Tag Archives: Income inequality

We choose not to give up

By Krystal Copeland

It’s the responsibility of those who know the truth to educate and teach those that don’t. If it wasn’t for Tim Wise, how engaged would everyone from all backgrounds be to listen to someone speak about racism? It’s fascinating to hear a white man be an advocate for minorities. Not only is he a great speaker but he offers something out of the ordinary that grabs folks attention.

We see how history repeats itself, so it’s really hard to expect change. And  Wise touched on how we could expect change, but it must involve the assistance of those who are privileged and those of European descent known as white folks.

There are white people who are programed to think a certain way. And they come from decent living conditions and nonetheless grow up being a member of the dominant group. So as a result, they don’t have to think about or even be aware of some important stuff.

So if growth involves change and change involves letting go, then how can we build off that? As we’ve been taught throughout this whole semester and have heard Wise discuss, growth can be messy. Changing people’s viewpoints and getting folks out of their comfort zone can be extremely hard.

As with the Black Lives Matter movement, the fact that you have white people out there protesting with blacks proves  we can unite as one. We all are human beings and race is what disconnects us and wealth is what classifies us. We can’t afford to waste any more time being a divided nation.

The bigger problem is wealth and income inequality. Allowing companies like Walmart to pay workers pocket change while the Walton family makes infinity times their workers is just plain disrespectful. As Wise said “the economy is predicated on low wages.” The problem is not the Mexicans or blacks are taking  jobs; it’s the greed of these CEOs.

We have to challenge these people in power. 

We’ve learned that there’s a balance when people earn low incomes because those are the ones who help support the economy. Just think if we all were wealthy there’s the possibility of an unbalanced economy. But my question is why should people have to live in poverty and why can’t we all be equally educated. I believe the fair thing to do is to give everyone equal opportunity and not to be judged based on your skin color or lack of education.

We can’t keep allowing racism to continue. And we can’t allow those in power to keep manipulating are minds. We will continue to be a “Snap Chat” nation as  Wise calls it if we don’t put an end to what’s holding us back. Poverty doesn’t have to exist. That’s why it’s up to us come together as one and fight for change. And we can’t give up.

 

You don’t know what you don’t know

Federal-Minimum-WageBy Jessica Vezina

“Just admit that you do not know what you do not know, and then listen to the ones who have had to know it all their lives just so they don’t die.” These words of Tim Wise stuck out to me Thursday at the Bridging the Gap: A Dream Deferred event, because it is all too true about the way income inequality, homelessness and poverty is handled in America.

White men in D.C. are trying to fix situations  they  know nothing about.  Wise said that you don’t know anything you haven’t taken a class on. White men will never know anything about racism because they have never had to deal with it. Politicians will never know anything about poverty because chances are they have never had to live through it.

If you talk to a politician about how to end income equality, and compare it to those who get the crap end of the stick of income equality, chances are they will be vastly different.

Presidential front-runner Bernie Sanders had a long list of how he’s going to end income inequality. After reading them all, it appears that he wants to just throw money at the issue. He wants to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, or invest $5.5 billion into youth job problems, or make tuition free at public universities throughout America.

While all of these changes sound  nice, where is he going to get this money? And how is he going to ensure that the one’s suffering from income inequality are going to be the ones benefitting from these changes?

Wise talked about how 160,000 African Americans are arrested yearly on drug charges that are strictly enforced in African American communities, while there are 160,000 white people in America who are not arrested on drug charges when they should.

When going for these pretty new jobs that pay $15, do you  think employers are going to give it to the one with a record over the one without one? Because an increase in minimum wage means that employers can now be even pickier on whom they hire. They are getting one for the price of two, so whomever they hire better be damn good.

Which adds to the downward spiral of income inequality, because those who grow up in better communities, with better career resources and more privileges, will have the better resume and interviewing skills over the less fortunate person.

I doubt that the politicians intentionally meant for income inequality to get this out of hand, but thinking that they have the knowledge to fix it is just unimaginable to me. One piece of advice I’m sure Tim Wise would give them is to listen to those who took the class, because they truly know what needs to be done.

 

 

Tax Fairness & Wealth/Income Inequality

Source: Huffington Post

Most people acknowledge the vast wealth/income gap in America.

Documentaries have covered it.

The New York Times has written a plethora of articles about it.

Politicians have even denounced it.

Realizing a problem is one thing. Solving that problem is another issue.

