Nov 282010
Authors: Samuel Lustgarten

My ancestors were Europeans. They immigrated to the United States, humbled by their lack of English fluency, money and community. They believed and lived in a meritocracy that honored their backbreaking work. Some were musicians, others were laborers, but they shared one thing: an ability to make dreams a reality. The mobility and possibility for affluence led to a new frontier. It foreshadowed a rich future for generations to come.

Flash forward and I’m left dumbfounded by the evolution of an insular network that hails nepotism above merit. My grandparents painstakingly crafted their lives in this prosperous country, and they succeeded and found purpose. If they were alive, they wouldn’t recognize this hyperbolic environment.

The privileged hold a contemptuous perspective of disadvantaged, lower-income families. To these heartless, rapacious elites, the poor leech upon society. Charity amongst aristocracy has never been lower as a percentage of income, even allowing for federal entitlement programs. Their incomes and relative wealth keep escalating.

The stratification of our economy has produced wholesale subsistence-living to those born in our rigid caste. Poverty, social mobility, education and a variety of commonly indexed UN development numbers have shown the slide. Taxation to provide for the less fortunate and a fundamental regard for the country as a whole –– true patriotism –– has been subverted by a selfish mass.

In the latest recession, the pounded, devolving middle-class was hurt most. They bailed out Wall Street and witnessed the evanescence of vast swaths of retirement accounts. The juxtaposition doesn’t make sense –– nor should it.

This dimwitted action by the government led to full-scale skepticism. We’ve turned on our leaders.

The irony hardly escapes me. We love our Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, military and other services. But newly-elected politicians propagated a message about necessary spending cuts. Now, when pressed, they’ve failed to provide solutions and specific goals.

None of these entitlements will be touched; let me assure you, this chicanery that represents the political partisanship of today’s idiotic election season will lead to broken promises and undelivered bills.

Our system’s regulation and power can lead to a safer place. Every time the affluent have fought to bite back at this supervision, the masses have lost. The Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) was intended to protect us from Wall Street’s fat cat corruption. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was intended to protect us from sickening food practices with eggs. But their powerless, bureaucratic divide led to a deafening ineptitude.

The electorate has been tricked by ruling elites. These stalwart oligarchs have bred a familial tribalism that is now rooted within America’s borders. Compared to the socialist economic policy of the Scandinavian region, we have less social mobility. Our stereotypically free country is segregated once more. Rather than race, this new divisiveness has been transplanted into our income divide.

We’re supposed to be the most fortunate, well-educated place in the world. We must be humbled and realize the risk of being perpetually second-rate. Every statistic points to a continued slide. The problem isn’t socialism –– it’s thoughtless free market capitalism.

Economists and politicians from all parties have heralded the free market … with restrictions. Subsidies, tariffs, embargoes and realpolitik paint a different picture: a prison.

This inverted prison attacks the unrepresented, minorities and unprivileged. The guards –– the upper class –– see to the imprisonment worldwide. Our falsetto of equality pillages the land of less fortunate –– internally and externally.

We are disenfranchised and our leaders haven’t held their end of the bargain: to protect and defend. Unfortunately, the irrational opportunistic Tea Party rose to power. And with it, the rich, right-wing, conservative party smirked its way into office.

My grandparents were proud compatriots in defense of America. They made an American dream that we lust for incessantly. And yet, if they immigrated today, they would’ve stayed peasants –– criticized for not speaking English and merely pulling up their bootstraps. They would’ve died penniless, like many do now. Fortunately, they were afforded the right to a top-notch education, opportunities and living wages.

This country must redistribute the wealth that’s siphoned and sucked up by the money-grubbing elites. Crack that parsimonious, greedy pinata and let a bottom-up economic revolution occur.

Samuel Lustgarten is a senior psychology major. His column appears on Mondays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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