In the current conversations (there are a lot of them) about the separation between the classes in America, it is clear that greed and self-aggrandizement play major roles. We have watched the upper 1% members of the American economy pull away to the point that they now represent an income level which is soaring.
… the estimated wealth gap between upper-income and middle-income families has increased during the recovery. In 2010, the median wealth of upper-income families was 6.2 times the median wealth of middle-income families. By 2013, that wealth ratio grew to 6.6.” *
My understanding is that the increase has burgeoned into double figures in the year + since these figures.
And this this is just the gap between middle income and wealth. Imagine the difference between those in the poverty or barely employed class of Americans and the wealthy. Pew Research Center says that it is only the wealthy class that has shown increases in the past decade or more. If the lower income brackets have remained at their pathetic levels, the increase in the wealth gap is even more dramatic.
One of the words used to describe the rationale for the increases in the upper 1% of our economy is rapacious. It is a word that comes to us from the Latin word rapare, which means to seize. The implication of the root word is that wealth is accumulated at the expense of others. There is a sense of grasping, or even stealing in the definition.
In contemporary use in American English, the word rapacious is used as an adjective to describe the unending support for legislation, lack of control, or permission given to those who are already wealthy to constantly increase their holdings. Given the Citizens United decision of the U.S. Supreme Court, the plutocracy already in existence in the United States was given even more opportunity to influence elections and legislation to enhance the wealth of big business. Average citizens who support political candidates make miniscule impact on legislation when held up against the millions (even billions) afforded candidates by the wealthy for the protection of their wealth and the ability of their wealth to make a difference.
Rapacious behavior on behalf of many wealthy Americans ** is obscene, making one wonder about the moral and ethical nature of many prominent Americans. It is hard to believe that multi-millionaires and billionaires can drive through America’s cities and rural areas without guilt. There is no lack of reference to the growing gap between the wealthy and the poor in America in the media. Even within their own families, at times, the gap is unbelievable.
Finding ourselves in the midst of tax season, it is painful to realize how much of one’s income is designated for local, state, and national taxes on the part of average Americans, while those in the upper 1% are able to utilize tax breaks and schemes to minimize their contributions. The image of the owners of large corporations paying less to the IRS on an annual basis than their secretaries and housekeeping staff is not lost on the American people.
Illustration Credit: Classism.org
**It is important to realize that this is a generalization. There are wealthy Americans who are concerned about the wealth gap and are ready to use their money to stand up against the rapacious behavior of others.