Democrats need to think bigger on economic inequality

This summer and fall, Democratic candidates across the country are going to talk about economic inequality.

They will bemoan the fact that the rich are getting richer, leaving everyone else behind and refusing to pay their fair share. They will say that more needs to be done to expand economic opportunity to all.

Then, they will say that the two silver bullets – the two must-dos in order to rectify the problem they have just outlined – are a minimum wage increase and pay equity legislation.

Seems like a bit of a letdown, no?

Democratic candidates can win on economic inequality right now because they are the only folks talking about it.  Republicans’ thoughts on the issue currently range from wishing you didn’t ask to actively cheering on high levels of inequality as a sign of economic success. But the inequality planks on the Democratic Party’s platform are glorified toothpicks.

I’m all for raising the minimum wage to $10.10 and I’m all for pay equity, but those are really small tweaks when it comes to addressing systemic inequality. When Republicans decide that something is worth talking about, they throw out some big – if misdirected and disastrous – ideas (the Fair Tax and other major overhauls of the tax code, voter ID requirements, Constitutional amendments banning pretty much anything, etc.).

It’s time we do the same. If the Democrats want to step their game up when it comes to inequality this year, here are a few places they could start:

We need to update our definition of poverty

Before you continue reading, take a second and ask yourself what your socioeconomic status is.

If you’re like most Americans, you answered with something ending in “middle class,” and you probably didn’t look up your annual household income to see if you’re actually in one of the middle three quintiles. That doesn’t make you lazy (if you’re wondering, incomes in the middle three quintiles fall between $20,593 and $104,087 per year), it makes you normal. As the Obama campaign found out when it did its opinion research in 2012, Americans don’t reference their income to define their class. To paraphrase David Simas, who was the campaign’s Director of Opinion Research:

Dinnertime at St Pancras Workhouse, London.

Dinnertime at St Pancras Workhouse, London.

Americans define middle class as the ability to find a decent job, support their family, have the financial security necessary to provide for some leisure time – a vacation once in a while – and send their kids to college (if kids want to) with the hope that the next generation will wind up slightly better off.

Under this definition, practically everyone is some kind of “middle class.” The term is describing a lifestyle, the normalcy of which is more open to interpretation and obfuscation than a matter-of-fact income level. No one wants to call themselves “upper” or “lower” class in America, even if they officially are, because it implies an abnormal form of social participation. If you’ve ever wondered why rich people – sorry, “upper-middle class” people – can say with a completely straight face that $500,000 per year – nearly five times the upper bound of the mathematical “middle class” – isn’t all that rich (Fortune Magazine even came up with an acronym for it: HENRY – high earner, not yet rich), there’s your answer.

The big takeaway here is that wellbeing is relative. Your income may define your economic standing, but it doesn’t define your socioeconomic standing; your ability to participate in society does. While this is no doubt related to income, policy solutions will have to do more than just address basic living standards.

But that’s precisely what our welfare state is designed to do.

Credit for developing our current standards of poverty is usually given to Mollie Orshansky, who worked as an economist in the Social Security Administration in the early sixties. In 1963, she published a paper in the Social Security Bulletin that introduced a measure of poverty that simply tripled the cost of the Department of Agriculture’s economy food plan – the most recent data available showed that American households spent a third of their income on food. Ironically, as she would later say, she didn’t mean to establish a new poverty metric, but instead wanted to evaluate the risks associated with low economic status. When President Johnson announced the war on poverty, Orshansky’s paper and its poverty line – $3,165 (1962 dollars) for a nonfarm family of four – were cited in a Council of Economic Advisers report, which set the poverty line at an even $3,000.  While this points to Orshansky as the initial arbiter of poverty in the United States, others have noted that Robert Lampman, a member of the CEA staff during the run-up to the War on Poverty, had been using the $3,000 figure before Orshansky’s paper was published.

