Social inequality refers to the difference in the quality of life experienced by different people in the same community, usually between the rich and poor. Continued experience with this inequality leads to the establishment of class structures or social stratification. America is a prime example of such a society. Indeed, it is not hard to see that there are people who have so much wealth and receive big incomes, whereas others have too little wealth and receive close-to-non-income.
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Is the U.S. truly the land of equality?
Despite the example mentioned above, it would be erroneous to classify America as a truly unequal society. This is because it has been in the American tradition to reduce the gap between its rich and poor. Indeed, American society provides equal opportunities for members of different structures to increase their wealth so they can all be better off. This scenario makes America a true land of quality; which is achieved through the provision of an enabling environment. As a result, poor people in America have a higher chance of climbing the class ladder than their counterparts in other parts of the world (The Economist, 2006).
The reason, the American society has been concentrating on increasing its economic productivity as a way of helping its poor escape poverty. Contrary other countries, including the rich ones in Europe, have concentrated on taking wealth from the rich through higher taxation as a way of helping their poor. Also, it is noticeable that American poor have been getting into better lives than their counterparts in other parts of the world; the rich have been getting richer. On the other hand, the rich in other parts of the world have seen their wealth rise slightly remain stagnant whereas the poor see their plights stay the same. This is despite the efforts made by respective governments to reduce the gap between the two groups.
Inequality in America Today
Recent reports indicate that national wealth going to the richest one percent increased from eight percent in 1980 to sixteen percent in 2004, whereas the percentage of national wealth going to the poor one percent increased by a slimmer margin (NPR, 2007). This has been taken by many people to mean that America’s wealthy have been taking the entire national income home, whereas the poorer are getting even more destitute. But this is an utter exaggeration because it can easily be established that America’s poor have been experiencing better lives at a higher rate than their European counterparts; this is indicated by fact of increased home and motor vehicle ownership, education attainment, and the overall quality of life (NPR, 2007). The rising gap between the rich and poor in America is making many people claim that American inequality is increasing rapidly. However, critics are ignoring the fact the productivity of American society has resulted in rising living standards for all citizens.
The United States, therefore, serves as a society that is unequal but is applying the necessary measures to ensure that the gap between the rich and poor is bleached through methods that will leave all groups better-off. This method is none other than rooting for economic growth that provides opportunities to all in society. Other countries in the world, especially those in Europe have some lessons to learn from America, failure of which will lead to exacerbation of their inequality crisis.
The Economist (2006). America Inequality. Web.
Berliner, U. (2007). Haves and Have-Nots. Web.