With the gap between rich and poor Americans exploding—and hardly anyone talking about it—what Washington needs is a “genuine populist,” writes David R. Francis in the Christian Science Monitor. Some quick facts: The wealthiest 1% “took 23.5% of the nation’s income in 2007,” far more than the 8.9% they took in 1976; and between 1979 and 2008, the incomes of the richest 5% soared 73%, while the poorest fifth watched incomes fall 4.1%.
Meanwhile, CEOs of the top US companies are paid some 300 times more than their lowest-paid workers; in the 1960s, they were paid just 30 times more. Indeed, the distribution of wealth is more lopsided than that of Egypt, a division that inspired a revolution. And the media here, like the state-controlled media there, hasn’t made much of the gap. We need a populist who can capitalize on the notion of fairness, not envy, “despite inevitable false charges of socialism.” Let’s “make it politically embarrassing” for conservatives “to continue coddling the rich.”