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It’s one of the great ironies of the current debate in America that so many of the people who oppose the teaching of Darwinism as the definitive explanation of life on earth are only too happy to promote and practice a brutal, dog-eat-dog, survival-of-the-fittest brand of social Darwinism when it comes to organizing modern society.   

This morning, two news stories highlight the impact of America’s dramatic shift in this direction:

First, the New York Times reports that there has been a startling and very troubling decline in life expectancy for poorly educated American whites — especially white women. While researchers have identified no definitive cause, it’s almost impossible to imagine that the decline in jobs that were formerly available those unable to finish high school and the shredding of the social safety net that helped lift many into the middle class haven’t both played a role.

Meanwhile, at the top of the food chain, things are headed in the opposite direction. A new report from Forbes as relayed by Think Progress shows that the collective wealth of the 400 richest Americans totaled $1.7 trillion in 2011, a 13 percent jump from the year before, as the stock market reached its highest mark in a decade and real estate rebounded.

A lot of — maybe most — people have sort of a vague notion that the super wealthy are able squirrel away a lot of their wealth and income overseas so as to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. But, as this article reports, the size and scope of the practice has truly reached an astounding level.

“A new report by the Tax Justice Network released Sunday reveals that between $21 trillion and $31 trillion is currently tucked away in global tax havens by the global super-rich–an amount that far exceeds previous estimates. Through exploiting gaps in global tax rules, the global financial elite are managing to hide ‘as much as the American and Japanese GDPs put together’ from taxation, leaving the world’s poor to carry the burden of global debt through harsh austerity measures.”

In case you had any doubt that it helps a lot in modern American politics to be rich — I mean really rich — consider the case of two former candidates for President who have or will stand before banks of TV cameras in Greensboro, North Carolina this week.

One is a rich, dishonest and narcissistic adulterer with expensive hair. The other is…a rich, dishonest and narcissistic adulterer with expensive hair.

Here’s the big difference between the two (other than their politics — a place where one of the two has actually expressed concern for the less fortunate at times during his life): One guy is pretty rich and the other guy is REALLY rich.

Now, guess which one just missed going to jail by the skin of his teeth and which one will be treated like royality while serving as the keynote speaker of the North Carolina Republican Party convention.

See what I mean about the importance of being REALLY rich?