Before reading this article, please ask yourself the following question: How can we save the American Dream?
Many of my personal heroes and role models are super rich elites including: Bill Gates, Melinda French Gates, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Sergey Brin, Shari Arison, Warren Buffett, Larry Page, Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, Pia Getty, Athina Onassis, Oprah Winfrey, Anne Wojcicki, Lebron James, Kylie Jenner, and Susan Wojcicki.
Although I admire the innovation and ingenuity of these super-wealthy entrepreneurs, influencers, and investors, my heart and soul weep and cry out for the poorest of the poor who cannot afford the basics of survival. I am a combination of Mother Teresa’s dedication to the poor and Jeff Bezos’s almost magical creation of Amazon. My brain is rich, but my heart is poor.
To reduce socio-economic inequality and empower the powerless in America, we must bring an end to what I call ‘economic violence’.
There is something wrong with an economy where Wall Street earns billions of dollars while working people suffer in insecurity and poverty. In the United States, working class people are the victims of this pervasive ‘economic violence’ committed by powerful elites.
In the USA, the stock market hits record highs, but the job market hits record lows; job salaries are going down while corporate profits are rising. The rich get richer, while the poor get poorer.
In our society, Elon Musk and Space X are sending billionaires to outer space, yet the average American cannot afford to buy bread and water.
Poor Americans are the victims of extreme ‘economic violence’, yet poor Americans still represent the triumph of the human spirit over oppression and exploitation.
In the past, the United States was idealized as the ‘land of opportunity’ where all people can take part in the ‘American Dream’. However, income inequality has uprooted opportunities and destroyed financial dreams.
According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development there are approximately 553,000 homeless Americans on a given night—including 57,849 homeless veterans.
In 2015 the average income in the bottom 90% of the U.S. population was $34,074, while the average income in the top 10% was $312,536. Moreover, the income of the top 0.1% was $6, 747,439. The level of income inequality in America has risen to a level not seen since the Great Depression.
To solve these complex issues, I call for the creation of a new federal, state, and local organization to help poor Americans called ‘American NATO’ (National Alleviation of Total Oppression) which will invest in housing, education, programs to help farmers, complete student loan forgiveness, unemployed blue-collar workers, veterans, homeless people, and single mothers and single fathers. We must also invest in both rural and urban areas.
Progressive champions and empowerment visionaries such as congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders have called for solutions such as redistribution of wealth, quasi-socialized medicine, government provision for basic needs, universal basic income, higher minimum wage, improving economic growth in poor communities, and comprehensive federal empowerment of the poorest of the poor.
The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement would play an important role in ending ‘economic violence’ by focusing on economic inequality, interracial cooperation, and unfair socio-economic stratification. The passion and energy of BLM would infuse our movement with grassroots support and organizational infrastructure.
As we boldly strive to end ‘economic violence’, the world’s oldest democracy must have the prophetic vision and courage to reinvent the foundations of America. Each generation of Americans must define what it means to be American. Our current generation must rise up as a nation united across racial and ethnic lines to empower the weakest among us.
As former President Bill Clinton once stated:
“When our founders boldly declared America’s independence to the world and our purposes to the Almighty, they knew that America, to endure, would have to change. Not change for change’s sake, but change to preserve America’s ideals—life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Though we march to the music of our time, our mission is timeless.”
As an American who happens to be Jewish, I know our Jewish values compel our community to imbue the poorest among us with life, liberty, economic opportunity, education, and the path to happiness and personal fulfillment.
We—the world Jewish community—should create a new initiative of empowerment called ‘Shabbat of Equal Opportunity’ which will invest in poor communities while establishing new job creating economic incubators for impoverished entrepreneurs. This new initiative would be a public-private partnership between federal and state governments, Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, and high-tech companies such as Facebook, Google, Oracle, Dell, Microsoft, Apple, Twitter, and Intel.
To empower America, we must renew our democracy and revitalize the American Dream. We must offer opportunity to all, while demanding responsibility from all. As we rise to meet this socio-economic challenge, we must create new partnerships to bring an end to ‘economic violence’.
I look forward to meeting with elected officials, corporations, companies, firms, organizations, and religious institutions to transform this vision of creative compassion into reality-based solutions for our American society.
We must reform our society so that power and privilege no longer shout down the voices of the people. Let us give power back to the people to whom it belongs.
This article is part of the “Peace Prophet” series which is inspired by “Peace Pilgrim” (Mildred Lisette Norman) who was an American peace activist who passed away in 1981. Barack Obama Mandela—known as “Peace Prophet”—earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law with a specialization in International Law. He is a protégé of the late Professor Stefan A. Riesenfeld.