I do agree if conditions end up laissez-faire crony capitalism, that is precisely what will happen. We have a battle right now between large corporations and large governments to see who will dominate the 21st century.
That's the role of government. And this has to be done, or else you may not like the alternatives- which is a group of people who will have no respect for society, for valid and justified reasons.
You said this before and I asked: how. What can government do?
The increasing gap between rich and poor has very little to do with government and a lot more to do with automation and globalization.
In 1950, if I wanted to run a business, everything had to be done by humans and local humans at that.
In 2020, if I want to run a business, I can automate significant parts of it and contract labor intensive parts to the lowest bidder on earth.
Let me use a common example: Your local grocery store.
Even in 2012, you are seeing more and more self-checkout lines. The goods on the shelves are increasingly being made overseas.
If I own that grocery store, with a modest capital investment, I can have extremely high margins. But what happens to all those people who used to make the goods and used to work there? By 2020, most of the cleaning will be done by bots of various kinds. I'd be surprised if shelving wasn't increasingly handled by bots (RFID would make placement relatively easy and inexpensive).
What can the government do about that? Tax people higher? Ok. Then what? When we talk about rich and poor we don't factor in government hand outs. We always compare pre-tax earnings of the rich and poor and that will continue to rise. And even if we raised taxes, how does that help the poor? Give them more hand outs? That won't solve anything. In fact, it'll be businesses lobbying for that kind of thing (of course, done selectively) to get more buyers for their wares (while lobbying to keep their special tax breaks in place).
Even the poor understand economic interest- and when they have no reason to invest or believe in the system, they will work to destroy it.
What, exactly, are they going to destroy? The problem isn't that they're being cheated or screwed, it's that there is simply - at this time in history - the ability for some people to make a lot of money through capital investment that does not directly benefit other people. We haven't seen anything like it since the beginning of the industrial revolution.
I'm not saying we're going to have that in the US anytime soon, but we did have Occupy protests last year, those were economic.
That is true. But they're definitely not your avatars for the poor. Those were people looking for hand outs. They can only exist in a society in which the majority is highly...highly tolerant. Their complaint was that banks got bailouts -- where was their bail out?
The thing that makes it worse, is that we've got a bit of a global race to the bottom, due to billionaires being able to shop between countries for the "best deals" on their wealth.
And not just billionaires. Everytime you or I buy something made in China, we've outsourced. But you hit the nail on the head: We're in a global race to the bottom. That is the problem. And there's nothing we can do about it.
When I say I worry about these things- that does not mean that I oppose all capitalism, or even multinational capitalism. It means that I oppose the ability of power of large multinational corps to influence the government.
It's not government influence that causes our issues. It's way..way worse than that. If it were government influence, we could fix it by some sort of political reform. But there's no reform to fix what is occurring and, I might add, accelerating.
In 50 years, we'll look back at this time as a historic moment when you the haves -- the people with capital -- could essentially make their wealth while bypassing the have-nots. It's a serious problem, one in which the government is not equipped to handle unless we roll back globalization and automation.
It's not a liberal or conservative issue. The gap is widening because of unprecedented changes in our society. There is nothing a Democrat or Republican can do about it.