In any case, what’s important here is that our understanding of poverty has not changed much since, and it should have. Orshansky published an updated version of her poverty metrics in 1965 to account for household size, and our country continues to calculate absolute poverty based on her standards, indexed for inflation. We assume that American households allocate the same proportion of their income to food as they did fifty years ago – in reality, we spend less on food and more on housing – and we assume that the income distribution and standards of social participation are effectively unchanged.

Additionally, while the poverty line equaled roughly 50 percent of median household income in 1964, it is now closer to 30 percent. By our own outdated metric, the poor really have gotten poorer in relative terms. With this in mind, it would seem that the way we define and attempt to mitigate poverty is woefully inadequate. While prominent voices on the Right highlight the growth of the economic pie as a reason to think that poverty doesn’t exist in America – If poor people have TV’s and refrigerators, why are they complaining? – the way the pie is divided up matters immensely when it comes to providing a floor of social wellbeing along with economic wellbeing. Countries in Europe recognize this, and measure poverty accordingly.

To this end, our public policies should not be merely oriented towards making sure that everyone has enough to eat (which we already have a difficult time achieving); they should seek to improve what has become stagnating upward mobility. Doing so will not only provide for a more equitable social arrangement, it will also improve our nation’s efficiency and productivity.

Doing something as simple as changing the way poverty is defined, which costs us absolutely nothing, will change the way policymakers think about and address poverty down the road. One of the biggest obstacles to a serious conversation about poverty and inequality is our outdated and inaccurate way of defining the problems themselves; updating our definition of poverty will ground every other conversation about economic inequality in present-day reality.

Treat welfare like a leg up, not a handout

In 2010, Arizona made significant cuts to a program that provides childcare for single mothers under the auspices of reducing wasteful welfare spending.

The result? Those mothers had to stay home and look after their kids instead of going to work, which wound up costing the government more in welfare expenditures since those households were no longer receiving paychecks.

Similar effects have been observed in public housing: providing low-cost housing for people who would otherwise be on the street saves the taxpayers money in the long run, as rent subsidies are a lot cheaper than the unpaid emergency room fees associated with homelessness. New Jersey Senator Cory Booker has said some pretty smart things on this issue; his colleagues should take note.

Obviously, public assistance payments should go to people who deserve them; that being said, waste within the system is far and away the exception and not the rule. According to a recent report from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, over 90 percent of welfare expenditures currently go to seniors, the disabled and households that also receive a paycheck. What’s more, anyone who’s taken the Food Stamp Challenge knows that the payments are far from generous.

We’ve gotten pretty good at squeezing waste and fraud out of our welfare system; now it’s time to translate that system to one that promotes opportunity and mobility instead of mere subsistence. Lifting citizens out of poverty will increase their educational attainment and ability to participate in society, effectively expanding our nation’s talent pool. Over the long-term, this expansion in social equality will mitigate economic inequality on its own.

All this is to say that assistance to low or no-income citizens must have more in mind than simply making sure they don’t die. If subsistence is the only goal of welfare programs, the people they “benefit” are effectively bracketed out of society, treading water and lacking the opportunity to do anything more than survive. Treating public assistance as an investment instead of a stopgap will lead to more people making productive contributions to society and more opportunity for citizens most in need of it. Furthermore, it has the potential to save taxpayers money in the long-term, turning welfare checks into paychecks.

When economic inequality comes up, Republicans often try to pivot and replace income with “opportunity.” Let’s have that conversation, and we’ll see who’s serious about investing in the American people.

Redistribute wealth (yeah, we can say it)

The current federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour will earn a full-time employee $15,080 per year, barely higher than the $11,945 poverty threshold for a single-person household and a little over half of the $22,283 poverty threshold for a family of four – both of which, as mentioned above, have been calculated using outdated standards.

To rephrase: a full-time minimum wage worker can barely support themselves, and can’t come close to supporting their family, at what is currently considered subsistence level, let alone a level that allows for social participation.

