By Robin Kash
Regarding the paean to the rich by Richard Riordan and Eli Broad (“It isn’t a sin to be rich,” Jan. 2 guest column): Perhaps you have struck a defining note for what readers may expect from The Gazette in the new year: defense of the rich. Paraded before readers are the same tired, cynical arguments so frequently enlisted to plump a tiny minority of self-assured people caught up in their own aggrandizement.
Riordan and Broad lament the plight of the jobless. Part of the problem with our current jobless recovery is that “the rich” are not investing in things that involve jobs. They’re too busy making money. Consider this year’s unprecedented run-up in the stock market … while unemployment continues to hover around 7 percent and unemployment benefits and SNAP are cut.
The penchant of the wealthy is for hedge funds rather than things that are productive.
The rich are charitable! They can afford it. Those of us who are being scrouged are surely not prone to argue. Charitable gift deductions are but a minor part of the immense public largesse showered upon the wealthy. That Mr. Riordan can, as noted in credit following the opinion piece, give half of his annual income to charity without jeopardizing his standing among the wealthy, or that Broad can put billions toward an array of causes without forfeiting membership in the billionaires’ club is more a confession of sin than a matter of virtue.
In a just society, such charity would scarcely be needed. Rather it would be scorned as a sign of profligate, inexcusable excess.
The absolutely few who are so crassly wealthy are far outnumbered by those whom Riordan and Broad so patronizingly acknowledge would benefit from raising the minimum wage. They observe that employment prospects correlate with educational attainment.
Deficiencies in education among those who are least employable are aggravated by elected officials seeking to curry favor with the wealthy and their corporate surrogates by diminishing support for public education. Public education is a foundation of our democracy but an obstacle to plutocracy.
Many of those who do gain a college degree are virtually indentured servants, saddled with unforgivable loans many will never be able to repay. Many graduates cannot get jobs commensurate with their education, if at all.
This column and your recent editorial in which was minimized the importance of raising the minimum wage serve as sour notes to The Gazette’s stated commitment to addressing issues of poverty. Both favor instead those who are at the apex of the very oppression that fosters and assures continued poverty.
Robin Kash of Cedar Rapids is a retired Presbyterian minister who operates Neighborhood Network News and was a city council candidate in November. Comments: email@example.com