Income Inequality Is The Great Problem Of Our Time

Income Inequality Is The Great Problem Of Our Time

How do we end income inequality?
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The American Dream, the idea that you can move up the social ladder through hard work. Americans like to think that America is the place this can happen the easiest, sadly this isn’t true.

So what’s going on? One place to look is income inequality, a report from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) found that “the average income of the top 5 percent of households was 13.3 times the average income of the bottom fifth [quintile] in the late 2000s”. When you also learn that 40% of Americans are unable to pay for an unexpected expense of $400 or more without taking out loans, or selling possessions, according to a Fed study, it is apparent that this is a problem. It is also a problem for our economy at large, another EPI report estimates states that GDP has slowed by 2 - 4 percent in recent years, because of income inequality.

So if Americans are struggling, and our economy is hurting because of income inequality, what is going on, and what do we do?

A report from the Center for American Progress (CAP) says the problem lies in viewing the split between those who went to college, and those who didn’t. CAP says the solution isn’t in giving more people college degrees, but in increasing the demand for workers without 4 year degrees. CAP continues that increases global competition has been a factor. And although “trickle down economics” like those from the Reagan years, and Trump's newest tax cut may not have contributed to Income Inequality (a deeper dive into the Reagan years’ impact on inequality can be found in this Urban Institute article) they did not do anything to help alleviate inequality.

CAP also talks about the important role decreases in Union membership has played in increasing income inequality, along with the fragmentation of the workforce with the “gig economy” saying “freelance workers and independent contractors; part-time workers; and day laborers to supply an increasing share of their workforce … Independent contractors do not receive a host of protections afforded to traditional employees—such as coverage under federal minimum wage, overtime, and collective bargaining requirements—and are far less likely to receive company-provided benefits.”

Also instrumental to fixing income inequality are 5 areas of “investment” CAP names:

  1. Ensuring that all families have access to quality, affordable child care
  2. Building a 21st century infrastructure, including expanding the system and repairing and replacing aging highways, public transportation, passenger rail systems, and water infrastructure
  3. Rebuilding the K-12 schools essential to our children’s future
  4. Preparing homes and communities for the impacts of climate change and saving households money on their energy bills through a new Future-Ready Communities Corps
  5. Providing long-term services and supports so that more older people and people with disabilities can thrive in their communities

Income inequality is multi-faceted problem though. A report from the Brooking’s Institute talks about how certain regions, namely rural areas, are having a harder time bouncing back from the Great Recession. Having fewer options and resources than metropolitan areas is compounded by other “barriers to labor force activity due to opioid use and criminal records.” The extent of this shocking, stating that “the dependence of non-working adult men on painkillers (Krueger, 2017) is strikingly large, with 30-40 percent reporting daily use; and the prevalence of criminal records has grown dramatically as well. While we have long known that ex-offender status among African-American men is a major barrier to their employment, Looney and Turner (2018) find as many as a third of all non-working 30-year old men hold such records.”

The same Brookings report mentions that although there is some evidence that raising minimum wage could limit employment in the long run, expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit could be a good incentive to get people working. The majority or their focus though is in making it easier to get a job by helping economically depressed areas, increasing training for workers without a 4 year college degree, and alleviating problems arising from the opioid crisis, and having been convicted of using/possessing drugs.

The Economic Policy Institute looks to a jobs guarantee (similar to what I talked about in a recent article) along with strengthening labor standards (supporting unions and a higher minimum wage) and also regulating banks to prevent another housing crisis, and higher taxes on the 1%.

All and all it’s clear that income inequality is a challenge which will take many different approaches to solve. I think looking into helping out communities which have had a harder time recovering, especially rural communities, with better infrastructure, and resolving the opioid crisis are two areas we can all agree to work on to begin reducing income inequality, especially since improving infrastructure (which will mean more jobs in of itself) and ending the opioid crisis are issues most people support anyway.

Another undeniable takeaway is that the average worker needs to be better supported. Whether it is through our tax code, or in negotiating trade deals one thing all of these reports have in common is the running theme that the American worker is not being helped by their country.

This is a real problem, but it is one with solutions, and as long as America seeks to be the “Land of Opportunity” I believe we can overcome this problem, and make the American Dream a reality.

Cover Image Credit: Sharon McCutcheon

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I'm An 18-Year-Old Female And I Will Never Be A Feminist

Honestly, I'd rather be caught dead than caught calling myself a modern-day feminist.
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"A man told me to have a good day... I'm triggered." How ludicrous does that sound? Tune in because that is the extent of modern day feminism.

