In recent decades, many studies have shown that the gap between rich and poor has increase dramatically. Corporations, for example, have gained numerous tax breaks while ordinary households are responsible for paying a larger-than-even portion of the overall tax burden. A case in point is a recent Mother Jones article: Half of America’s Gain in Income Goes to Richest 0.25 Percent.
Another article in Yahoo! Finance: CEO pay and benefits on the rise: Report. From the article:
Top executives at major businesses last year made as much money in one day of work on the job as the average worker made over the entire year, according to a report released on Wednesday.
At the same time, workers at the bottom rung of the U.S. economy received the first federal minimum wage increase in a decade. But the new wage of $5.85 an hour, after being adjusted for inflation, stands 7 percent below where the minimum wage stood a decade ago.
I hope this is shocking to at least some people. A disparity in wages is unfair in any country that would like to consider itself progressive.
So what’s wrong with this? Isn’t America the land of opportunity where greed is king? If we look to other nations (something that’s increasingly rare for U.S. citizens), the lack of a middle class can lead to huge problems. Inequity coupled with plain old greed often results in civil unrest. And why do the rich need more money? Society should look down upon these people. Yet, having a fleet of 5,000-pound cars to drive to the grocery store is acceptable. And, it’s taken for granted that the one thing that the rich want is more money.
Personally, I don’t see this cycle stopping anytime soon. American culture is rooted in materialism. And changing a culture can take a very long time. Still, this system appears to be unsustainable, and the gap can only get so wide before major changes start to occur. I hope that will happen soon, for the benefit of everyone – the rich and the not-rich.