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: email@example.com
Introduction: November 2011
Latest on The Risk of Wealth and Income Gaps
A couple of days back I gleefully leapt on the story about restaurant closures in Seattle and the effects of that city’s higher minimum wage. There has been a certain pushback from various people to that idea and we might now be...
March 13, 2015 US household wealth touches record high: Nearly $83 trillionSource: Bellingham Herald
WASHINGTON — Fueled by higher stock and home values, Americans' net worth reached a record high in the final three months of 2014. Household wealth rose 1.9 percent during the October-December quarter to nearly $83 trillion, the...
March 10, 2015 Income inequality increasingly concerning
Cape Breton Post - In Canada, the C.D. Howe Institute, îthe Conference Boardî of Canada and the Canadian Centre for Policy ... âIn spite of the enduring belief that Americans enjoy greater îsocialî...
Source: Uncover Michigan
The number of Americans participating in the labor force has been on a decline for the past few years. Nearly 33 percent of the Americans above age 16 are not part of the workforce, the highest number since 1978. The Bureau of...
That there is a difference between pay for men and pay for women is true. And it’s also true that we’d like to work out why this is happening. Only once we know what is happening and why can we then try to make policy decisions...
March 2, 2015 Billionaire now claims he was misquoted when he said 'America's lifestyle expectations are far too high' ...and argues he's always fought against inequality
Daily Mail - Greene, a self-made businessman worth around $3 billion, spoke at the îWorld Economic Forumî in Davos, Switzerland, last month, reportedly saying he believes people in the United States need to stop...
Source: Business Insider
After decades of shop floor and political campaigning, US retailers are finally beginning to increase their minimum wages. While the increase is benefiting millions of workers across the country, its driving force is market...
February 25, 2015 Tipped workers to get pay hike in N.Y.Source: USA Today
At year's end, tipped workers in New York will get their first hourly pay raise since 2011, the state Labor Department announced Tuesday. The hourly rate will go from $5 to $7.50 on Dec. 31 for waiters, hotel housekeepers and...
February 23, 2015 Most Americans Say the Rich Aren’t Taxed EnoughSource: Time
Tax season is here and more than two-thirds of Americans think the wealthy pay too little in federal dues, according to a new poll. What’s more, six in 10 say the middle class pays too much.
February 23, 2015 It’s Morning, Again, in America...Source: Larry Checco
To hear many politicians, pundits and financial analysts tell it, it’s morning again in America. The stock market is at record highs. Corporations are sitting on trillions of dollars in cash (Apple, alone, has US $178 billion in...
The Risk of Wealth and Income Gaps
|HOME | ABOUT THE SITE | REGISTRATION INFORMATION | VOICES: FEATURED COMMENTATORS AND BLOGGERS | SPECIAL SECTIONS|