My Worst Fears

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         A letter to the editor I wrote to the Albany Times Union, published on November 23, 2010, reflected the fears I was feeling about the demise of America that I knew was in progress.  The truth scared me then, but since Skip and I decided to start blogging, with all that I have learned and concluded since the December tax deal and the awful events now unfolding in midwestern states and in Washington, my fears have only worsened.  Here is my letter, as captioned by the Times Union:

Coming soon: third-rate nation

          As the gap between the wealthiest and the poorest in America continues to grow, wealth is increasingly concentrated at the top.  In 2007, the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans earned 23% of all income (“After-Shock,” Robert Reich).

          According to various studies (for example, Barry Rithholtz and G. William Donhoff, reported at, the wealthiest 1 percent currently holds 43 percent of financial wealth, while the bottom 80 percent holds only 7 percent of the wealth.  The bottom 40 percent has virtually no net worth at all.

          These increasingly extreme levels of income and wealth inequality make prosperity unsustainable.  Wall Street has turned the economy into a giant Ponzi scheme, and as the national debt skyrockets, the wealthiest Americans insist on a tax cut to reward themselves with yet another $700 billion over the next 10 years.

          Continuing these trends will make another depression inevitable, and this time Keynesian stimulus policies won’t work as well as during the Great Depression, because stimulus money is being substantially invested overseas. 

         Just as Wall Street reform and the correction of wealth inequality have become crucial to America’s survival, however, irritated voters are returning government power to the agents of the wealthy, the Republicans, who are dead set against both.

         As in the case of global warming, extravagant and costly warfare, and social and educational decline, America won’t wake up to all the harm it is doing to itself until it is too late.  Watch as the United States becomes a third-rate nation.

J. Michael Harrison


JMH – 4/4/11

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