In an oft-derided example from last year, McDonald’s couldn’t make ends meet in a sample budget given to its employees without factoring in a second job and welfare payments. Even then, expenditures for needs such as heating and health insurance were comically low. While this example made the need for a minimum wage increase apparent to many liberals, it should make the same need apparent for conservatives: When the minimum wage can’t lift a family out of even absolute poverty, the government is forced to pick up the slack through safety net expenditures. If we agree that working full-time should lift a family out of poverty, we have to ask ourselves: would we rather have the market or the government do the lifting?

During the 2012 campaign, Mitt Romney complained that 47 percent of Americans didn’t pay any federal income taxes; setting aside for the moment that a significant slice of that 47 percent is comprised of seniors and the disabled, most of the rest are people who are working (hard) but don’t make enough money to qualify for the lowest federal tax bracket. They would love to make enough money to pay some back in taxes, they’re busy making sure they can keep the lights on in their house first.

What’s more, empirical evidence is showing raising the minimum wage from where it currently stands would have positive, not negative effects on overall economic productivity. As former Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers Austan Goolsbee has noted, raising the minimum wage increases consumer demand, as workers strapped for cash have the money to buy the things that consumers are selling. It’s a simple enough concept: a consumer’s 50 thousandth dollar is likely spent on food or other basic consumption goods, while the same consumer’s 250 thousandth dollar is likely saved; increasing the minimum wage increases the amount of money put directly put back into the economy via consumption, creating a multiplier that increases overall demand.

As with tax rates, the relationship between wages and output is parabolic, not linear: tax rates of 0 and 100 percent both produce zero revenue, with the maximum revenue produced at a rate that falls somewhere in between. Much in the same way, while raising the minimum wage to $75/hr would be a bit much, we are currently well below a minimum wage that would produce negative economic effects – a $10.10 wage indexed to inflation would be a nice start, but there’s more to be done. At their current levels, our country’s low wages create completely avoidable inefficiencies in our market that perpetuate the very inequality they are supposed to mitigate.

We’re already winning on the minimum wage even as we accept the conservative premises surrounding the economics. We have the opportunity to flip the narrative on its head when it comes to who’s serious about wages and jobs; let’s take it.

Change the incentives for wealth creation

That our country’s current wages leave us with a workforce that can’t afford to buy what producers are selling highlights a larger point: If consumers don’t have enough money to consume things, producers, to an increasing extent, won’t have an incentive to produce things.

This hollowing out of the middle class has exacerbated our nation’s economic shift towards income becoming concentrated in stocks and information. As argued by Kenyon College economics professor Jay Corrigan, it takes a lot of people to build a bridge; it only takes a handful of people to build a Snapchat. And if you don’t trade stocks and haven’t gone to code school, two of the chief means of getting ahead in today’s economy simply aren’t in the cards for you. Additionally, the finance and information sectors of our economy require fundamentally smaller workforces and draw from inherently privileged talent pools.

But there’s no reason why those talent pools should be privileged; our students should absolutely be learning how to code in public school. We’ve heard vague talk of “high-tech economy” and “STEM fields,” but putting Intro to C++ in our public middle or high-school curricula is something tangible (and cheap and easy) that we can do right now that would be a major step towards reducing inequality down the road.

Perhaps as distressing is the fact that, as our nation’s educational achievement slips relative to other countries, our best and brightest are being funneled into a market that values the leveraged creation of wealth for wealth’s sake above all other endeavors. In an economy that places a lower demand on making things and solving problems than it used to, our financial sector has become increasingly isolated from the rest of the country, becoming a self-perpetuating machine that creates wealth for itself by moving other people’s money around. Regulating the financial sector, coupled with raising wages and setting a more progressive capital gains tax, would alter the incentives within our economy so that our market placed value on different, more tangible products.

