The first step is to educate ourselves and others about the issue of wealth inequality. We need to understand how the system is rigged in favor of the wealthy and how this affects us. We also need to understand our power and how we can use it to create change. The more people who understand the issues, the better.
We need to be able to articulate our shared values and goals. We need to be able to have intelligent conversations with people who may not agree with us. We need to be able to persuade them to see our point of view. And of course, face-to-face conversation is always the best way to connect with people and get them to see your point of view.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you’re probably aware that wealth inequality is a major problem in the United States. But what you might not realize is just how significant the problem has become. The top 1% of Americans now own more wealth than the bottom 90%. This concentration of wealth at the top is unprecedented in our history.
Wealth inequality isn’t just a problem for those at the bottom of the economic ladder; it’s a problem for everyone. When such a large portion of the population doesn’t have any significant savings or assets, it becomes difficult for them to weather financial setbacks, take advantage of opportunities, or retire comfortably. This lack of financial stability can lead to increased crime rates, lower educational attainment levels, and poor health outcomes—all of which drag down our economy as a whole.
So what can we do about this problem? Education is always a good place to start. If we can raise awareness about the issue of wealth inequality and get more people talking about it, we can start to build support for policies that will help reduce inequality and create a stronger, more prosperous economy for everyone. To understand how to solve a problem, it’s important to first understand how the problem started. So let’s take a look at some of the key factors that have contributed to rising wealth inequality in America.
Structural Racism: Throughout American history, people of color have been systematically prevented from accumulating wealth. From redlining and racial covenants to mass incarceration and predatory lending practices, minorities have constantly been pushed to the margins while white people have been given a leg up. As a result, minorities are far less likely to own homes or have retirement savings—two key components of building long-term wealth.
Wage Stagnation: For decades now, wages have remained largely stagnant while costs have continued to rise. This means that Americans are working harder than ever but still can’t make ends meet. The type of work that many Americans do has also changed; jobs in manufacturing and agriculture—which often provided good benefits and paid decent wages—have declined sharply while service-sector jobs have increased. These jobs tend to be low-paying and provide little opportunity for advancement, which makes it difficult for workers to save money and build long-term wealth.
Taxes—or More Specifically, the Lack Thereof: Our country’s tax system used to be much more progressive than it is now, which helped reduce inequality by ensuring that wealthy individuals paid their fair share. However, over the past few decades, there have been continual cuts to taxes on capital gains and inheritances while taxes on work income have remained relatively flat. This has exacerbated inequality by making it easier for those who already have money to amass even more while doing nothing to help those who are struggling financially.
The issue of wealth inequality is complex and multi-faceted, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to do something about it. By educating ourselves and others about the origins of this problem, we can start to build support for solutions that will create a more prosperous economy for everyone—not just those at the top.