Low-cost labor drives our economy. When presidents Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Jackson, Tyler, Polk and Taylor gave their stamp of approval for slave labor, they set the stage for future labor problems. Our Founding Fathers created their fortunes on the backs of slave laborers. Slavery still casts a dark and ominous shadow across our nation in the form of voter discrimination and in attacks on our black president.

Recently, our unelected U.S. Supreme Court, in two of its decisions, seriously weakened our democracy. The Supreme Court ruled: Money is speech.

Therefore, billionaires can spend unlimited money to elect or defeat a candidate in any of the 50 states. Also, the Supreme Court recently ruled to gut the Voting Rights Act of 1964, further weakening our democracy. When Congress negates the wishes of 90 percent of the voters who want background checks for gun owners, and negates the wishes of 75 percent of the voters who want to increase the minimum wage, it means that the wealthy are driving the policy.

Money is power and power corrupts. This is carried out daily in the marriage of Congress with big corporations.

Members of Congress prostitute themselves, enacting legislation such as tax cuts for the rich, tax loopholes, oil subsidies, or failing to pass a minimum wage, to appropriate money for food stamps, Head Start, school lunches, meals for seniors and unemployment compensation.

While some of the wealthy ship jobs overseas, others ship their money to overseas banks to avoid taxes. Cause of income inequality?

The rich are grossly overpaid, and the poor are grossly underpaid. The rich attack the unions and promote the right-to-work law, which means, a worker can undercut his neighbor. The bitter irony is the rich need and use the poor to amass their fortunes. Instead of a democracy, we have an oligarchy, like Russia, where billionaires rule the country.

Coleman P. Gorham

Portland