As it stands, we have an economic system designed to protect and perpetuate the concentration of wealth at the highest income brackets. While this has produced absolute gains throughout the economy, it has produced relative losses. Therefore, as standards of social participation have increased, many have been left behind despite nominal gains in income. Rectifying this increase in socioeconomic inequality is not only in the interests of those who seek to mitigate the effects of privilege in pursuit of a more egalitarian society, it is also in the interests of those who seek to ensure that the United States maximizes its potential and remains competitive in a global economy.

And when it’s framed that way, it doesn’t make sense to call it class warfare. Expanding opportunity to raise the floor of social participation is in everyone’s interest. Democratic candidates across the country have the chance to make that case, but first they have to decide whether they just want to win or if they want to govern.

The 2014 and 2016 electorates will be ones that know perfectly well that our political and economic systems aren’t working. There’s simple political advantage to be had by pointing this out and waving around a few tried-and-true band-aids, that won’t give our candidates any kind of mandate to be the kinds of leaders everyone says they want. Winning elections is easy; moving the electorate is hard work.

I hope we start this year.

An earlier version of this post appeared in the Kenyon Observer.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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24 Responses to “Democrats need to think bigger on economic inequality”

  1. MarilynRStroup says:

    I just got<- paid $7500 parttime in a week on the lap-top b­­­­­­­­y ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­G­­­­­­­­­­­­oog­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­l­­­­­e­­­­­­­­­­­­­.I­ a­­m ­­­­­­­­­m­­a­­k­­­­i­n­­­g ­­­­­­­­­a ­­­­­­­­­go­­od ­­­­­­­­­sa­­la­­ry ­­­­­­­­­fr­­­om ­­­­­­­­­h­­.o­­m­e ­­­­­­­­­$­­5­5­0­0­­­­­­­­­-­­­­­­­­­$­­70­0­0/w­­­­­e­e­kL­­­ast Sunday got a brand new BM­­­W since getting a check for $647­­­4 this – 4 weeks past. I beg­­­an this 8-months ago and imm­­­ediately was bringing home at lea­­­st $97 per hour. I wo­­­rk thr­­­ough this link, go to tech tab for work det­­­ail­­­


    Here ­­­­­­­­­is ­­­­­­­­­I ­­­­­­­­­started—–$-Jobs….


  2. lynchie says:

    In Pittsburgh a daily dose of advertising done as a news story is the norm. Since networks have gotten rid of reporters in favor of readers and writers ensuring everything is sanitized for the 1%. OWS could not get their message on tv and the arrests and police brutality were non starters.

  3. lynchie says:

    Theoretically the royalties reduce our tax burden. Adding to my income puts the burden on me.

  4. lynchie says:

    We would have to tear ourselves away from the latest Kardashian sex tape or who won DWTS. There is also no way any revolt won’t be stopped with extreme force by the military police we paid to arm with tanks, etc.. the crushing of OWS is exactly how they will do it but with more violent force.

  5. FLL says:

    Your comment actually lists some useful suggestions, particularly in the sixth paragraph. Then I read your last sentence, and it made me think. Do journalists and commenters in the mainstream media sometimes wonder why people don’t vote? Yes, occasionally, but I rarely see that on these comment pages for the very reasons you mention. Does anyone complain about people not voting? That is extremely rare on these comment pages. So why the constant barrage of temper tantrums from Bill, Nicho et al about people who do vote? No, really, Becca. Stop and think about it. Insulting invective aimed at people who vote—primaries, general elections, whatever? Even if someone decides that their choices at the national level are not worth bothering with, they may very well decide that they have some good choices at the state and local levels. Who in the hell has the right to condemn exercising the right to vote in general and insult the people who vote? Well, yes, Americablog’s moderators do allow them that right, but their motives are not a sacred cow and I don’t think Americablog’s moderators would insist on their motives being treated as a sacred cow. My, my. So very thin-skinned.