Anyone can talk about how terrible it is, or watch, and read, and listen to the awful effects it has on this country. We need to go above and beyond to offer solutions.

Unfortunately, there is no single answer when it comes to solving wealth and income inequality in America.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

Source: efile.com
Source: efile.com

Instead, break the problem down. Look at a single issue as a piece to solving the puzzle of wealth/income inequality.

One piece of the puzzle that should be looked at is the lack of tax fairness in this country.

Theoretically, America has a progressive tax. A single American who makes over $413,200 from Jan. 1, 2015 to Dec. 31, 2015 has to pay a tax rate of 39.6 percent.

A single American who makes between $1 and $9,225 has to pay a rate of 10 percent.

Although it sounds fair on paper, things tend to work out differently when push comes to shove.

Source: The Washington Post
Source: The Washington Post

In 2012, the average tax paid by the top 50 percent of earners was 14.33 percent, according to the IRS.

How fair is that?

The country’s richest people tend to earn from their various investments.

Investments are taxed at a much lower rate than income. The nation’s wealthiest residents also are eligible for many other tax breaks. Some may surprise you.

These factors lead to Warren Buffett paying a lesser tax rate than his secretary, or Mitt Romney paying taxes at a 14 percent rate.

Tightening up restrictions and closing these loopholes would create a fairer America.

FDR. Source: History.com

This doesn’t mean the tax rate has to be at a WWII level, when Franklin D. Roosevelt taxed top earners 94 percent.

There are other options. With a concentrated effort, a difference could be made.

It’s time for America to start putting the puzzle together.


 

By: Jackson Rioux

Gender Wage Gap: Bad for Everyone

 

Source: forbes.com

On June 10, 1963, President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act. It was hailed as an important first step in achieving gender equality in the workplace.

JFK signs the Equal Pay Act.
JFK signs the Equal Pay Act.

52 years later, women are still making less than men. In 2015, a woman working full-time makes approximately 79 percent of what a man makes.

At its current rate, the gap won’t close for another 43 years. Waiting for the year 2058 to come around is a bad idea. The gender wage gap is an issue that affects everyone.

We all have a mom. Others have aunts, sisters, girlfriends, wives, or friends who are women.

Gender wage gap by ethnicity.

If you care about these people, then you should care about the gender wage gap.

The issue, however, goes beyond a personal level.

Women account for 80 percent of all Medicaid recipients, and 70 percent of all Welfare recipients, according to economist, Heidi Hartmann. Equal pay would allow women to become less reliant on governmental assistance.

It could even create an added incentive for women to join the workforce.

A 2011 McKinsey & Company study examined the vast benefits the American economy could earn from women.

The study showed the American economy would be approximately 25 percent smaller if women were not a part of the workforce.

A very slow increase.

That sounds impressive, but it should be even larger.

Seventy-six percent of all women aged 25-54 are in the workforce. That same statistic is currently 87 percent in Sweden.

The economy would grow by 3-4 percent if America’s average could rise to just 84 percent. 3-4 percent may not sound like much, but don’t be fooled.

The American economy grew 2.4 percent in 2014. This was America’s largest economic growth since the Great Recession.

The numbers don’t lie. Americans of all genders and ethnicities would benefit greatly from equal pay.

Arguing against gender income inequality would be a disservice to the “American Dream” we all know and love.


 

By: Jackson Rioux

Tragedy of the Commons

What would William Forster Lloyd say about the world today?

The 19th century British writer in economics was particularly interested in population control. In 1833, Lloyd introduced a scenario that would later be known as, “The Tragedy of the Commons.”

Source: microfeeder.com

Imagine a flourishing, green, grazing area that is available to all the members of a town. There would be plenty of room for the members to bring a sufficient number of cattle to the green.

That is, if everyone acted in the best interest of the town. Unfortunately, greed takes over, and a small group of farmers exploit the green. The green is eventually overgrazed, and destroyed.

Thus, the tragedy of the commons.

Today, the farmers are corporations such as Nike and Apple. The green is the number of job opportunities American corporations should be offering their citizens.

Instead, Nike offers $200 shoes made by female workers who earn around 50 cents an hour in foreign countries.

Source: Inequality For All
Source: “Inequality for All”

Apple is no better. A 2014 report from BBC exposes the vast mistreatment Chinese workers faced.

These practices are hurting Americans too.

America lost 5.1 millions jobs from 2001-2011 due to outsourcing, according to US News & World Report. This only deepens the divide between the rich and the poor.

