strikes me is that Buffet himself was almost shunned by his own "rich" community when he spoke up about the possible tax increase. Only Buffet and Bill Gates were open to the slight increase. Here are two of the richest men in the world standing up for the rest of us. It's too bad more couldn't take example from them.

Jean Alper said...

I was most struck by the Elizabeth Warren video and the article about it. For a long time, I have been very conflicted about my feelings on increasing taxes for the wealthy. Warren's quote about how nobody gets rich on their own (and the following explanation) really got me thinking because I do believe that everyone should be taxed in order to make their city a safe place to live and to provide education for kids. However, I also believe that everyone should keep what they put in the work to get. So it's hard for me to say that people who have worked to make more should have to give up more just to even things out. But at the same time, I don't think it's fair that some people have to work twenty times harder than others just to get the same opportunities and same income. The topics and links in this post have given me a lot more to think about within this confusing subject!!

Jose Garcia said...

I've already talked about this on somebody else's blog. The fact that the wealthier should get taxed more should be a no brainer. People who are rich make millions upon millions of dollars. Most of which just kinda sits in a bank. The wealthy say they pay their taxes and they do. They pay more taxes that what a good lawyer will make in a lifetime. But what the wealthy have to understand is that they have more money than they will ever use. one million dollars is a weekend trip to a wealthy man, but to a poor man one million dollars is freedom. Just my thoughts on the matter.

Brandon Yost said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brandon Yost said...

I believe that money and class is a feminist issue, because there are less wealthy women then there are men, and it is often harder for women to be part of the upper class. I started off by looking at the “state of working America” graphs and found that the average incomes in the U.S. grew by $38,216 between 1917 and 2008, and the richest 10% got 51 % of that growth, when the bottom 90% shared only 49%! I think its crazy that many big corporations and wealthy people often pay less in taxes then working class people and middle class people. I really like the speech by Obama, and I’m glad that he agrees that it’s only fair for the wealthy to pay the same taxes as the rest of us. Obama said that the wealthy Americans should go back to paying the same taxes they did before the Bush tax cuts in the 90s because that was only suppose to be temporary anyway. He also said “ middle class families shouldn’t pay higher taxes then the millionaires and billionaires” which I agree with 100 percent. I hope that Obama does go through with these tax changes; because I also agree with the last statement he said, which is “ we know what’s right. It’s time to do what’s right.”

Ryland said...

I don't know how to solve the nation debt crisis. It is a daunting task that I think is honestly beyond the point of debate... Ben Stein said the U.S. nation debt was around 1 trillion in 2006... it is now 15 trillion ("15" with 12 zeros after it!). That is $135,000 of debt per tax payer. We cannot afford to have politicians solving (or not solving in this case) this problem, we need economists and financial professionals solving it. Career politicians' main priority is to get reelected, not to actually solve the problem. If they can push the problem back until they are out of office, that is what they will do. Action needs to be taken immediately if we expect to make it out of this with an intact United Sates. Increased taxes (all around), spending cuts, and a variety of other things need to take place for us to get out of this.

This is scary - http://www.usdebtclock.org/

Christopher Margadonna said...

I enjoyed all your links Dr. Bogad. The one video that stuck out to me and clearly a lot of others after it went viral was the video that Elizabeth Warren did on Class Warfare. I really enjoyed her approach of fixing the problem saying, "Don't do those things." It's true in a way if we thought out all of this then maybe we wouldn't be in the place we are now. The most noted quote she says is, "No one got rich on their own." This idea of together we build and pay a society but only some get to reap the benefits. Warren says, "You hired workers the rest of us payed to educate." We are the fools who keep letting these people be in power and yet nothing is being done for those of the middle class. She has these powerful words as well to wrap up her video saying, "Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea? God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along." The idea that the rich should pay forward for what the working class has worked so hard to keep them in their place of power. Warren is a great advocate for helping us fix this social class mess we have bonded ourselves into.

Ethan Smith said...

I know I will be in the minority when I say that I agree with Michelle Bachman, but thats just honestly how I feel. I could write pages after pages in a rant explaining why I do in fact agree with her, but I won't take it that far. I just want to say one thing. I feel as if it is a common theme nowadays for people to place all of this blame on the wealthy class. Calling them greedy and insensitive to others and I can understand why. The poor people in this country love to point the finger and blame the wealthy for their misfortunes. I just want to say that my grandfather was an irish immagrant who worked on a farm. He was so so poor and had nothing. The only made his family made was to be used to supoort is own fathers alcohol abuse. He would have to go everyday to pick up his father at work to make sure he wouldnt spend his whole check at a local bar so that he and his brothers and sisters would have something to eat. My grandfather has passed now, but he worked his ass off until he was 86 years old to provide for my dad and my family, my cousins, and uncle. He is worth a good amount of money and thanks to him I will never have to worry about not having food or a house over my head. The reason I tell this story is because anyone who works hard can become succuessful rich or poor. The fact that our goverment wants to take the money he worked hard for all his life to feed crack heads on the street truly makes my blood boil. I hope I dont come across as ignorant, but this is just how I feel. How dare someone say to me that I need to be taxed. The money that my family has was earned through years and years of sacrafice and hard work and because of this we have the right to do what we want with it. If that means letting it sit in a bank for 25 years not being touched than so be it. Thats the luxury we have.

Annisia said...

I also agree with kayla, I too really like the Obama Speech. As president he is doing a good job at looking at class welfare. I like that he feels that something needs to be done about it so it doesn't go on further and that programs that may be "lost" like medicare are ways to make sure it doesn't happen. Obama's awareness for this is good for the United States.

FALLONMORGERA said...

I like how you showed the contradictions in opinion based on political party. Republican Michele Bachmann thinks taxing the wealthy is another form of class welfare. Obama believes that its just math. I don't think there will ever be an agreement between the two parties. Republicans tend to be wealthy people, while democrats are a lot of the time middle lower class citizens. I know this is not always true, but I dont think the rich will ever agree with the decision of taxing the wealthy. Steps need to be made to better the economic situation our country in, and one way or another not everyone will be happy. But I do think, all the different classes and resistance and stereotypes that come with these classes have a lot to do with the bad economic situation our country is in.

yem-deja's thoughts said...

After reading this it did open my eyes and explain more what i thought i knew. i completely agree with what Mr.Buffet is saying and it does make a lot sense. Also he is one of the few that put this ball that is rolling into to full spin. I fucking hate Michelle Barchmann i think she is foolish and does not know what the hell she is talking. She said that it would be" compromising the future of our children". Does she know that we are in debt crisis which is affecting the children of today she is freaking moron. Also she does not listen or read because in Pres. Obama speech he does make it clear in what he want to do. But again she says " President Obama shouldn't enact warfare of small business, on charities on the middle class America with increased tax burdens. This show that she clearly did not listen or read the president speech. But this Bachmann we are talking about who is freaking moron.

Vanessa Brache said...

I listened to Obama's Speech:

As simple as this quote is, its so true. He states, "So Washington has to live within its means. The government has to do what families across this country have been doing for years. We have to cut what we can’t afford to pay for what really matters. We need to invest in what will promote hiring and economic growth now while still providing the confidence that will come with a plan that reduces our deficits over the long-term." Debt is only created by buying things one simply can not afford. So instead of investing money in areas that truly are not profitable in the means of it being necessary then it shouldn't be a necessity. The nation needs to go back to the fundamentals of there being jobs, to have money for families to put food on the table, shelter , and health care.

Lets keep things simple! Obama states, "Everyone should do their part so that the burdens is not too much on ones own". This is where we all must come together and help each other out!