Addressing inequality head-on will put our nation’s wealth back where it belongs — with all of us.
by Marjorie Elizabeth Wood, mirrored from Common Dreams
When the Census released the latest data on inequality, most mainstream media outlets shrugged it off.
That’s quite a contrast from earlier this year when inequality was all the rage. Reporters were scrambling to write about it. In January, President Barack Obama made it the focus of his State of the Union speech. And Thomas Piketty’s 700-page book about inequality shot to the top of Amazon’s bestseller list in the spring.
What do the new data say? The gulf between America’s richest and poorest is growing.
In 2013, the top 5 percent of households had an average income of $196,000 while those in the bottom 10 percent brought in only $12,400. The total number of Americans living in poverty remains at the record levels reached years ago: 45.3 million people.
And though the poverty rate for children edged down from 21.8 percent in 2012 to 19.9 percent in 2013, children remain far more likely to face economic hardship than either working-age adults or senior citizens. All signs point to inequality getting worse in the years to come unless something changes.
Maybe you think that sounds too grim to think about. But you should still care, and here’s why. The growing gap between the wealthiest Americans and everyone else is about much more than dollars. It’s about everything that matters to you most — your kids, their education, your family’s health, your community, your quality of life, and the democracy you live in.