$2,000 for an Apartment or a Pair of Shoes?

An article published today has struck me with its shocking illustration of what is going wrong in America. As we struggle to recover from a crippling recession, with jobless rates remaining stubbornly high, and income stagnating or declining for average Americans, this article appeared in the New York Times.

So I have learned today that the wealthiest Americans continue to make so much money that there is a waiting list for a $9,000 coat, and luxury retailers are hiking up prices on shoes over $1,000 because they will continue to sell whether the price is $1,000 or $2,000.

And yet there are roughly 38,000 men, women, and children sleeping in New York City shelters who cannot afford to rent an apartment that costs less than one pair of shoes at Saks Fifth Avenue. Moreover, just a few days ago, as part of a deal to increase the debt ceiling, Congress approved massive spending cuts to vital government programs while ignoring the possibility of tax increases for America’s top earners. Which brings me to a blog also published today by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities…

As part of the debt ceiling deal, Congress created a “supercommittee” that will recommend more deficit-reduction measures. CBPP’s blog explains why it is a necessity that they consider revenue options, even though Republicans continue to vehemently oppose even a return to past tax rates. Aside from basic fairness and morality, they show that the Bush tax cuts have been a significant contributor to our national deficit. And while average tax rates for the wealthiest have gone down significantly, incomes for these households have skyrocketed. And perhaps most importantly, without any new tax revenues, vital government programs that assist the poor, elderly, disabled, children, and other members of our society will face crippling cuts.

While the first article paints a grim picture of the direction of our society and with it, our humanity, CPBB’s blog is a plea for sanity. We cannot afford a society where tens of thousands of people go homeless and the wealthiest Americans get a tax break to buy $1,650 face cream.