Larry Sutton Contributing columnist
December 29, 2013
What should be the government’s role in bringing our country closer to fulfilling its promise of equal rights, justice and opportunity for all? Some see government as a benevolent force working on the people’s behalf while others take the view that government should play a limited role, believing government has done enough. Do you think income and wealth inequalities are problems the government should try to fix?
Well, as we bring the year 2013 to a close and prepare to usher in 2014, the American political landscape seems to be gearing up for a great debate on what some believe is “the biggest crisis facing America” — economic inequality.
This debate will center around America’s income and wealth inequalities, the growing gap between the rich and poor, with the “rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.” Also, this has resulted in a great disparity in the distribution of wealth in America, with the top 1 percent of the population acquiring 95 percent of the total increase in income.
According to long-time political organizer and strategist Robert Creamer, “In fact, America is wealthier than ever … productivity has increased 80 percent since 1979. That means that ordinary people should be 80 percent better off today than 30 years ago.”
Just imagine if people were 80 percent better off today, that would mean more money in the hands of consumers, helping to grow the American middle class and creating demand for goods and services. That, in turn, would help create more jobs, thus growing the economy from the bottom up, not the top down.
Unfortunately, today’s reality means the American Dream is still out of the reach of millions of Americans. Plus, there is a growing hostility toward the poor with some viewing workers as “irresponsible” while acting upon the belief that some people don’t want to work, wanting simply to sit at home doing nothing, feeling entitled to certain benefits. Not only are these beliefs insulting, they show great disdain toward working class Americans.
And with black unemployment remaining at “disastrous proportions,” one doesn’t have to wonder for long why historically some blacks viewed the American economy as being structured to preclude their full participation, recalling the phrase “the last to be hired, and the first to be fired.”
Now, as we turn our attention to the upcoming debate on the problem of income inequality in America, let’s bring to the table leaders from different perspectives who are serious about solving problems and who agree that no one should work full-time and live in poverty, while keeping in mind that human dignity should be at the center of all we do.
What ideas would you be willing to consider to help grow the American middle class, to close the growing gap between rich and poor, to grow our economy and create more jobs? In what ways would you want our country to help its citizens in order to reduce the income and wealth inequalities? What role do you think government should play, if any, in the redistribution of wealth in America?
Remember, you have the right to call your congressional representatives and senators and let them know how you feel about the fight for low-wage workers. Also, it’s not too early to start thinking about the importance of the 2014 mid-term elections. I’ll see you at the poll!