  6. Bill_Perdue says:

    “Why are the Democrats so scared to talk about this? Oh yeah, it scares off donors” Forget donors, they’re scared because they and the Republicans have gutted unions, jobs and our standard of living since the Carter administration. The evidence for that is overwhelming and irrefutable and they’d rather not see it discussed. It would paint both as parties of scabs.

  7. Bill_Perdue says:

    Actually socialists and labor party activists are gaining strength across the country. Our combined fight to help organize workers at fast food and big box chains like Walmart, home of a union busting scab like Hillary Clinton for six years, and for a decent minimum wage better than the insulting anti-worker proposals of the Democrats and Republicans is being emulated by local union groups and left groups all over the country.

    We’ll use an electoral strategy aimed at educating and organizing working people for the real show down, the battle end the rule of the rich and their toadies in the Democrat and Republican parties.

    Because of anti-democratic laws against left parties passed by Democrat and Republican parties it’ll be an uphill battle but so was the fight against apartheid. We’ll win.

  8. Bill_Perdue says:

    I always keep in mind that some don’t vote for a lesser evil.

    They vote for this or that Democrat or Republican because they agree with corporatist warmongering in places like Ukraine and with western colonialism in places like Palestine. These Democrats, Republicans, teabaggers and DLC Dixiecrats oppose unions and favor gutting the Bill of Rights. They think that the racist murders of Anwar al-Aulaqi, Samir Khan, ‘Abd al-Rahman Anwar al-Aulaqi and Jude Mohammed are OK. The ACLU and CCR don’t think that it’s OK for Obama to order the racist murders of Americans citizens. (I wonder, does that mean that the ACLU and the CCR are Republicans.)

  9. FLL says:

    Your constant barrage of insults (or slurs, if you like) is directed toward liberals or progressives who vote… but never toward conservatives who vote. I don’t think you’re convincing anyone to stop voting by insulting them. So why bother? Self amusement? Your interpretation of the Christian faith (which you’ve actually mentioned in the past)? It clearly upsets you to see liberals and progressives vote. People have to wonder why.

  10. nicho says:

    You specifically mentioned — by date — the general elections. So I was putting no words in hour mouth. You get minus points for accusing me of that. Have no idea what you mean by slurring people whose only financial option is to live in a mobile home. Perhaps you would prefer they live in a box under a bridge. You are the one who sounds like Ann Coulter,

  11. BeccaM says:

    I know exactly what you mean. My mom worked at Walmart for a while.

    Their demand? That she be available for any shift, any time — but she was not to expect any hours in excess of 25 a week.

    From what I gather, this is actually very common throughout the minimum-wage industry, whether it’s Walmart or McDs or anywhere.

  12. FLL says:

    You get no points for putting words in my mouth, but I was actually thinking of the primaries because they happen first. Now don’t tell me that you’re claiming that all primary candidates (other than the Greens) are corporatist warmongers. Such a claim would show a real lack of critical thinking skills, not to mention an infantile view of the world.

    My criticism was that the folks on this blog who constantly suggest that liberals and progressives shouldn’t vote never voice any objection to the idea of conservatives voting. The idea of only conservatives voting would certainly please trailer-trash fundamentalist Xtian scumbags. Oops. You wouldn’t happen to know anyone like that, would you? ;)

  13. nicho says:

    So, you’re saying vote for a corporatist warmonger because it’s the lesser of two evils? At the end of the day, that’s going to be your choice. Corporatist Warmonger (R) and Corporatist Warmonger (D). You could vote Green or something, but that’s essentially the same as writing in Chelsea Manning. Not voting has a whole different appeal. It actually makes a whole lot more sense than any other other options above.

  14. Houndentenor says:

    Because the tv reporters are spoiled overpaid brats who have no idea. Of course they walk past people with low paying jobs every day that they could just ask but then they’d actually have to talk to a security guard or cleaning lady. Ewww. That’s the real problem. The people in the top 20% are purposefully ignorant of how the people who work for them actually live. And they like it that way.

