Forget About the Rich

So the rich keep getting richer. What else is new? And the rest of us…? Well, for the most part we keep treading water––that is if we’re fortunate enough to hold onto our jobs.

What should we do, or can we do, about the fact that some CEOs now “earn” as much as 350 times more than their worker bees? My answer is nothing at all! I could be wrong, of course, but I think the playing field for at least the foreseeable future is going to remain heavily tilted in favor of the rich.

Our plight is not nearly as grim, however, as many might think. Especially if we concentrate on what we can do to make our own lives better, as well as the lives of millions of others. Forget about the rich, it’s no wonder they can’t relate to us.

Let’s begin by supporting our businesses that offer their employees decent pay and benefits. For example, shop at places like Costco and Whole Foods that always rate high on lists of the best companies to work for. Be willing to pay a little more if you can at good local businesses that can’t always match prices at big box stores that pay low wages.  

If you’re an investor, invest in companies that treat their employees well. Let your wallet do your talking.You’ve heard it many times before and it’s true, money isn’t everything. There are plenty of hard-working Americans worthy of your support. If most of us who are able to pay fair prices would do so, instead of simply shopping for the best bargains, we could help raise up the middle class. 

We could also save more of the slightly higher costs we’d pay for supporting responsible businesses by reining in our over-the-top spending for stuff we don’t need. Do we really need tv sets with 80-inch screens and powerful cars that can go 150 miles per hour? Do they make us happier? Is it possible to be satisfied with what we have? Or should we keep killing ourselves by working too hard?  How much is enough?   

How about spending less time on our iPhones and more time helping our kids with their homework. Many so-called experts believe that increasing society’s investment in education can greatly raise the quality of the middle class. If only we could improve the college graduation rate. 

We could also earmark more aid for people who can’t afford college but are still motivated to study and work hard for a better life. Some small schools within large high schools have already been established for students taking both academic and technical coursework to gain in-demand work skills. Some local employers have partnered with these programs to provide practical work experience while students are still in school. 

America has always been a nation of immigrants, the world’s melting pot. Passing our newly proposed immigration laws could serve to improve our overall standard of living. Since many companies acknowledge a gap between demand for and supply of highly skilled people, an influx of already accomplished immigrants could be especially beneficial. 

Yes, we really need to stop whining about the rich gobbling up too much of our pie. That’s old thinking, and counter-productive. Instead, we should use our innate smarts and available resources to thoughtfully re-create a vibrant American middle class for ourselves and those who follow us.

 

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