America, we have a problem. A problem? Which one: COVID-19? Washington? Well, to me there’s really just one issue that supersedes the rest.
Simply put: Money isn’t distributed equally enough in America anymore.
Companies have been stiffing employees, a dynamic that’s getting worse decade after decade, which is tearing our country apart. What I’m describing of course is the income gap and the wealth gap, (the latter partly the result of that long-standing, sub-standard pay.) As it turns out, the pandemic and the fight for racial equality has exacerbated and highlighted these issues, respectively. (More on that in a minute.)
Before you start calling me a socialist or communist, note that this is basically what President Trump has been preaching. Yes, Senator Bernie Sanders, too. (More on those two in a minute, as well.) The income and wealth gaps aren’t a fraud or hoax. The numbers don’t lie. In fact, let’s run through some of them.
According to a report earlier this year from the non-partisan Pew Research Center, the richest families in America now take home 48% of aggregate income in the U.S. versus 29% in 1970, (with the top 5% fairing best of all.) Middle-class income fell from 62% to 43% over the same period.
As for the wealth gap, it’s “sharper than the income gap and is growing more rapidly,” according to Pew. America’s wealthiest families hold 79% of the nation’s wealth versus 60% in 1983. Or, “…upper-income families [have] 7.4 times as much wealth as middle-income families and 75 times as much wealth as lower-income families. These ratios are up from 3.4 and 28 in 1983, respectively.”
America’s 400 richest people— the top 0.00025% of the population — “have tripled their share of the nation’s wealth since the early 1980s,” according to a study on wealth inequality by University of California at Berkeley economist Gabriel Zucman. “Those 400 Americans own more of the country’s riches than the 150 million adults in the bottom 60% of the wealth distribution, who saw their share of the nation’s wealth fall from 5.7% in 1987 to 2.1% in 2014,” according to the Washington Post.
It’s also worth noting that our economic inequality is the highest of any developed nation, which comes as no surprise to me. (In Denmark, workers at McDonald’s make $22 an hour, and yet a Big Mac costs only 27 cents more.) Yes, we’ve made a deal with the devil in our country, low wages in exchange for cheap goods, with the 1% getting a more than healthy cut.
Read the rest of Andy Serwer and Max Zahn’s article here at Yahoo Finance