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.
- Former Republican Presidential Candidate Michele Bachmann says that efforts to tax the wealthy are a form of class warfare on the rich. Other Republicans are saying the same thing.
- 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.
- Unions who represent many of America's workers suggest that the war is on the middle class and working class working people.
- 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!