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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: info@accountability-central.com

 

 

Introduction: November 2011

 

 


Latest on The Risk of Wealth and Income Gaps

March 28, 2014 How rising student loan debt is widening the wealth gap

Source: CBS News

Every month that Gregory Zbylut pays $1,300 toward his law school loans is another month of not qualifying for a decent mortgage. Every payment toward their student loans is $900 Dr. Nida Degesys and her husband aren't putting in...

March 26, 2014 The Wealth Gap Widens, As The Poor Lose Ground

Source: Ideastream.org

Cities tend to be hubs of the extreme when it comes to income. In an urban center you will find the best-paid lawyer or banker, just as you will find folks relying on social assistance and public housing. The causes and effects...

March 20, 2014 How public sector layoffs add to the racial income gap

Source: MSNBC

There have been better times to be a public sector worker. Over the past several years, government employees have been buffeted by across-the-board sequestration cuts, a years-long federal pay freeze, unpaid furloughs, benefit...

March 5, 2014 Does the president’s budget present solutions for closing the economic gap? = text/video

Source: PBS Newshour

President Obama’s 2015 budget proposal includes new spending for preschool, job training and public works and would expand the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-wage workers. Judy Woodruff talks to Robert Greenstein from the...

March 4, 2014 Obama Budget Proposal: Tie Tax Hike for Rich to Cuts for Poor

Source: Time

President Barack Obama’s proposed 2015 budget would raise taxes on many wealthy individuals while providing an estimated 13.5 million Americans a tax break, the White House announced Monday, in the latest manifestation of...

March 3, 2014 85 Individuals own as much as the poorest half of Globe

The Real Truth - Just 85 people have as much wealth as the poorest half of the worldâs population combined, according to a report by Oxfam International. The report was revealed ahead of the îWorld Economic...

February 26, 2014 Tales of two cities: America's wealthiest are also the most unequal: Study shows gap between rich and poor is widest in Atlanta, San Francisco and Miami

Source: Daily Mail

The gap between the wealthy and the poor is most extreme in several of the United States' most prosperous and largest cities. The economic divides in Atlanta, San Francisco, Washington, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles are...

February 25, 2014 5 tycoons who want to close the wealth gap

Source: USA Today

As the middle class struggles to make gains and President Obama strives to shine a spotlight on the issue of income inequality, an unlikely constituency is looking for ways to close the nation's growing wealth gap: A handful of...

February 21, 2014 Income inequality: Among US cities, bigger ones are more unequal

Source: Christian Science Monitor

Some of America's biggest and most economically vibrant cities, including Boston and New York, are also the most unequal, according to a new report on income inequality from the Brookings Institution

February 12, 2014 Redistributionist America: Why The Democrats' New Equality Campaign is Lazy, Insincere and Counterproductive

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Harvard economist Greg Mankiw is one of the few to have taken a big picture look at American redistribution's bottom line. His results summarize the net effective "pay minus receive" tax rate for each income quintile (e.g., a...

Displaying results 41 to 50 out of 531

The Risk of Wealth and Income Gaps

 
 
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  • @PMG_Rperez has helped hundreds of #moms and #dads earn income from home http://t.co/bbrO05t06b #Profit #career #income #wealth #smallbiz 20:45
  • RT @SavannahPhotos: Savannah has a wealth of history and architecture that few American cities can match. -- travelwizard #savannah #travel 20:19
    Artchitect Theory
  • Savannah has a wealth of history and architecture that few American cities can match. -- travelwizard #savannah #travel 20:11
  • "Is Wealth and Income Inequality Inevitable in a Capitalist System?" good read http://t.co/hOsDf9vEDo 18:26
    Gobanian
  • @BurhanAKABA okay this is more clear now man lol so you are talking about wealth. Big difference between household/family income and wealth 17:37
    Ricky Tan
 
 
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