Think about the recent statistic on inequality that the top 400 richest Americans have more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans combined. How do you think this happened, and what is your position on this?
The income inequality in the United States can be considered as a result of the ineffective economic policies that were implemented in the country during the period of the 1970s-1980s, as it is stated by Professor Robert Reich (Reich presentation, February 05, 2015). In Inequality for All, a 2013 documentary discussing a challenging economic topic, Prof. Reich states that the extreme income inequality observed today is a result of the economic policies that rejected the idea of putting “people first” in the 1970s (“Inequality for All” 2013).
As a result, in the 2000s, the U.S. middle class had to adapt to new economic realities, and workers had to survive because of the significant economic gap between the top and middle classes. From this point, the remarkable economic inequality in the United States is a consequence of the policies, according to which the value of the market economy was placed higher than the value of the ordinary man’s work.
Although the situation when 400 richest Americans have more resources than the other 150 million Americans is an illustration for the development of a capitalist or market economy, it is impossible to ignore the fact that the observed gap cannot be a normal result of the effective economic policies (“Inequality for All” 2013). The problem is in false priorities when the needs of the market and tops are satisfied in the first turn and the needs of the middle class are almost ignored.
Prof. Reich notes that it is necessary for the government to invest in people in order to promote the growth of their skills and further prosperity (Reich presentation, February 05, 2015). However, the leaders of the United States chose another path, and they focused on investing in the development of the free market that became a barrier for ordinary people to become richer.
Today, the middle class is frustrated because of becoming more vulnerable and because of the constantly increasing gap in the income between the tops and other employees. According to Prof. Reich, the economic boom in the 1970s was not supported by the focus on providing more people with the access to the higher education or with the opportunity to join labor unions (“Inequality for All” 2013). The fees associated with higher education became an obstacle for receiving skills and knowledge.
Furthermore, the labor market also developed according to the principles of the free market, and fewer people had opportunities to address the constantly increasing prices and costs (Reich presentation, February 05, 2015). From this point, the causes of the income inequality are the concentration on the needs of corporations as main actors of the market when the role of the workers and their education in developing the economy is diminished.
In spite of the fact that the situation associated with the income inequality in the United States is critical, it is still possible to respond to the recommendations and ideas provided by Prof. Reich who insists on investing into people rather than in corporations.
However, although the proposed path is quite simple, the government can continue focusing on the needs of the free market as the quickest way to achieve the economic gains in certain sectors. The problem is in the fact that in this case, the economic situation in the whole country worsens because of the inability of the middle class to adapt to the constantly rising costs.
Inequality for All. 2013.
Reich, Robert. “Inequality for All”. UC Irvine School of Social Ecology. Irvine, California. 05 Feb. 2015. Lecture.