The highly controversial multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein died on Saturday by suicide in a Manhattan jail. His death, confirmed by the US Department of Justice, has raised many concerns.
Epstein was a well-connected financier who managed the assets of clients from the US upper class, moving among elites including incumbent US President Donald Trump and former US president Bill Clinton. But having been embroiled in sex scandals for years, he was arrested on July 6 for alleged sex trafficking of underage girls and faced a 45-year maximum sentence if convicted.
There was no shortage of suspicions about Epstein’s case due to his inextricable link with political figures. But his suicide has triggered further online discussion inside the US. Several hashtags relevant to the case, including #EpsteinSuicide, #ClintonCrimeFamily, #TrumpBodyCount and even #EpsteinMurder have been trending on Twitter and have driven people to reflect on the political system of the United States of America.
US civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson once said in a Ted Talk,”We have a system of justice in this country that treats you much better if you are rich and guilty than if you are poor and innocent… Wealth, not culpability, shapes outcomes.”
Epstein’s case, involving massive capital and many celebrities, is a perfect example demonstrating how capital permeates the US system and affects governing parties’ policies. It has thus reminded US people of their system’s defect, ignited people’s dissatisfaction with the huge wealth gap long existing in the US and increased their concerns over the capital’s impact on the system.
According to the latest OECD data, the US Gini coefficient – an index measuring inequality where 0 is perfectly equal and 1 is perfectly unequal – is about 0.39, or 32nd among all 35 OECD economies. In 2017, Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, issued a report saying that the Trump administration’s policies would make the US the “world champion of extreme inequality.”
The US has developed dramatically thanks to such a system controlled by capital groups. But things are seemingly getting out of control. The widening gap between the rich and the poor is dividing the country and sharpening social contradictions.
But even if people realized this fact, what can they do? They can only oppose one administration and turn to another party backed by another capital group. The country has no alternative but to solve the problems with the existing system caused by the system itself – a vicious circle.
Just as Ryan Saavedra, a reporter at The Daily Wire, tweeted on Sunday, “Many of the people who are convinced there was a full-blown government conspiracy in Jeffrey Epstein’s suicide are the same people who think the government can be trusted to own all the guns.”
Since the financial crisis in 2008, people have gradually seen the country’s problems and hoped to solve them through institutional reforms. But no reform has worked, and existing problems have become increasingly serious as the problems are rooted deeply in its system. The US rose due to capital power, but now it is declining for the same reason.
The US system was once a model that most developing countries were eager to learn, but it is now trapped in a vicious spiral and has made people lose hope. Mysteries hidden in Epstein’s case might have gone with his death, but people’s anger and discontent should be enough to make Washington reflect.
(In association with Global Times)