Friday, December 14, 2012

Wages, Wealth Inequality, and Violence

As many of you well know, I like to write about issues revolving around wages.  Wages and access to resources are the root of most social problems.  You can even make that case in race relations and relations with other categories of minorities.  Today, 22 children and 8 adults were killed brutally by a gunman in Connecticut.

I would argue that people act outside the order of the laws and institutions when they are unable to gain access to resources that are necessary to meet basic needs.  That lack or difficulty of access can drive the stress levels of people to points where the stress becomes unmanageable   Feeling like they have no recourse to change their circumstances, people become reclusive, antisocial, and paranoid.  Also, these people feeling they cannot change their circumstances, their actions begin to manifest in more desperate and extreme ways. If people cannot meet their basic needs in the system in which they exist, they will step outside that system to meet those needs.  If they cannot step outside that system to meet their needs, they will lash out against the current system violently in an effort to create awareness and draw attention to their pain and suffering.

In the United States, wage inequality and wealth inequality are very high.  Much higher than the rest of the developed world such as Europe.  In Europe, wealth inequality and wage inequality is lower than here in the US.  Further, the crime rates in many European states are significantly lower as a result.  The safety net in this country is sorely lacking in its ability to catch people caught in circumstances beyond their control to prevent.  The severe uncertainty caused by the loosely regulated labor market, and loosely regulated wages have created a very stressful living environment for the every day American.  Where as in Europe, if a citizen in the 27-nation bloc leaves their job for whatever reason, their basic needs are taken care of and they are taken care of until they secure new employment.  And of course one of those biggies is their healthcare.

Violence in society is caused mostly by not being able to gain access to basic need resources.  Some of it is caused by people who are genuinely mentally disturbed, others who are psychotic, and others who are emotionally broken.  Some violence is calculated out of a need for power.

They key to reducing crime and reducing to increase access to resources through more jobs, higher wages, and a more stable social safety net to hold people up until they get on their feet.

As I was writing this, I was holding back tears.  Because I see and feel what these people do, and I know most of it is out of unmanageable stress, grief, and depression.  A richer working class is the only way to combat this kind of violent antisocial behavior.

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