Wealth inequality in the United States is high and has increased sharply in recent decades. This increase—alongside a parallel increase in income inequality—has spurred increased attention to the implications of inequality for living standards and increased interest in policy instruments that can combat inequality.
Taxes on wealth are a natural policy instrument to address wealth inequality and could raise substantial revenue while shoring up structural weaknesses in the current income tax system. This issue could and should be a key issue in the upcoming presidential race.
The issue, however, is not clearly understood by most Americans. The following videos illustrate this. Hopefully, more of us will come to appreciate this problem and work to address it in 2020.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has become the lightning rod of conservative talk shows after introducing a Green New Deal resolution to Congress. The concept is not new. Thomas Freidman coined the idea of a Green New Deal in his book, Hot, Flat, and Crowded in 2007 and British economist Richard Murphy founded the Green New Deal Group the same year. Yet, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s resolution has been met with overwhelming skepticism and mockery from the right.
The Green New Deal that Ocasio-Cortez has submitted to Congress can be download on this link and recommends action in three basic areas:
The plan must decarbonize the economy. The young people who will have to live with the effects of climate change want a plan that begins with what is necessary rather than what is deemed politically possible.
The plan must include a jobs guarantee by the federal government and large-scale public investments. Again, the GND is not just climate policy. It’s about transforming the economy, lifting the up the poor and middle class, and creating a more muscular, active public sector.
The plan must make sure it includes protections for those hardest hit by historical discrimination and those set to suffer most from the effects of climate change — in Ocasio-Cortez’s document, “low-income communities, communities of color, indigenous communities, [and] the front-line communities most affected by climate change, pollution, and other environmental harm.”
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez admits the plan is ambitious as it includes a 10-year commitment to convert “100 percent of the power demand in the United States” to “clean, renewable and zero-emission energy sources,” to upgrade “all existing buildings” to meet energy efficiency requirements, and to expand high-speed rail so broadly that most air travel would be rendered obsolete. “We do not have a choice,” says Ocasio-Cortez. “We have to get to one hundred percent renewable energy in ten years. There is no other option.“
The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication sent out a survey to 966 registered voters between Nov. 28 and Dec. 11, 2018, and 81% of voters support a Green New Deal. “Given that most Americans have strong support for the components and ideas of the Green New Deal, it becomes a communication strategy problem,” says Abel Gustafson, who co-authored the survey findings. “From here, it’s about how you can pitch it so you can maintain that bipartisan support throughout the rest of the process.“
81% OF VOTERS SUPPORT A GREEN NEW DEAL
Addressing the issue of climate change is being championed by a fifteen year old Swedish climate activist, Greta Thunberg who addressed delegates at the UN sponsored COP24.
click on the video below to view Greta Thunberg’s speech
“Since our leaders are behaving like children, we will have to take the responsibility they should have taken long ago. We have not come here to beg the world leaders to care for our future. They have ignored us in the past and they will ignore us again. We have come here to let them know that change is coming whether they like it or not.“
The basis of public discourse comes to us from Ancient Greece. Aristotle called it “the faculty of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion.” Aristotle identified three elements to appeal to audiences:
logos (λόγος) – the use of reasoning, either inductive or deductive, to construct an argument.
pathos (πάθος) – the use of emotional appeals to alter the audience’s judgment through metaphor, amplification, storytelling, or presenting the topic in a way that evokes strong emotions in the audience.
ethos (ἦθος) – Aristotle’s theory of character and how the character and credibility of a speaker can influence an audience to consider him/her to be believable— there being three qualities that contribute to a credible ethos: perceived intelligence, virtuous character, and goodwill.
Throughout history, rhetoric has been taught and studied as the basis of communication and its principles shape how writing is taught in universities throughout the world.
Now, more than ever, the art of rhetoric is needed to shape our nation’s civil discourse as the art of persuasion has been reduced to Tweeting. Adam Gopnik of The New Yorker writes, “Democracy runs on many things—power, money, political parties—but the power of persuasion is essential to it, and, when persuasion becomes poisoned, the rest gets poisoned, too.”
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