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New Campaign- Mind the Gap!

Apr 18, 2011 | By Page May

Mind the Gap!
According to the Economic Policy Institute, the top 1% owns more than 90% of us combined! In fact, they own over 35% of the entire nation’s private wealth.

Why does this matter? Well, the amount of wealth a person owns greatly affects their financial stability and access to opportunities- education, health care, starting a small business, savings, retirement, etc.

A large gap in wealth means a large gap in opportunities for  families and individuals.

Most Americans are surprised to hear the extent of wealth disparity in this country, not only because it is larger than expected, but also because the current distribution of wealth surpasses the level of inequality we as a society are willing to accept (see chart below).

Over the coming months, the NETWORK Education Program will be launching a new campaign designed to tell the story of the wealth gap- how it happened, today’s consequences, and ways to address the problem.  

We will use this blog as one of many tools to share information, coordinate action, and facilitate larger conversations.

Specifically, we will use this blog to post facts and informative graphs like the one above as well as videos, fact sheets, links to interesting articles, and updates on the campaign.

Each posting leaves room for you to leave comments- we urge you to use this space to spark conversations, give feedback, and to ask questions.

Please check-in frequently, leave feedback, and subscribe to the Mind the Gap! campaign to learn, connect, and stay updated!

Click here to return to main Blog page

Click here to check out, learn more, and join the Mind the Gap! campaign

Figure 1. Actual vs. Conceived vs. Ideal Distribution of Wealth

Comments

How it all began and bridging the gap

Keeping up with minimum wage would do a great deal to end poverty. Congress has given business a pass on paying a subsistence wage going back to the 1970's. Every time this is taken up in congress, the worker looses, receiving only slight increases in the minimum wage over the last 40 years. We must raise the minimum wage such that a worker receiving the wage meets Federal standards for poverty level. If we are unwilling to see the minimum keep up with the poverty level, then we are obligated to provide for those who can't make ends meet. As our economy as a whole benefits from minimum wage workers, the cost of welfare programs designed to bridge the gap should be borne out by additional tax revenues. Those who benefit from the welfare programs should not be denigrated because of their need and/or participation.

Instead of trying to figure

Instead of trying to figure out how the top 1% got so rich, wouldn't it make more sense to try to figure out how the bottom 50% got so poor? I don't think it was because they were being forced to pay the salaries of hedge fund managers. This is the part I really don't understand about "social justice". Salvatore (and apparently most of you) is astounded that people who made money through their own hard work would have a problem with even more of it being confiscated by the government and distributed (extremely inefficiently, moreover) not only to people who need the basic necessities of life, but well beyond that, to many who have figured out how to take advantage of every government program there is. This is justice?

The premise here is the problem is the wealth "gap", but too often the solution is to widen even more the TAX "gap". We are coming dangerously close (maybe we're already there) to the point where the bottom FIFTY PERCENT of Americans would not even BE on a chart of who pays what percentage of the total tax burden. Moreover, that 50% can continuously vote in politicians who will continue to increase the amount of tax those wealthy few pay; money that will come back to them in ever-increasing entitlement programs, after the politicians and government bureaucrats have skimmed off their huge percentages, of course. We have gone so far beyond providing the necessities of life to those who cannot provide for themselves, it isn't even funny. The number of people affected by the "government policies' that may affect hedge fund managers is minuscule compared to the number of people on the other end of the spectrum who are disincentivized to work and create by government safety nets which have morphed into government hammocks.

Even if the plan of taking from the rich and giving to the poor, to make the chart on the top more like the chart on the bottom, would work without ruining the entire economic system, has it occurred to anyone that it would only be a matter of time before the industrious few would again figure out ways of regaining a larger share of the wealth, while the lazy many would not have a clue how to hold on to the windfall they received and would squander it away on poor choices?

The other thing I don't understand is how the Catholic Church (and I also see a logo for Christian Charities USA here) got so heavily involved in politics, and specifically socialism. Since these charts aren't really about annual income, but rather about total accumulated wealth, will the "solutions" to this problem involve confiscating property as well? Jesus said to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's. He said nothing about lobbying Caesar. Can you imagine what the Catholic Church, and even more, the broader Christian church, could accomplish if each of its members actually tithed ten percent of their wealth to God? Wouldn't that make more sense than tinkering with a very fragile economic system that is already not investing in jobs for fear of more government regulation and/or taxation making it impossible for them to expand successfully? Atlas will eventually shrug.

Mind the Gap

The information you present is quite distressing. So much for the myth of the American dream. We all start off in life on very different financial footing -- and that reality is exacerbated by these growing disparities. Why is it that under Eisenhower, tax rates on the wealthy were so much higher -- and it wasn't a big deal? Are we greedier today?

Mind the Gap

The information you present is quite distressing. So much for the myth of the American dream. We all start off in life on very different financial footing -- and that reality is exacerbated by these growing disparities.

Why is it that under Eisenhower, tax rates on the wealthy were so much higher -- and it wasn't a big deal? Are we greedier today?

It really is a shame...How

It really is a shame...How did it get this bad?

Confused

How did it get to be this way? I'm looking forward to more information from the NETWORK Education Program!

Why?

Why is it that so few people pay attention to wealth disparities in this country? We all need to learn more -- and to care!

Wealth Gap and Taxes

So, why is it the people holding the lowest 50% of wealth in this nation don't want to raise taxes on those holding the highest !%?  Is it that they dream of being in that 1% soon, and don't what higher taxes to affect them?  Is that a reasonable dream?
Marge, BVM

Why don't the poor want to tax the rich?

Personally, I think it's a moral issue.  I think that the rich in America have successfully convinced the rest of society -- and, importantly, convinced themselves -- that they deserve to be rich.  "It's their money; they made it through their own hard work; it's nobody's business to take it away from them."  What everyone forgets in this debate is that while individuals may move up and down in society through their own efforts, the STRUCTURE of rewards in society is determined by government policy.  That is to say: you can work hard and become a hedge fund manager, but the fact that hedge fund managers make $1 million a year instead of $100,000 a year is due to regulatory changes in the finance industry.  It would be better to change the regulation.  But if we can't, we have to redress the imbalances through taxes.
Salvatore
sbabones@inbox.com
http://salvatorebabones.com
http://benchmarkingamerica.com

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