Tag Archives: Wealth inequality

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

Expensive Housing & Wealth Inequality

Source: rentcafe.com

Expensive housing prices are putting America into a vicious cycle of wealth inequality.

Look at public schooling. It’s no secret state and local property taxes are the major source of funding for schools.

In fact, local property taxes account for approximately 93 percent of education expenditures, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. That means towns with high property values have virtually no problem generating the money to fund public schools.

Poorer towns, on the other hand, don’t have these advantages. This only deepens the wealth divide, as education clearly matters when it comes to this issue.

Mean Earnings by Highest Degree Earned, $: 2009 (SAUS, table 232)
Mean Earnings by Highest Degree Earned: 2009 (SAUS, table 232)

This certainly can be seen in Connecticut.

Each year, the National Low Income Housing Coalition calculates the “housing wage.” This is the “hourly wage needed to afford a typical two-bedroom apartment in metro areas throughout the United States.”

Connecticut’s housing costs are the 8th highest, with an average housing wage of $24.29.

Affluent towns including WestportNew Canaan, and Weston have a housing wage of $37.37. It’s a different story for the low-income cities. Bridgeport’s housing wage is $24.67, while  New Britain and Hartford are at $22.00.

Compare this to Connecticut’s school district rankings. New Canaan, Westport, and Weston are found at the top of the school district rankings, while Bridgeport, Hartford, and New Britain are bottom feeders.

Is there a way to offer equal opportunities and better education to low income residents?

Partnership for Strong Communities, Policy Director, David Fink is working to provide affordable housing to struggling residents.

Source: pschousing.org
Source: pschousing.org

Fink is aware that people are generally very defensive when they hear the words, “affordable housing.”

He compares offering affordable housing in affluent communities to giving a child vegetables.

“You don’t give it too them all at once,” he says. “Out of 50 new developments, you offer 10 as affordable housing.”

Fink says people realize affordable housing “isn’t so bad,” after seeing the long-term results.

“After time people will realize that it’s not the crips and the bloods moving in. It’s the nurses, and hardworking families.”


By: Jackson Rioux

Is There a New King in Town?

On April 16, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote the Letter from Birmingham Jail in the margins of the daily newspaper while sitting in prison. In the letter he discusses how there must be direct non-violent action to confront unjust laws.

Fast-forward to the current year 2015, where an African American President is currently leading the nation. One could be under the belief that racism and unequal treatment ended long ago with Martin Luther King, Jr.

Wrong.

On October 26, 2015, my communication class was graced with the presence of Bishop John Selders. Selders, a musician as well as a third-generation preacher, realized that a silent approach in politics could not accomplish change on a larger political scale. This realization came at the means of great loss. On August 9, 2014, Michael Brown, an unarmed African American, was shot by a white officer in Ferguson, Missouri.

The compassion and energy Bishop Selders expressed over equal rights and the passion in support of the Black Lives Matter movement was explosive. Bishop Sanders, like Martin Luther King Jr., would prepare his team for non-violence action protests. Here was a man willing to shut down streets, get arrested, make a stand, and speak out because of unjust treatment of African Americans.

If interested, please refer to their website- moralmondayct.wordpress.com

One thing that I found particularly interesting was Bishop Sanders reference to dog whistle politics. Dog whistle politics are when individuals or groups support in silence. They are typically afraid to confront mainstream views, even if they believe them to be wrong. Similarly, to Martin Luther King Jr. who believed that staying silence is as bad as committing the act itself.

If you haven’t read about or seen Bishop John Selders, that may change quickly because he has the integrity to make a difference.

 

Olivia C. Granja

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

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