Inequality supported by power structure [Letter]

The root cause for inequality, especially concerning health and economic advancement, stems from the tendency among a subset of humans who patronize only those individuals who are subservient to them ("Inequality is the new norm in the U.S.," Jan. 15). From that viewpoint, I credit the majority of people of the United States for bending over backward to get ahead in life without knowingly hurting others or looking the other away when confronted with injustice.

If there is a change to be made, society must understand the factors that modulate new ideas. In prevailing conditions, a businesses is not allowed to gain traction without letting someone who is part of the power structure to be in the front seat. I characterize a person who belongs to the power structure as one who demands unrequited obsequiousness and expects a person to be groveling for collaboration. When I was younger, I had no problems with such situations since I was still learning, but at 45, if I am subjected to that sort of relationship, I would rather stay poor than enjoy the privileges that advanced education and experience have afforded me so far.

Consider my circumstances. I came up with an idea for a social networking application last year that allows an individual to interconnect with another without first needing to go to a broker (existing social media networks). I term this a self-brokered method of networking with others. During the course of developing this idea, I came across individuals with strong expertise in marketing and business development who expressed substantial interest. But over time, these individuals eventually deferred their individual judgment to somebody who is part of the power structure.

That tendency to voluntarily take a back seat shows a trend of being intimidated to submissiveness. Eventually, it turned out that without this representative from the power structure, my business was a non-starter. When a self-directed person needs to be subservient to the power structure to meet certain personal or family needs, he or she makes a compromise — as I have in the past. But that compromise inevitably results in being burdened with a "give an inch, take a mile" mindset. Serving in the National Guard, I have had the opportunity to speak with a number of people on this subject and I have found that I am not alone. This is unsustainable for the good of society in general. No wonder the rich are getting richer as they are being propped up by the power structure.

In his book, "The Vested Interests and the Common Man," Thorstein Veblen writes that a "generation of public spirited men (alluding to contemporaries of Adam Smith) went, perforce, on the scant data afforded by their own historical present, the economic situation as they saw it in the perspective and with the preconceptions of their own time; and to them it was accordingly plain that when all unreasonable restrictions are taken away, "the obvious and simple system of natural liberty establishes itself of its own accord." To this "natural" plan of free workmanship and free trade all restraint or retardation by collusion among business men was wholly obnoxious and all collusive control of industry or of the market was accordingly execrated as unnatural and subversive."

"It is true," the author continues, "there were even then some appreciable beginnings of coercion and retardation — lowering of wages and limitation of output — by collusion between owners and employers who should by nature have been competitive producers of an unrestrained output of goods and services according to the principles of Adam Smith and his generation."

Suresh Kalkunte

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