The Role Of The Wealthy And Politicians In Increasing Of Inequality
Bernie Sanders stated, “Income and wealth inequality have reached obscene levels… and the billionaire class is now allowed to spend unlimited amounts of money to buy the candidate they want. And it is up to us to stand up and fight back. If we stand together, there is no limit to what we can accomplish.” During the late 19th century the rights of the working class were not precedence in the eyes of wealthy business owners and government officials. Industrial workers were forced to encounter unsafe working conditions, multiple wage cuts, and long working hours by their employers. Therefore, these workers were inspired to start a labor movement, thus fighting for increased wages, practical working hours, safer working conditions, and opportunities for advancement. Since politicians received political donations from wealthy business owners, the labor movement was not as successful in their battle against the employers. The employers acquired protection from the government officials and the court system, which led to violence and creating social class inequality between the rich and poor.
Wealthy employers financially funding the politicians, in return received support from government officials in labor disputes encouraged their unsympathetic behavior. It was noted that, “Ironically, the 1883 Pendleton Civil Service Act freed political parties from financial dependence on their appointees (who had often provided kickbacks and contributions) only to place them at the mercy of businessman, who became the alternative source of funds”. In the past and today’s society, money has had a huge influence on political candidates and it shows clearly that wealthy business owners have more access to political affairs to suit their needs only, unlike the working class. For business owners, “Control became their watchword… control of the workers who toiled for them, and control of their political environment”. This tactic is often used by the wealthy to increase social class inequality between the rich and poor. In 2017 Senator Robert Menendez was on trial for receiving a bribe, allegedly using his authority to do favors for a doctor who was accused for overbilling Medicare in exchange for a more elaborate lifestyle. It shows clearly, “Businessmen saw politics as another means of boosting profits and consolidating their control of markets and workers”.
Determined to increase profits, employers resorted to using bribery in order to achieve cooperation from government officials, which allowed them to use any recourse to accomplish their purposes. This begs to question, “What did ‘democracy’ mean in a society with such vast inequalities of economic wealth and political power?”. Politicians plot to gain the trust of the working class by providing false hope of better working conditions; pretending to care about their concerns. Only to later on neglect those promises once they achieved the votes and gained their political aspirations. The same people who voted the politician into office are the very same working class who needed help in the midst of a crisis. Back then and even now, politicians have lost complete trust from the working class when they decided to side with the agenda of the wealthy.
Wealthy employers used their limitless power to break the solidarity of the workers with strong-armed tactics through use of violence. To the labor movement, “…it had become clear that no single group of workers… could stand against the power of the companies, their armed guards… and the armed forces of the government”. The Sherman Antitrust Act was originally intended to prevent companies from having a monopolistic competition. However, the courts used the Sherman Antitrust Act against the labor unions stating that there was a monopoly of workers hindering business operations. It was stated that, “Court decisions further weakened… federal laws regulating business… to curb labor unions by issuing injunctions… against strikers and their unions”.
The absence of enforced legislation and government regulations developed ruthless business owners, leaving the working nation without adequate rights or protection. This would lead many workers to believe that there is a strong connection between the employers and court officials.
Under paid workers faced the threat of no job security or a substantial livable income. When a worker died or suffered from an injury, as was a common occurrence at this time period, the worker’s family had no financial support to maintain their living standard. Today, employers seek flexibility in employment policies in respect to legislation and labor laws, by hiring part-time and temporary workers. This process puts less anxiety on salary and benefit plans intended to develop a long-term working liaison with employees. Workers are then kept in debt when cost of living is raised and wages are stagnant only to be trapped working the same low paying job. The part-time or temporary employee becomes reliant on government assistance such as: food stamps, housing assistance, healthcare, protection against discrimination, and other benefits. This clearly shows how the wealthy and government are working hand in hand to keep social inequality for those workers wanting a better quality of life.
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