  15. Houndentenor says:

    Because they don’t live in the real world. Have they ever tried applying for job when you aren’t available for any shift on any days? Your application is tossed. The idea that people can juggle 3 part time jobs is a myth. I know people do it, usually in places where the person hiring them already knew them. But most of these low-paying jobs expect you to be able to work whenever they want you to while keeping you below full time and with no benefits. That’s the reality for working people. Anyone talking about these jobs without being aware of that should be immediately punched in the face and yanked off tv or radio. I’m sick of these overpaid morons blathering on like they know something about the current working conditions for Americans.

  16. Houndentenor says:

    Even the Mormon Church earlier this year put out a statement about the dangers of the widening gap in our economy between the rich and poor. The Mormons. Why are the Democrats so scared to talk about this? Oh yeah, it scares off donors. To the 1%ers who think this can continue going as it is: does the name Marie Antoinette mean anything to you?

  17. cambridgemac says:

    When private citizens and corporations receive royalties – for oil (on their land) or intellectual property or minerals – it is treated as income and taxed at a low rate – 15%, 25%, 34%. Publicly owned resources, however – timber in national forests, leases to drill in the Gulf of Mexico. and the airwaves – are treated differently. 100% of the proceeds goes to the government. Effectively, a confiscatory tax rate of 100%.

    We should be distributing those proceeds equally to citizens and then taxing them like other income. If the great aquifers, air waves, and other natural resources were treated this way, each American family could get a boost of a thousand dollars a year. (And we should start treating the air, rivers and the rest of the ecosystem as a public good – and charging users and polluters royalties.)

  18. BeccaM says:

    Yeah, well, another thing we need to do is to lose the phony idea that working for someone else in a job that produces goods or services is somehow more ethical, moral, and noble than other vocations.

    I mean, let’s take that example: The single mother. The conservatives and fundamentalists insist she should be raising her kid or kids and devoting her time to that — then they insist she be required to hold down a paying job. Or several jobs. In one instance, when a mother was complaining that she AND her husband both couldn’t earn enough to support their family, the response wasn’t “Gee your wages should be higher” — but rather, “How come you didn’t get another job?”

    And the point there is even if that mother does as these mouth-breathing throwbacks insist and get married, her husband can’t earn enough on his own either to support them.

    Our attitudes towards work and fair compensation for such are totally f*cked. CEOs apparently deserve every last dime of the tens or hundreds of millions of dollars they receive every year, but someone working one or several minimum wage jobs doesn’t deserve a raise at all. We also see higher education as something to be purchased, even to the extent of decades of crushing student loan debt, and not as an investment in our society and our people.

    We’ve lost the ideals of “retirement” and “leisure time” for everyone, no matter one’s economic status. The ideal of not having to spend one’s entire life inside the hamster wheel, running endlessly and miserably until death finally ends the toil and suffering. Worker productivity has continued to climb, year after year and decade after decade — but in the ultimate perversity, virtually all of the gains have gone to the already obscenely wealthy, while both retirement and leisure time have become quaint and apparently morally suspect notions for anybody but the moneyed classes.

    Democrats don’t need to ‘think bigger’ on income inequality. What they need to do is think differently. And to stop just “thinking” and “talking” and start on the “doing.” Unfortunately, both they and the GOP counterparts have been co-opted by the very same corporate and anti-populist forces which insist on trickle-down Reaganomics and stagnating wages, as well as deriding every effort, every program designed to try to make people’s lives less awful and squalid. So while the GOPers have adopted the language of “hate the poor”, the Dems occasionally can mouth the language of populism — but when it comes time to deliver, there’s only excuses as to why it can’t be done.

    For these reasons, including the fact the Democrats in Congress and the Executive are all wealthy now, I don’t have a whole lot of faith they’ll ever do more than mouth the populist platitudes — while holding a hand out behind them for the corporate graft.

    And then they wonder why people don’t bother to vote.

