I wonder how many people here in Monroe would want to be in the top 1 percent of the money earners when about 64 percent of the people living here can only afford to rent a home. This should be a good indication of inequity locally.

Inequity between the haves and the have-nots is growing. So the president has taken on a new priority for 2014. In his State of the Union message coming up, it’s expected that Obama will hit this topic hard.

A report released this week by an economist at the University of California-Berkeley shows that income inequality in the U.S. economy is at a new high. As the economy struggles in the wake of the Great Recession, income inequality broke records going back nearly 100 years. According to the study, incomes among the top one percent rose by 31.4 percent between 2009 and 2012, while incomes for everyone else grew just 0.4 percent. The top decile of earners in the economy now captures more than half the total income.

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich makes an argument for the middle class of how the concentration of wealth peaked just before 1929, the Great Depression era and again in 2007-2008, just before the Great Recession. In between these two times, as the concentration declined, bottomed out and didn’t rise dramatically came what Reich calls the Great Prosperity of the late 1940s through the late 1970s, when executive pay was only four or five times that of the average worker. The economy boomed and life was good for all.

Former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., makes the point that political divisiveness rises along with income inequality. Got to love now how the rich employ lobbyists and, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United, can spend limitless amounts of money to buy politicians who will protect the interests of the wealthy over the needs of the country. But to counter this argument one must consider all the advancements made in technology.

From The New York Times I found, “Looking at the issue from another angle, the case is made that the authors (Can the Government Actually Do Anything about Inequality?) spend too little time on what he sees as the most important reason that political solutions are not likely to work: the global economy has become even more competitive. Capital is internationally mobile, and corporations and their owners will move to other countries when faced with what they see as excessive taxes and regulatory burdens: With the technological changes and the more globalized economy we live in, the cost of stemming the rise in inequality has also increased. A cross-country perspective shows this very clearly. Globalization and changes in technology have been a boon to owners of capital, allowing them to decrease their labor costs, boost productivity and, in many cases, replace workers’ jobs entirely.” It was also argued that “income inequality is growing for reasons that have little to do with politics, ‘including’ changes in household composition, more single parents, like marrying like, and wage inequality produced by the increased demand for well-educated workers and the failure of the supply of educated workers to keep pace.”

Personally, everyone cannot be a millionaire. Whatever aptitude one has, that is his ability to produce. For some it’s the ability to make millions, for others, to eke out a living. 

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