First, the system is rigged. Wealthy individuals and corporations have disproportionate influence
over public policy because of the often decisive role that money plays in elections. If the rich and
powerful act in their self-interest, as conservative ideologues believe we all should do, then the rich
and powerful’s share of income will continue to soar.
Second, and more broadly, the real issue is what kind of nation we want to be. Thomas Jefferson’s
“All men are created equal” is properly understood as calling for equality of opportunity, not equality
of outcomes. But the more we become a nation of rich and poor, the less we can pretend to be offering
the same opportunities to every American. As polarization increases, mobility declines. The whole
point of the American Dream is that it is available to everyone, not just those who awaken from
their slumbers on down-filled pillows and 800-thread-count sheets.
So it does matter that as the pie grows, the various slices do not grow in proportion. We’re not
characters in one of those lumbering, interminable, nonsensical Ayn Rand novels. We believe in
individual initiative and the free market, but we also believe that nationhood necessarily involves
a commitment to our fellow citizens, an acknowledgment that we’re engaged in a common
enterprise. We believe that opportunity should be more than just an empty word.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/ ... story.html