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9/9 Persons Of Mean and Vile Condition

“Through all that growth, the upper class was getting most of the benefits and monopolized political power. A historian who studied Boston tax lists in 1687 and 1771 found that in 1687 there were, out of a population of six thousand, about one thousand property owners. and that the top 5 percent- 1 percent of the population- consisted of fifty who rich individuals who had 25 percent of the wealth. By 1770, the top 1 percent of property owners owned 44 percent of the wealth” p.49

“The 3 Richest Americans Hold More Wealth Than Bottom 50% of the Country, Study Finds” Forbes 2017

Throughout this chapter, it becomes clear that much of the racism present in America during the 1600 and 1700s ¬†spawned from white poverty/desperation that the upper class exploited as a means to guarantee their own wealth and power. The book clearly lays out evidence that racial hatred is not a naturally occurring phenomenon in humans so it must be developed through life experience. All throughout history those who have the money have the influence and ability to shape society to whatever suits their needs best. At the time it was in the upper classes’ interest to prevent white poor Americans from teaming up with black slaves to remove them from power. The book also mentions how it was in rich people’s interest to create a barrier between their property and the indigenous people and their means of doing so was by placing less wealthy white people there to act as a barrier. I became angry reading the chapter at the thought of rich people throwing their money around to manipulate society to their gain in a way that destroys the livelihood of so many people. Not only did they dehumanize an entire population of people based solely on their race, manipulate politics/politicians to secure there place in society, and allow the whole lower section of society to starve and go cold in winter, but they then proceeded to hoodwink that entire underprivileged section of society into believing they could move up in society and were not at the bottom of the totem pole through the exploitation of black and indigenous people.

The reasons I include the Forbes quote above is that it is eerily similar to the quote from the book despite the fact that they are speaking about time periods well over 200 years apart. My anger carries over to modern day. This is a textbook example of historical fallout and demonstrates that it is easy to see the faults of societies of the past, but more difficult to recognize the significance of modern day issues. Rich exploitation of the lower class and politics permeates history and still exists in our current period. After all, Americans today still go hungry and freeze during the winter, despite the fact that there are also Americans(Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett) who have more wealth than they could ever possibly spend in one lifetime. One of the greatest moral flaws of our nation is that we allow for both of these social classes to exist in the name of capitalism. The majority of Americans do not seem to understand how little the system has changed over the years and how much they are being kept in the dark on these issues. The American Dream hoodwinks people into accepting the system with the belief that they could someday, through hard work, be apart of the exploiting group of society when it is highly unlikely. Even worse, the same minority groups of the past who paid the price for the economic gap, still suffer the consequences today. ¬†How do you think people will write about the modern economic disparity in 200 years? I personally don’t think it will be viewed in a high regard.

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  1. Zachary Andrews Zachary Andrews

    That is a very interesting point you bring up about people who have the most money now-a-days (Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett). In the next 200 years, I believe that the trend we have all seen in the past will continue itself. On the other hand, I’ve learned about the different Stages of Economic Development from my First Year Seminar. The path is as follows: The nation starts out with a primitive society, then progresses to a slavery based society, which then changes to feudalism, then capitalism, then socialism, and finally communism. Since we have taken about plus or minus 200 years to evolve from a slavery based society to a capitalist society, do you think that we will end up in a socialist/communist society in the upcoming 200 years (following the Stages of Economic Development Model)?

  2. Samuel Hussey Samuel Hussey

    The reasons you expressed in your post are why some politicians like Bernie Sanders believe that our current system of Capitalism is not necessarily the best system. How can we say our system is effective when so many people are falling short? In our economy, money is the driving force, and social needs come second. I really liked your connection to the wealth gap today and in revolutionary times to show that we still live in an elitist society where the few hold wealth and power over the many. The system has lead us to become one of the largest economies in the world, but does that make up for the lack of social equality in the US?

  3. Charley Blount Charley Blount

    I agree with your assessment of the problem. Sadly, I don’t really see a solution to wealth disparities in a capitalist economy. I also don’t see any alternatives to capitalism that would prove more effective. The exception to this would be some hybrid economies such as Denmark and Finland, but our history of slavery and racial division would make the implementation of socialist policies very difficult.

  4. Jeffrey Sprung Jeffrey Sprung

    I really like how you included the quote from Forbes as it crystallized the idea that still, to this day, the wealthy have the control over the rest of society.

  5. Sophia Picozzi Sophia Picozzi

    I also saw a connection between the small wealthy minority in colonial times and in the present day, and it is honestly scary once you realize how much money Jeff Bezos and other moguls really have. There is clearly a pattern and connection between these two time periods, yet we aren’t doing much about it as a society. Everyone continues to use Amazon because it caters to their specific needs, however it infringes on the liberties and lives of countless others. Why are we standing idly by while history repeats itself? When will enough be enough? Where is our current societies breaking point?

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