Income Inequality Requires Policy Changes

Jan 4, 2021

Commentary: Let’s get real, the biggest issue in the U.S. today is income inequality. Stock market looks great, but that is a very poor measure for average Americans' well-being. The S & P 500 gained more than 16% in 2020, while there was widespread pain from Covid-19 and steep job losses. About 84% of stocks are owned by 10% of our citizens, so the vast majority of our working families do not benefit from a rising stock market. They work for wages that have been static the last 40 years and have not kept up with increasing costs of housing, transportation, health care, education and food.

America’s wealthiest, on the other hand, had a very different kind of year. Billionaires have added about $1 trillion to their net worth since the pandemic began. The 2017 tax cut for corporations also helped. Two people--Jeff Bezos of Amazon and Elson Musk of Tesla gained 1/5th of this windfall. This shift in wealth is similar to what happened in the roaring 20’s when Rockefeller and Carnegie monopolized the oil and steel industry.

When are we going to have a reverse of the trickle-down economic policy that has brought this income misery about for the average wage earner? We need the return of progressive tax policy where everyone pays their fair share, an increase in the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour, access to affordable health care for all, training and education programs for jobs that pay a livable wage and a feeling that we are all worthwhile people who deserve respect.