TEHRAN – Alphonso Lingis, professor emeritus of philosophy at Pennsylvania State University, says wealth inequality in America is increasing and greater than its developed counterparts.

“Wealth inequalities are far greater in the United States than in any other developed country and they are increasing,” Lingis told The Tehran Times.

“One percent of the population of the United States owns 42.5% of the national wealth. Only three men – Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and investor Warren Buffett – hold combined fortunes worth more than the total wealth of the poorest half of Americans.

Since wealth means political power in the United States, the gap between tycoons and ordinary people reflects a flaw in the political system.

Critics say capitalism in the United States will marginalize democracy. The mass media play a key role in this regard.

“As wealth is increasingly focused on a smaller and smaller number of individuals and businesses, the potential political power of the wealthier is also increasing,” Lingis notes.

Meanwhile, “the middle white family has 10 times the wealth of the middle black family and 7.5 times the wealth of the middle Latino family.” This growing economic inequality is detrimental to the health, education, employment opportunities and landlord possibilities of a growing number of people in the country, ”adds the professor of philosophy.

Here is the text of the interview:

Q: How do you see the political fallout of Trump’s presidency in America and its impact on American democracy?

A: Lawyers for President Trump have identified 62 cases of alleged voter fraud in the 2020 election, which the courts have individually reviewed and dismissed.
Nonetheless, Trump continues to claim that massive voter fraud invalidated the election, a claim shared by more than half of Republican voters. This undermines public confidence in the essential institutions of democracy in the country.

Q: American officials claim to uphold democratic values, but apparently giant corporations, lobbies, and money have great influence on American democracy. Is American democracy pro-majority or just a tool in the hands of the elites?

A: As wealth is increasingly concentrated in an ever smaller number of individuals and businesses, the potential political power of the wealthier also increases. In 2020, candidates for Congress spent $ 8,703,050,547 on their campaigns. Individual candidates spent up to $ 270 million on a campaign.

Most of the money spent was donated by a small number of very wealthy individuals and corporations. One-fifth of the money spent on campaigns was donated by just 2,635 people. Their influence makes President Trump’s many actions against climate change control, environmental protection, and his massive tax cut for the rich difficult to reverse.

Q: What’s your comment on Republicans’ efforts to restrict voting rights in some states? Do you think the American establishment can protect democracy?

A: Since the 2020 election, nine Republican-dominated states have passed new laws that restrict access to the vote for the poorest people and minorities. Seventeen states have passed laws to expand voting access for their citizens. A national voting rights law is currently blocked by Republicans in Congress.

Q: Is there a correlation between defending democracy at home and supporting democracy abroad? Apparently, the United States has failed to achieve this foreign policy goal. America, for example, is a big sponsor of tyrannical regimes in the Persian Gulf.

A: President Trump openly admired authoritarian regimes, and leaders such as Bolsonaro in Brazil, Duterte in the Philippines, and Orban in Hungary have copied Trump’s rhetoric and domestic politics.

President Biden, addressing the United Nations General Assembly, said his government will exercise “relentless diplomacy” in support of democratic regimes. He called for international cooperation to fight the coronavirus pandemic, global climate change and cyber threats. He said the United States would double its financial commitment for climate assistance and spend $ 10 billion to fight hunger.

He also announced a donation of 1.1 billion doses of the Covid vaccine to poor countries, “for all the vaccines we have given to date in America, we have now committed to make three injections in the rest of the world” .

Q: Some critics like Bernie Sanders think capitalism can push America and its democracy down an abyss. What’s your comment ?

A: Wealth inequalities are far greater in the United States than in any other developed country, and they are increasing. One percent of the population of the United States owns 42.5% of the national wealth. Only three men – Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and investor Warren Buffett – hold combined fortunes worth more than the total wealth of the poorest half of Americans.

The middle white family has 10 times the wealth of the middle black family and 7.5 times the wealth of the middle Latino family. This growing economic inequality is damaging the health, education, employment opportunities and landlord opportunities of a growing number of people in the country.

In 2014, the Davos, Switzerland-based World Economic Forum released its “Global Risks 2014” report, listing income disparity first of the five most likely global risks, followed by extreme weather events, unemployment and sub -employment, climate change and cyber attacks. . Renowned economist Thomas Piketty and others have argued that growing economic inequality is also economically unsustainable.

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