The Inequality of the Get Richer Quick Schemes of the 1%

trickle-downTaking Professor Barnum’s class American Inequalities while in the mosaic has enabled me to really trace the pattern of poverty in those affected most by policy backfires. The housing crisis of 2008 leading to the Great Recession hit those who lost their mortgages and went through foreclosures the most even though the housing bubble burst because of irresponsible lending by large banks. As Joseph Stiglitz, the economist who coined the term the “1% and 99%” writes “the irony is that in the crises that finance brings about, workers and small businesses bear the brunt of the costs” (Stiglitz 66). The 1% can play around with the system in order to eke out as much profit as possible despite the harm its actions might cause the rest of society.  The sad part is, the trickle-down effect is bogus. Increased profits for the 1% does not fuel the overall American economy because the richer one is, the smaller portion of their income they actually spend. Thus, those most defenseless against economic hardships are the ones most vulnerable to exploitation by the 1%.


This reminds me of my research on LDCs and their vulnerability to climate change despite the fact that they did little to cause the problem. LDCs have contributed next to nothing in GHG emissions causing global climate change. Still, they will be the ones worst hit. Developed countries have been emitting GHGs for over a century, causing global climate change and as a result, have become rich and powerful in the global governance arena. Meanwhile, LDCs have stayed behind and will also be the first, and worst, hit by droughts, sea level rise, and temperature changes due to climate change. The fact that LDCs often still rely on subsistence agrarian societies- a sector way too reliant on climate considering the upcoming roller coaster. While developed countries have been able to develop away from agrarian societies and on the way caused climate change, LDCs have been left behind with agrarian societies put at great risks in the face of climate change.

LDCs, like the most impoverished in the US, are the ones hit hardest by the development schemes of the rich, yet they feel none of the benefits. This reflects a greater trend in all of society, where those who are poor are the most disadvantaged. There is no way for the poor to “pick themselves up by their bootstraps” while the rich are constantly tying them down through their own schemes of exploitation. Only when this trend is changed will policies have a possibility of creating more equal successes for all.

Trash Talk in America

from U.S. EPA and
from U.S. EPA and

Tonight at Sociology Professor Barnum’s Soup and Bread discussion in Dickinson’s Treehouse: The Center for Sustainable Living, we covered a variety of issues, one of them being trash. In a consumer society where items are created to last no more than three years, trash has become a much bigger part of American society than most Americans realize. According to Forbes, the U.S. is responsible for producing ¼ of the world’s waste, meanwhile making up only 5% of the world’s population. That’s way too much trash, and too much trash too responsibly remove from society.

How did Americans become so unaware of their waste habits? After all, according to Edward Humes, author of Garbology, per capita waste levels have doubled in the U.S. since 1960. Think of the phrase “out of sight, out of mind”. Once an American puts the garbage out on the side of the curb each week, the trash is no longer their problem and they can move on to collecting waste for the next week. The rest of the world, however, is not so ignorant toward the U.S.’s trash problem. Just take the floating trash island in the Pacific- an “island” made of plastic debris deposited into the ocean which will never fully decompose.

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When there were no municipal waste programs (granted there were, however, major health problems), people were reminded constantly of their trash- by its smell and its appearance. With American’s desire for homes to look pristine and neat, trash could definitely get in the way of this. If American’s were forced to deal with their trash for more than seven days at a time, actions and attitudes might be different. Disposable toothbrushes, Brillo Pads, and excessive paper handouts would feel more threatening once they needed to be stored for more than a week, making them no longer out of sight and so hopefully no longer out of mine. With a more “in your face” approach to America’s trash, the disgusting and greedy extent of its waste products could possibly decrease.


A good link to check out: