Income Inequality

Our country is rapidly evolving into a two caste system.  One class is the well-to-do.  The other class; the people who have barely enough to get by, if that.  Between 2000 and 2016 the number of households making more than $150,000 a year increased by 37%.  The number of households making less than $15,000 a year increased by the same amount.  The rich got richer and the poor got poorer.  Sound familiar?

Some Facts

58 percent of all new income since the Wall Street crash of 2008 has gone to the top one percent.  Despite huge advancements in technology and productivity, millions of Americans are working longer hours for lower wages. The real median income of male workers is now $783 less than it was 42 years ago; while the real median income of female workers is over $1,300 less than it was in 2007.

Some Causes

Top executives of large companies now make 120 times as much as their average employee.   Far more than they used to.  Highly paid people usually have tax advantages, and often pay little or no tax.  People with college degrees or equivalent training have significant employment advantages.  Automation is displacing many jobs, leaving employees to accept lower paying jobs.  Many former auto workers make 1/3 what they used to. Jobs requiring little training are vanishing.

Some Effects

Infectious diseases are climbing, after decreasing for many years.  Low income families don’t eat as well, don’t have good medical treatment, often live in unsanitary conditions and are under stress.  A potent combination for illness.  Diseases on the rise include hepatitis A, Legionaire’s disease, anti-biotic resistant gonorrhea, chlamydia, sy7philis, cyclosporiasis and hepatitis C.  These illnesses have nearly tripled over the last five years.

Poor Education and Child Training

It’s hard to provide a good environment for children when the schools are sub-standard and the parents are putting most of their time and energy into getting enough income to squeeze by.  Not having enough to eat doesn’t help.

Solutions

While there a number of possible cures for income inequality, all require time, energy and changes in government policy.  It is hard to change things when the people in charge of the system are in the privileged group.  Put kindly, they are not motivated to cure the problem.  They are the benefactors.

So, with that caveat, here are some possibilities, courtesy of Bernie Sanders;

  • Make large corporations pay their fair share in taxes. No more shifting their profits and jobs overseas to avoid paying U.S. income taxes.
  • Increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour by 2020. No one who works 40 hours a week should be living in poverty.
  • Invest $1 trillion over five years to rebuild our crumbling roads, bridges, railways, airports, public transit systems, ports, dams, wastewater plants, and other infrastructure.  This could employ 13 million people.
  • Create one million jobs for disadvantaged young Americans by investing $5.5 billion in a youth jobs program.
  • Enact the Paycheck Fairness Act so women make the same as men.
  • Make tuition free or subsidized at public colleges and universities .
  • Enact a universal childcare and prekindergarten program.

Bottom Line

Does any of this appeal to you?  Strike a chord?  What are your ideas on the subject?  Let me know.

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