By Wiha Powell
Income inequality is a growing issue in the United States. Since the 1970s, economic growth in the U.S. has slowed, while the income gap has widened. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the concentration of income at the very top of the distribution rose to levels last seen more than 80 years ago, i.e. during the ‘Roaring Twenties.’ Income distribution for the middle and lower class households has slowed tremendously through the years.
A recent report by Oxfam International entitled “Working for the Few” released during the 2014 World Economic Forum, stated:
- Almost half of the world’s wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population.
- The wealth of the one percent richest people in the world amounts to $110 trillion. That’s 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the world’s population.
- The bottom half of the world’s population owns the same as the richest 85 people in the world.
- In the US, the wealthiest one percent captured 95 percent of post-financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent became poorer.
The report further noted that, “massive concentration of economic resources in the hands of fewer people presents a significant threat to inclusive political and economic systems.”
The income inequality gap in this country is too wide. And it has been an issue that has been ignored for decades. However, the startling statistic by Oxfam International should make Washington aware. Is there anything the government can do to narrow the gap?
Income inequality is inevitable in the U.S. There is a laundry list of policies that favor the rich while leaving
everyone else struggling. The federal government as one of the most potent factors in driving income inequality in this country, has instead generated a huge disconnect between leaders and their constituents. If our leaders were to understand the struggles and hardship of America’s working class and the unemployed, they would be more inclined to implement policies that would benefit every American, not just themselves or the rich.
One recommendation: implement a policy that enforces a reasonable tax rate for the rich. The rich currently gets several tax breaks and overall, pay a lower tax rate than working class Americans, another factor that widens the income inequality gap.
Implementing a policy where the rich pays a reasonable tax rate allows taxation to slowly narrow the gap. As a result, the government can invest in meaningful programs like the public school system and making college education affordable to all. Another way to narrow the gap is by raising the minimum wage, which will allow millions of American to rise above the poverty line. These are just a few ways in which the government can narrow the income inequality gap in the U.S.
However, as Congress is more divided than ever, it is hard to predict if our legislators would be able to work together on bipartisan policies that will narrow the income inequality gap in this country. This is an issue that has plagued our society for decades. It is time for the American people to declare War on Income Inequality and pressure our government to finally do something.