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Wealth Inequality In America-The Ugly Side of Capitalism

Updated on February 26, 2015

The Few have More and "The Less" Have Few

It's no secret that America is a staunchly capitalistic society. Earn, spend, earn, spend, and then earn some more. This is the idea (right or wrong) we've formulated to keep the economy booming and sustain our place as the foremost world superpower. Some would argue China, but that's a separate issue. Now, does this type of philosophy come at a cost and have repercussions that stretch across the societal spectrum? To answer my own question, I think so. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with earning the most money you possibly can and enjoying the finer things in life. That being said, would it hurt to give a little kickback? Shouldn't that now infamous 1% statistic be closer to say...25%? At times it becomes impossible to believe these rich fat-cats have a philanthropic bone in their bodies. I'm not talking about setting up your own charity(that you can use as a tax write-off) or throwing a lump sum at a preexisting charitable organization. That's all well and good, but that doesn't create jobs or do much to redistribute the wealth in this country. The economic disparity has grown too large to ignore or feel comfortable about. Let's take a closer look at the numbers to galvanize my point.

Grim Reality

The proof is in the pudding. According to Inequality.org, the wealth share of America’s top 3 percent, Fed researchers calculate, rose from 44.8 percent of the nation’s wealth in 1989 to 51.8 percent in 2007 and 54.4 percent in 2013. The top 3 percent now hold over double the wealth of America’s poorest 90 percent of families!! This statistic needs to be changed, and there's no other way to put it. People get pissed when they see these scary statistics and it makes them want to vomit, especially low/middle income families. Many high income families could care less because they feel they earned it and are thus entitled to it. This causes a domino effect of societal problems as well. Many historically poor neighborhoods can't find a glimmer of hope when they come across a statistic like the one aforementioned and they too become stuck in their ways, unwilling to budge. It's such a demoralizing feeling when people who struggle to feed their families and create a better life for their kids are smacked in the face with the harsh reality of a monopoly on wealth in this country held by 1 percent of its inhabitants. Assisting your fellow man/woman will make for a stronger and more unified society. Monetarily, it doesn't make sense but morally it makes all the sense. This country was founded on principles of unity, loyalty, respect, and helping out those in need. Having it all and still wanting more is a scary notion. But guess what? It's only getting worse. According to an article published in Fortune magazine, "the 1 percent will own more than the 99 percent by 2016." Twisting the knife further the article goes on to say, "The richest 80 people on the planet doubled their cash wealth between 2009 and 2014. They now have as much as the bottom half of humanity put together. Whereas five years ago, it needed the 388 richest billionaires to rival the spending power of the poorest half, by 2014 that number had fallen to just 80." This is why I applaud the organizers and participants of the Occupy Movements because at least they had the stones to speak up and shed light on an issue that the infamous 1 percent would like to remain a secret. Make fun of the protestors all you want, but know that their gripes were justified. Perhaps we should have listened more closely instead of mocking the aesthetic appearance of the protestors and encampments themselves. Too bad they caused you an inconvenience on your way to work and too bad you didn't like the look of the camps and protestors. What's more of an inconvenience is turning a blind-eye and a deaf-ear to this major issue

“Our inequality materializes our upper class, vulgarizes our middle class, brutalizes our lower class.” – Matthew Arnold, English essayist (1822-1888)

The allocation of wealth to one particular class of people is wrong no matter how you slice and dice it. You can argue "we are and will continue to be capitalists" until the cows come home. Being a capitalist does not equate to being a money grubber and that's the direction we're going in here. I feel a huge catalyst for the money gap in American society is education. Access to good education gives you a leg-up on society to the likes of which we've never seen before. Why do we put so much yeast on degrees from four year universities that charge an arm and a leg for tuition that lower class and many middle class families just can't afford? The way things are set up in society, you are essentially doomed to a life of mediocrity and low paying jobs if you don't have the money to pay for college. I suggest universal university level education to all people that will even the playing field. In order to attend such a school you must pass a drug test, however, which I don't think is too much to ask of people; to get off drugs and make something of yourself. What the hell is wrong with that? I don't see how this wouldn't eliminate discrimination in the workplace and I can't picture a better scenario where the best qualified candidates will be given the opportunity for advancement. This is an issue that won't be solved overnight but I feel will be resolved. You can only oppress people and hand them scraps off the big boy table for so long. Change is imminent and the world will be a better place when the wealth is more equally distributed amongst our social classes. It affects us politically as well. Some people don't have the money to donate to a campaign or the platform to endorse a certain candidate so they're forced to vote amongst people that the one percent wealthy fat cats give us. Money is power! And clearly it makes the world go round. But in a good direction? I'm not exactly sure...

Do you feel the money gap in American society will continue to expand, contract , or stay the same?

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      Howard Schneider 

      3 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

      Excellent Hub, Brendan. The wealth gap in this country is expanding and hampering our economic growth. The wealthy sit on this wealth while the lower and middle classes must spend every cent. It is about time we adopted more progressive tax policies and expanded our social safety net. This is not only fairer but it will also stimulate our economy and put it on a stable road of growth.

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