  19. FLL says:

    Jon Green’s post centers around the economic issues that he thinks voters should be pushing for when they interact with Democratic candidates. The summary at the end of Bill Perdue’s comment is “on Tuesday, the 8th of November, 2016 vote socialist, vote for referendums for a decent minimum wage, write in Chelsea Manning or just sit it out as a protest vote.” Aside from the fact that Bill’s comment is off-topic, Bill concludes (correctly) that the following options are equivalent and will achieve equivalent results:

    (1) vote socialist [for Congress?! Socialist parties do not yet have enough popular support to even appear on the ballot.]

    (2) write in Chelsea Manning

    (3) don’t vote

    Those are the three suggestions for liberals and progressives? You may as well be listening to advice from Ann Coulter.

  20. emjayay says:

    Immediate conflicts and puppies stuck in wells, and locally car crashes and fires are more interesting than endemic structural problems to most Americans.

  21. Indigo says:

    Yes, yes, yes! But then again . . . if we redefine “poverty” to correspond to existing incomes and buying power, we’ll have to redefine the USA socio-economic global status as Third World. The Romney-Trump propaganda machine won’t stand for that. It won’t happen.

  22. bkmn says:

    The Democratic party refuses to embrace any progressive ideals, ideals that put the party in good standing with working Americans. Until HRC and Pelosi stop putting people like Steve Israel in charge of deciding where party campaign money goes the party will not embrace progressive candidates.

  23. Bill_Perdue says:

    The government of the United States of America is a wholly owned subsidiary of the rich. Congress is composed of the rich or those clawing their way to the top based on their aptitude for betrayals of working people, people of color. retirees, youth, women and the poor.

    The numbers of rich people in Congress are pretty well evenly distributed by party and they dominate both Houses. From Open Secrets “For the first time in history, most members of Congress are millionaires… Of 534 current members of Congress, at least 268 had an average net worth of $1 million or more in 2012, according to disclosures filed last year by all members of Congress and candidates. … Members of Congress have long been far wealthier than the typical American, but the fact that now a majority of members — albeit just a hair over 50 percent — are millionaires represents a watershed moment at a time when lawmakers are debating issues like unemployment benefits, food stamps and the minimum wage, which affect people with far fewer resources, as well as considering an overhaul of the tax code.”

    The US economy is characterized by massive, intractable permanent unemployment, poverty, homelessness and worst health care system in the world. “Income inequality is now a problem in just about every developed nation, but America remains an outlier. In the U.S., the top 20 percent earn a whopping 16.7 times what the bottom 20 percent earn, and that gap is ever widening, given 95% of all income gains since 2009 have gone to the richest 1 percent.

    It’s deliberate ‘inequality’ based on massive attacks by Republican and Democrat regime since Carter and Nixon. It’s not a mistake or a natural economic phenomena. The current deepening of attacks on unions, workers and our standard of living is being led by Obama by the utterly corrupt anti-worker Democrats and Republicans in Congress and state governments.

    Their policies are crimes against working people and they will get worse until we create a workers government and a workers state. On Tuesday, the 4th of November, 2014 and on Tuesday, the 8th of November, 2016 vote socialist, vote for referendums for a decent minimum wage, write in Chelsea Manning or just sit it out as a protest vote.

  24. dgc2013 says:

    You are so right. We need to do more and the democratic party is putting out the bare minimum to be considered for the majority. The worst is that the media is actively ignoring the issue. You see very little about the inequality and a great deal about issues such as the border crisis and Gaza. These are important issues, but they are not the issues that will define us as a great nation if we don’t get our middle class back to the status of number 1 in the world.
    We are behind 27 other nations.
    Where is the media coverage that should be on this issue? I don’t even see it on the liberal web sites. That is a failing of not the democratic party but of the people running these sites. They should be hammering the inequality and wage wars. Washington will not act until the people force them to. It is not in the interest of the Washington Elite to change the system unless we make it in their best interest.

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