Constitution Day speaker addresses fiscal inequality
On Sept. 17, Constitution Day was celebrated nationally and locally. The date is set for remembering and honoring one of the most important founding documents in the country’s history.
Shepherd University has established a tradition of hosting a lecture on the famous document itself every Constitution Day, beginning in 2005 and named after the late Tom E. Moses, a local resident and longtime civil liberties activist.
On Sept. 14, speaker Ganesh Sitaraman, author of “The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution: Why Economic Inequality Threatens Our Republic,” and senior counsel to Senator Elizabeth Warren, took the stage of Robert C. Byrd Auditorium and tackled the challenging and controversial debate of how our original Constitution contributed to income inequality in America.
Sitaraman’s lecture began with a look at the history of the Constitution and of American economy, noting that, unlike the European parliaments of the time, our Constitution did not have a built-in counter balance for the wealthy and the poor. The reasoning behind this, Sitaraman said, is that in the newly formed America, the disparity between the rich and poor was far smaller than in European counter parts. However, as time progressed, Sitaraman said.
The major problem, as pointed out by Sitaraman, is if a society becomes too economically divided, it will fight itself. Often unequaled societies are condemned to become an oligarchy or dictatorship through rebellion or politics, unless precautions are taken by those in power. This is a situation some of our forefathers did not feel was pertinent at the time, he mentioned.
Sitaraman did point out directions the government took when the economic inequality had been a large factor in the past, such as changes to tax and anti-trust laws to curb the power of the robber barons of the 1890s. He also pointed out that in current times, such measures may be necessary to preserve the country’s form of government.