For decades, there has been a widening gap between the rich and poor in the United States. Economists argue that wealth is not finite. That a tiny percentage of people own most wealth does not mean, they explain, that other creative, hard-working people cannot find a new spring of wealth.
But most people do not make an income through invention or unique strategies. They earn their living through jobs that have been prepared for by going to school and earning degrees or certificates. Not everyone will design an internet baby that goes viral like Facebook or Twitter.
Many Americans are more trained to earn their incomes than their parents or grandparents were. Nonetheless, their incomes are far lower, in relation to the wealthy of our time, than the incomes of their forebears were in relation to the wealthy in the 20th century. The 20th century had a healthy middle class, and many of us grew up in more luxury than we live in now.
The exorbitantly wealthy of our time have benefited from technology, which has provided new sources of income. Meanwhile, private and public institutions have found new sources of cheap labor, also provided, in many cases, by technology. Ease of communication has allowed us to take advantage of each other and turn a profit. Cheap labor mushrooms. No sooner do we ban it in one place than it grows in another.
There are two ways to react to this new world of inequality: by analytical strategy, in an effort to create more egalitarianism–the Sanders/socialist method, most typically embraced by the educated, or through blame, by getting angry.
Anger works for a lot of people. Human beings love a scapegoat, and they adore more than one. The incredible irony of Trump’s rise to the popular front is not only through his unerring ability to blame, insult and threaten every single group that has struggled for rights (“minorities” over which white male Americans once enjoyed social superiority) but he is also part of the problem that has led to the wide gap of wealth. He is in the right place at the right time–for himself.