Source: Emmanuel Saez, UC Berkeley

Outsourcing is not the only reason for the income divide, but it’s no coincidence that America’s income inequality is at a boiling point. In fact, the divide is the highest it’s been since 1928.

However, there is reason to be optimistic. 60,000 manufacturing jobs were added in the United States in 2014. The same article reports “only” 50,000 jobs were “outsourced,” in 2014.

2014’s net increase of 10,000 jobs was the first time in at least 20 years there had been an increase.

Perhaps that once green pasture of American jobs will return after all.


By: Jackson Rioux

Occupy Gotham

With director Christopher Nolan’s Batman swan song The Dark Knight Rises (bat song?), one can expect a healthy dose of action, tights, and …political commentary?! In his previous bat movie The Dark Knight, Nolan slyly instilled his superhero film with topical themes that dealt with the ethics of surveillance, terrorism, and torture in a War on Terror era. Much like its predecessor, The Dark Knight Rises takes influences from current events to craft a compelling story.

Rises tackles the growing unrest between the elite 1 % and the general public as a result of the lopsided economic inequality. When mercenary Bane takes over Gotham, he taps into the city’s economic unrest and beckons citizens to take back their city from the rich. When delivering his speech, the scene is framed as if Bane is talking directly to the camera. We are his audience, his angry majority. Immediately, a social revolution occurs as the majority revolt and jail the wealthy.

“You’re going to wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us,” utters Catwoman as if she was a member of Occupy Wall Street. Did Nolan intend for these parallels? Maybe, maybe not…but as a result, he had audience members engaged in political dialogues just from watching a simple superhero movie.

 Quenton Kloczko

“A Mutual Acquaintance of Many: Inequality” by Farrah Fontano

Recently I watched a documentary in my Writing for Electronic Media class. Following the topic of Income Inequality through the prism of race, because what’s a better way to make people uncomfortable than talking about race? In the documentary we follow former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich on his quest to determine when this inequality becomes a problem. He poses three major questions having to do with the distribution of wealth: 1. What is happening? 2. Why? 3. Is it a problem?

One thing that he said really hit home for me and that is that 42% of children born into poverty will not get out. So this means that two people decided to have a child and NOT take their financial situation, or basically anything into account, and essentially made a conscious decision to screw their OWN child for the rest of its life. What if that child that will live in poverty for the rest of its life has the cure to cancer in its brain? It will never come out because that kid will never have a chance to get a higher education or honestly flourish inside the public school system. This is a serious problem that needs to be addressed.Jackie-Chan-WTF

A Shift in Ideology for the GOP?

Photo Credit: www.pressherald.com

This Washington Post article is a fascinating story because it shows the current climate of the country regarding income inequality.

As the topic becomes more important, opinions seem to be reforming in the Republican Party.

“Republicans are striking an increasingly populist tone these days,” writes Amber Phillips.

Some contenders are no longer attempting to ignore or debunk income inequality like Conservative talk show host Bill O’Reilly has on his popular television show.

Instead, top GOP contenders including Donald Trump, Rand Paul, Jeb Bush and others are discussing big changes.

This includes going after “big banks” and even implementing a higher tax on the wealthy.

Donald Trump has said, “I want to lower taxes for the middle class…the middle class built this country…not the hedge fund guys.” Jeb Bush also believes regulation is needed for the “bad banks.”

Everyone knows talk is cheap, but it is promising to see candidates stray away from typical GOP ideologies and realize the income/wealth gap is a major problem in today’s society.

Whether these candidates sincerely mean it or are just simply appealing to the masses to earn votes remains to be seen.

One can only hope it is the former and not the latter.

By: Jackson Rioux

Welcome to the Wealth/Income Inequality Blog

IMG_3393On this blog, you can read the work of some incredible CCSU students who are spending the fall of 2015 studying the causes and effects of wealth and income inequality through the prism of race.

Ferguson. North Charleston. Baltimore. None of those places just happened, and none of those places are all that different from New Britain, except perhaps in size.

We hope you learn from our blog. We hope you come back again and again. Mostly, we hope to get a conversation going.

And we hope you’ll consider attending our Bridging the Gap event on Dec. 10, where we’ll have food, activities, and displays of students’ work from the semester, as well as Tim Wise as our keynote speaker.

You can find out more about last year’s event here.

Photo by Spenser Sedorey