Rising Tide

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The rising tide lifts all boats.
A rising tide lifts all the boats. And a partnership, by definition, serves both partners, without domination or unfair advantage. Together we have been partners in adversity. Let us also be partners in prosperity. —John F. Kennedy, Frankfurt, Germany, June 25, 1963

For decades, medical science has studied many aspects of the quality of life, such as lifespan, infant mortality, crime, obesity, and educational attainment just to name a few. The correlations between those aspects and environmental, behavioral, and genetic factors have also been of great interest to medical science. Epidemiologists are unique among health professionals in that they use powerful statistical techniques and careful research to distinguish actual causes from the mere correlations that become apparent.

Perhaps because of the rigor necessary in their science, it has only been in the past decade that epidemiologists began considering how factors from economics affect the quality of human life. Economics is often called the dismal science for good reason: controlled experiments in this most social or "soft" science are often impossible. For whatever reason, it was not until the publication in 2009 of the book The Spirit Level that epidemiologists carefully consolidated the documentation of the fact which had become unquestionably apparent in their peer reviewed scholarly literature: One economic factor, income equality, was a major—if not the foremost—cause of more than twenty separate concrete measures of human quality of life.

This revelation took place in the midst of one of the most substantial economic downturns in the previous centuries, after decades of increasing income inequality. The rich have been getting richer, the poor have been getting poorer, and the middle class has been getting smaller. But there is a new lining on the dark grey cloud, probably due in part to the very causations which had just been uncovered: the rich are only getting richer on paper. The actual value of the nominally greater wealth controlled by the upper 1% of income earners has, for perhaps the first time ever, been getting smaller. Eleven years ago, consumers represented two thirds of the economy, and the value of assets was increasing rapidly. Today, consumer spending is much closer to half of the GDP, and all classes of asset prices are growing so slowly that the outlook for the nominally ultra rich is much bleaker than it was when consumers were so much stronger.

Have we reached a turning point? Is this the beginning of the end of the class war? Will the ultra rich and corporations, who have won Supreme Court victories placing them firmly in control of the political process, now begin acting in their interest by instituting measures to correct our grossly deleterious income inequality, increasing the tangible value of their assets' appreciation by decreasing the proportion of their nominal wealth?

Will we as a society reach across the boundaries of class and political party to lift all boats, or will we all sink together?

External links (to be incorporated in line)[edit | edit source]

Completion status: this resource is ~50% complete.

This is currently a work in progress started October 2010, and should explore these ideas in greater detail. I hope that the length, while incorporating as many of the ideas in the links below in the abstract, will not exceed that of a short pamphlet and will be useful as such. Feedback is most welcome on the "Discuss" page available from the tab above, and any improvements are even more welcome.