The Inequality Debate: You Decide

Three quotes follow. A bit long, but you gotta read all three.

1. “Because the truth is, the state of our city, as we find it today, is a Tale of Two Cities – with an inequality gap that fundamentally threatens our future.

It must not, and will not, be ignored by your city government.

A little more than five years ago, the Great Recession hit our city economy – and our neighborhoods – with a furious blow to New Yorkers rich and poor.

But more quickly than most predicted, our financial sector has come back.

Wall Street has not only rebounded above its pre-recession levels, but at present hovers near historic highs.

And in some of our neighborhoods, the streets are consistently safe and opportunity consistently flows.

Yet for millions in this city – New Yorkers living in all five boroughs – the economic rebound hasn’t just been slow in coming. It seems a distant fantasy – with the ladder up to the good life stretching farther and farther out of reach…

That is what we want for New York City.

To lift the floor.

To offer every New Yorker a fair shot.

Fighting to end the Tale of Two Cities – not just because it’s moral and just…but because it makes ALL of our lives richer.”
Bill de Blasio State of the City Address 2/10/14

2.”And the result is an economy that’s become profoundly unequal, and families that are more insecure… Since 1979, our economy has more than doubled in size, but most of that growth has flowed to a fortunate few.

The top 10 percent no longer takes in one-third of our income — it now takes half. And meanwhile, a family in the top 1 percent has a net worth 288 times higher than the typical family, which is a record for this country.

So the basic bargain at the heart of our economy has frayed. In fact, this trend towards growing inequality is not unique to America’s market economy. Across the developed world, inequality has increased. Some of you may have seen just last week, the Pope himself spoke about this at eloquent length….
But this increasing inequality is most pronounced in our country, and it challenges the very essence of who we are as a people. Understand we’ve never begrudged success in America. We aspire to it.

The problem is that alongside increased inequality, we’ve seen diminished levels of upward mobility in recent years. A child born in the top 20 percent has about a 2-in-3 chance of staying at or near the top. A child born into the bottom 20 percent has a less than 1-in-20 shot at making it to the top. He’s 10 times likelier to stay where he is. In fact, statistics show not only that our levels of income inequality rank near countries like Jamaica and Argentina…

The idea that so many children are born into poverty in the wealthiest nation on Earth is heartbreaking enough. But the idea that a child may never be able to escape that poverty because she lacks a decent education or health care, or a community that views her future as their own, that should offend all of us and it should compel us to action. We are a better country than this.

So let me repeat: The combined trends of increased inequality and decreasing mobility pose a fundamental threat to the American Dream, our way of life, and what we stand for around the globe. And it is not simply a moral claim that I’m making here. There are practical consequences to rising inequality and reduced mobility….

For one thing, these trends are bad for our economy…

And rising inequality and declining mobility are also bad for our families and social cohesion — not just because we tend to trust our institutions less, but studies show we actually tend to trust each other less when there’s greater inequality. And greater inequality is associated with less mobility between generations. That means it’s not just temporary; the effects last. It creates a vicious cycle….

And finally, rising inequality and declining mobility are bad for our democracy. Ordinary folks can’t write massive campaign checks or hire high-priced lobbyists and lawyers to secure policies that tilt the playing field in their favor at everyone else’s expense. And so people get the bad taste that the system is rigged, and that increases cynicism and polarization, and it decreases the political participation that is a requisite part of our system of self-government.”
Barack Obama 12/4/13

3.”One of the principle reasons for the legislation in (our country)* is the necessity to combat Bolshevism. This legislation is not anti-(these people)** but pro-(our country)*. The rights of (our people)*** are thereby to be protected against destructive (people’s)**** influences…
(These people)** who formed less than one per cent of the population tried to monopolize the cultural leadership of the people and flooded the intellectual professions, such as, for example, jurisprudence and medicine. The influence of this intellectual …… class in (our country)* had everywhere a disintegrating effect . For this reason in order to bar the spread of this process of disintegration it became essential to take steps to establish a clear and clean separation between the two races”
Adolf Hitler
The Speeches of Adolf Hitler Oxford University


One Response

  1. When work becomes a four letter word and you’re still sitting on you mom’s couch at 35, it’s easy to blame the rich for your struggles with upward mobility.
    It’s totally political.

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