A Pew Research poll revealed some disappointing news for the vast majority of Americans; we’re being screwed financially, and it’s worse than we though. There is a wide separation in income for the rich and working class throughout America.
The 2010 Decennial Census revealed an increased gap, but the details of that inequity are discouraging.
Beginning in 2007 with the onset of a major recession, the wealthiest Americans have prospered, while the income of the middle class and lower has lessened, or at the very least leveled off. Factoring cost of living increases, the quality of life for those below the wealthiest Americans and the working class has diminished.
The income for the wealthiest Americans revealed an increase of seven percent since 2010; the income for middle class revealed a zero percent increase. Those with the highest income level comprise 21 percent of the nation’s population; the middle class makes up 46 percent, and lower income 33 percent.
The Pew Research poll also revealed a 30 years statistic which is far more disheartening. In 1983 those considered middle class had a median income of $94,300; today it is only $96,500. Lower income families had a median income of $11,400 in 1983; last year it dropped to $9,300. In 2007 middle income peaked at $158,400; lower income levels were at $19,100.
The prognosis for the future is not promising. Pew attributes the reasons for a widening gap in income levels to stock owner ship and government bailouts of major financial institutions and major corporations.
Because the wealthy are invested more heavily in stocks, they recovered quickly from the recession as stocks began to rise. Middle and lower income levels had no such security blanket.
As the gap widens, and there is little doubt that it will, financial inequality will create dissent among the voting public. Republicans claim that this separation is a positive situation; that it creates jobs because the security of companies allows them to expand. This premise has proven to be false. As the country began to heal from the recession, major companies hired less full-time workers, paid lower wages, and provided little or no benefits such as health insurance or retirement.
As predicted by many economists worldwide, capitalism is a failed economic system. It eventually causes class separation, and causes poverty to grow. Workers slowly become ‘slave labor’ without recourse. A ‘free market’ economy offers no incentive, no benefits for the working class.
Studies have proven that wealth grows in a capitalistic society, but it does not promote economic security for the middle to low income employees.
Free trade agreements such as NAFTA and the proposed TTIP between the United States and the European Union, will create a widening gap in income in the largest economic nations of the world. Citizens of these European nations remain more informed than the average American. Protests are a common event, seen throughout Europe; the largest are occurring in Italy at present.
Our economic structure will disallow a narrowing of income disparity. It’s like a line in an old song; “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.” Only you vote can bring change. Independent and intelligent action at the polls can move all income levels back towards the center.
By James Turnage