Sure, I think boys are stupid and that I'm probably better than 90% of the male population, but that doesn't make me a modern-day feminist. Now I believe that woman should stand up for themselves, and Golding's quote: "I think women are foolish to pretend they are equal to men, they are far superior and always have been," is by far one of my favorite quotes... but modern day feminism is not something I want to be associated with.

I'm all for "anything you can do I can do better," and "We can do it!" but realistically speaking in some situations, that isn't feasible. As an 18-year-old woman who works out regularly, and is stronger than the average female, I couldn't carry a 190-pound man back to a safe zone after he was shot on the front line of a war even if I tried. It is not anatomically possible for a grown woman to be as strong as a fully developed male.

Reality check: Men and women are not equal.

They are not physically equal, they are not mentally equal. Modern-day feminism is equality between the two genders, but corrupt and on steroids. I support what feminism used to be. I support women who work hard and have goals and ambition... not girls who hate men and stomp around with no shirts on to piss off the public. Feminism has developed into a polluted teaching that young men and women are plunging into.

We are built dissimilarly.

The human brain is literally an organ that is sex oriented. There is a cognitive difference, that singlehandedly destroys gender equality.

I will not spend my time running a revolution against anyone who likes Donald Trump. I am not going to binge watch Trump's twitter in an effort to start some leftist gob of drama. I refuse to be part of this head hunt to attack all Republicans on the newest Instagram post made about how feminism is stupid. I do not hate men, and society would crash and burn without the successful men and women who work together to create what we call the United States of America.

Why, you ask? Why are the 15-25 year olds of our society clinging to feminism? They are hopping on the rapidly growing bandwagon where all the hipsters, feminists and Trump haters reside. It's "cool" to hate Donald Trump. Twitter is a world of liberalism, hatred and fake love towards all. Social media is where this generation is living — and modern-day feminism brews there.

We need to keep separation in the household within roles.

We must raise our children to do what they are best at rather than trying to do something they are incapable of just to prove an irrelevant point.

Women must stand up for what they believe in and be strong in their shoes, while not getting so caught up in what your modern day feminist says she thinks is right.

We cannot let this briskly changing society sway us away from what is going to keep the world working precisely.

Cover Image Credit: Macey Joe Mullins

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President Trump’s Wall Is Not A Solution, It Causes More Harm Than You Think

After the second government shutdown since Donald Trump's inauguration, immigrants and opponents of the wall are not the only ones suffering.

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At this time of writing this, the government has been shut down for 19 days. Friday will be the first day that workers in one of the affected organizations will not receive a paycheck. Children on free lunch programs will have gone without this service for 19 days. Families on food stamps are unable to receive one of the most necessary and basic human rights. This is not an emotional tangent, but rather a reasonable suggestion to our government to do their jobs. Both political sides can be seen at fault, as a negotiation usually occurs between dissenting opinions. However, compromises are made through understanding and reasoning.

However, while our government converses about their views on the proposed wall, I will offer mine. With a price tag of $5 billion to construct, this is not a cheap and short-term project. Building this "border" will take money out of every American's pocket; our government simply does not have $5 billion in a savings account. Funding may occur in the form of taxes, which is already a system that has been reformed and looked over time and time again. If the administration follows through with their prior statements, then funding may also come from the budgets of other existing agencies. Additionally, since President Trump is a man of maximalism, the construction of a wall will impede on residential lives for those who live along the southern border. This affects major cities and towns such as San Diego, El Paso, and San Luis.

In a capitalist country where money and finances are a concern, there are many agencies that would thrive if they could obtain a fraction of this billion dollar proposal.

Schools need funding. The criminal justice system and public defenders need funding. Women's health services, like Planned Parenthood, need funding (Planned Parenthood has stated that government money does not get used in abortion services). Did you know that Planned Parenthood only receives $500 million for their annual budget, which is 1/10th of the wall's budget? With a fraction of this budget, you could fund a project to provide clean and safe drinking water across the world. The governmental funding for the Environmental Protection Agency has been halved, and it is now less than the budget for this wall. Humanitarian services need funding. We could help the homeless and build walls… four walls for a shelter, that is. Remember Puerto Rico and Hurricane Maria? There are still people without power- our government is responsible and needs money to aid these citizens.

I understand that people want stricter security and immigration services. A wall is not a solution. Airplanes exist- people can fly over the wall. Boats exist- traveling to America via water occurs. Building a power symbol cannot solve a "national emergency," as Donald Trump believes; the national emergency lies in the suffering Americans who will be impacted by the attempts to get this wall built.

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