I've been reading the phenominal book Capital in the Twenty-First Century. It's one of those rare reads that really lays bare a topic, piles hundreds of years of research into the mix, and unfortunately leaves the reader with a cold reality that they might not want to know.
A fundamental tenant is that the rate of return on capital always grows faster than wage increases. It's a documentable and research backed argument that makes clear the case that so many of us have been wrapping our heads around: the rich get richer, and actually the poor get richer too, but not at the same pace. Or said otherwise, the gap between those who make a return on capital is ever widening over those who earn wages.
For millions of people, “wealth” amounts to little more than a few weeks’ wages in a checking account or low-interest savings account, a car, and a few pieces of furniture. The inescapable reality is this: wealth is so concentrated that a large segment of society is virtually unaware of its existence, so that some people imagine that it belongs to surreal or mysterious entities. That is why it is so essential to study capital and its distribution in a methodical, systematic way.
Trust me: I like money as much as the next guy, and probably more. But even if you'd like to entertain the idea of pulling one's self up via the proverbial bootstraps, arguing ideology against data typically has results on par with chieftans claiming magic shields that will stop bullets. In short, you argue against reality to your detrement.
Capital in the Twenty-First Century is alreadying being regarded as a seminal work, and has ushered forth a new dialogue. One in which we're not foolish enough to adhere to laissez faire capitalism nor find solace in Marxism, but instead are forced to confront the data and trends that our decisions have brought to us.
We should be beyond arguing ideology, or at least entertain reality as much as we do our political fetishes.