Stories Below come from our Media Partner 3BL Media - Click their logo or any of the stories for more information
The Risk of Wealth and Income Gaps
The American Income and Wealth Gap
The issues and events represented in the broadening public discussions about “wealth and income disparities” or the “wealth divide” or the “1% and the 99%” are certainly top-of-mind for many people as we created this Hot Topic in October 2011. These are certainly not new issues, but for many Americans the Great Recession is intensifying some of the troubling aspects of income inequality and certainly the obvious wealth inequality in the USA today.
The essence of the American Dream has been about the assurance of equal access to quality education, the enjoyment of a good income (“living wages”), access to affordable healthcare, and the means to acquire a home of one’s own.
These have been the traditional pathways to building personal and family wealth at least since years of the Great Depression. In the “Era of Prosperity,” after World War II, the American middle class emerged in great numbers. Thanks to equal access to credit and capital, steadily increasing wage levels for workers, and reasonably-priced housing and durable goods, attaining higher levels of education, among other things, each generation could expect to be better off than the previous. Until now. What most Americans believed to be “financial fairness” for a rising middle class has been fading away since the financial sector crisis of 2008-2009, if not in reality, than in the perceptions of many people.
In contrast, the 1947 to 1975 years, as author Robert Reich points out in his book, “Aftershock,” was an era when the benefits of economic growth were more broadly shared. But since 1975, the economic gains have been steadily concentrated in the upper income and wealth regions of the US economy, and the middle-class and lower income earners have been missing out on the dividends paid by (among other things) the end of the Cold War and the onset of globalization that followed.
Unemployment is stuck at the 9% level; and, many Americans are under-employed, working two jobs, or out of work for so long that they have given up on finding a job. Which leads to more financial stress on millions of families.
As the former Secretary of Labor writes, “None of us can thrive in a nation divided between small number of people receiving an ever larger share of the nation’s income and wealth and everyone else receiving a declining share…” We agree.
Real opportunity and access – and not that portrayed today by certain pandering politicos – has been slipping away for millions of Americans. The Capitol Hill rhetoric does not square with the facts on the ground -- the statistics and facts and consumer surveys paint a different picture, first in the facts, and more recently, in the perceptions held by many Americans.
Not About Wealth Re-Distribution
This reality of diminishing economic returns is not about income or wealth re-distribution, or pursuing socialist or left-leaning political ideologies or policies, or schemes to tax the rich. This is about both the reality and perception of financial fairness and equity, and equal access to economic opportunity, which many middle-class and low-to-moderate income earners now believe is no longer the American Dream for them. This is a potentially dangerous social condition and one that our policymakers – or the fortunate affluent and wealthy -- should not ignore.
As this introduction is prepared, the Occupy Wall Street protests are in their third month, with hundreds of other cities and communities seeing demonstrations on their main streets. The protests so far have been peaceful and civil if not raucous at times.
The movement has spread to other countries. Earlier in 2011, citizen protests were staged in the Middle East – in the Arab Spring, young and old protested against repressive government policies and the lack of economic opportunity for the masses in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Bahrain, and Syria. A major part of the complaints: lack of jobs, and lack of or unequal opportunity in terms of income and wealth-building, as well as the desire for more democratic rule.
There is now abundant news & commentary about the income and wealth divide in the United States, as well as a growing gap between rich and poor in many other countries. We are bringing you the highlights of this issue in this Hot Topic, because we believe that everyone should be tuned in to this critical social issue, which threatens the well-being of the nation, and individuals in all socio-economic categories. The solutions are not easy, or simple, or something government can prescribe. All Americans have to address the issues – and some of us will have to give a little to get back on track.
We cannot afford to lose the Millennial Generation (born 1975-2000) – the young people who seek the opportunities that their parents and grandparents enjoyed.
The editors have been focused on the issues surrounding the income and wealth divide for some time – this Hot Topic is being added to Accountability Central as the issues continue to gain momentum. We will be offering commentary in a running series, “The Divide – Danger Ahead.”
We welcome your comments – send to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Introduction: November 2011
Latest on The Risk of Wealth and Income Gaps
March 6, 2013 Video Showing the Huge Gap Between Super Rich and Everyone Else Goes Viral- text/viralSource: Daily Finance
For much of the past decade, policymakers and analysts have decried America's incredibly low savings rate, noting that U.S. households save a fraction of the money of the rest of the world. Citing a myriad of causes -- from cheap...
swissinfo - A study published in 2012 by the îInternational Labour Organizationî put the average Mexican salary at $609 a month. Inspired by the anti-poverty successes of former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da...
If there’s one thing that’s certain about media coverage of periods when a Republican is in the White House, it’s that copious amounts of ink will be spilled decrying “rising levels of income inequality” that allegedly threaten...
March 1, 2013 What Explains the Racial Wealth Gap?.Source: Wall Street Journal
White families build wealth faster than black households, a phenomenon economists call the “racial wealth gap.” What explains this growing divide? The biggest drivers, new research shows, are home ownership and income levels....
February 27, 2013 Wealth inequality between blacks and whites worsensSource: CNN Money
The wealth gap between blacks and whites has nearly tripled over the past 25 years, due largely to inequality in home ownership, income, education and inheritances, according to a new study by Brandeis University.
February 26, 2013 Security, corruption, wealth gap are citizens’ top concerns, poll showsSource: Global Times
Some 98 percent of respondents chose the income gap as one of their top 10 most serious concerns, up from 86.4 percent of respondents last year. Thirty percent of respondents worry their salaries won't keep up with GDP growth...
February 25, 2013 Republicans Join Democrats to Back Ending Donor AnonymitySource: Bloomberg
As spending by outside groups financed by anonymous donors has escalated in election campaigns, some Republican lawmakers are rethinking opposition to legislation requiring organizations that run political advertisements to...
Those aren’t the words from some luxury retailer trying to stay afloat as its high dollar customers take a hit. That’s an excerpt from a series of emails from Wal-Mart execs that were leaked to Bloomberg earlier this month....
February 25, 2013 How to Revitalize the MiddleclassSource: Larry Checco
My father, who endured the Great Depression, survived World War II and returned home a decorated war veteran, barely had an 8th grade education. But in the 1950s, while my sister and I were growing up, he worked three jobs...
February 20, 2013 Wal-Mart Emails Reveal Customers Under Financial StressSource: Forbes
One wonders if executives at Wal-Mart Stores ever studied the business wisdom of Henry Ford. As we all know, the founder of the Ford famously doubled the wages of his factory worker in 1914, to the shock of other automobile...
The Risk of Wealth and Income Gaps
|HOME | ABOUT THE SITE | REGISTRATION INFORMATION | VOICES: FEATURED COMMENTATORS AND BLOGGERS | SPECIAL SECTIONS|