There is no question that the wealthiest 1% in America have seen their incomes skyrocket over the last 30 years, while wage stagnation and decline have been the reality for the remaining 99% of us. Preferential policies enacted by government (lower taxes, less regulation) have largely contributed to this dramatic shift in earnings.
One thing about the wealth gap issue in America that has so galvanized me is the fact that it negatively impacts so many people (99% of us!), and yet so many of us are unsupportive of any efforts to address the imbalance.
Look at these polling numbers:
- 32% of Americans (nearly one-third) oppose raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans (Gallup, Sept 2011)
- Roughly that same number (36%) oppose greater regulation of Wall Street banks (Gallup, Apr 2010)
- Only 33% (again, one-third) of Americans support the Occupy Wall Street movement (PPP, Nov 2011)
- A smaller though still significant number of Americans (23%) think that top Wall Street executives, if found guilty in perpetrating the 2008 economic crisis, should not be prosecuted (Time, Oct 2011)
In essence, one-third of Americans have seen their incomes stagnant since the 1980s, have lost their homes or seen the value of those homes fall dramatically since 2008, are unemployed or underemployed, are drowning in debt, and yet are fine with the way things are and even oppose efforts to make things better for themselves.
This is a travesty and a testament to the effectiveness of the wealthiest 1% in essentially convincing the rest of us to vote against our own economic interests.
The New York Times says that incomes for the top 1% of Americans begin at $386,000 (and average $717,000). That said, there is a simple test to determine where you should stand on the key issues of:
- Raising taxes on the wealthy
- Holding Wall Street executives accountable for their willful destruction of the global economy
- Reinstating regulations that used to be in place that were designed to prevent meltdowns like the 2008 crisis
The test? Simply ask yourself, “Do I earn more than $386,000 a year?”.
If your answer is “Yes”, then you are among the top 1% of income earners in the United States, and logically you should be opposed to all of these key initiatives. (And are probably not a reader of my blog.)
Conversely, if your answer is “No”, then logically you should be in support of these same issues.
Sadly, as we have seen, this is not the case for fully one-third of Americans.
This is an S.O.S. – a distress signal to those 33% of Americans who have drifted off-course and into shark-infested waters. If you make less than $386,000 a year and you oppose raising taxes on the wealthy, oppose holding Wall Street executives accountable for their reckless endangerment, or oppose greater regulation of Wall Street banks, then my friend, it’s time for a gut-check because you have been hoodwinked!
I’m usually reserved in discussing politics with friends and family, because I understand that you cannot change people’s core values and it’s these core values that largely drive their opinions and hence their votes. But when it comes to income inequality in America, conservative and liberal, black and white, man and woman, we’re all in the same boat. We all share a similar stake, and consequently we all must work to be united. My hope is to win back some of our own who have been left behind economically, and yet somehow have gone over to the other side in support of the very people who work to enrich themselves at literally any and all cost to you and I.