We must cure the record income inequality if we are to re-unite the United States into a country that serves Americans in both red and blue states.
The current disunity is a result of whole swaths of the country losing out on economic opportunity. Our modern, tech-based capitalism has raced ahead, rewarding those that can keep up.
The wealth is distributed in a highly unequal fashion, says the Center for Equitable Growth, a progressive think tank, with the wealthiest 1 percent of families in the United States holding about 40 percent of all wealth and the bottom 90 percent of families holding less than one-quarter of all wealth.
The result has been that the top 20 percent of America’s educated class are winning the race with educational opportunities that have enabled them to take advantage of modern technologies.
And what happens to people who feel left behind—in education, good jobs, and adequate housing? They find a way to protest, and Donald Trump became their voice of protest.
They protest against immigrants because they believe their jobs have been stolen. They protest against open borders because they see those jobs fleeing to other countries with cheaper wages.
They are so angry they will believe any theory confirming their suspicions that the educated elites with the best jobs are abridging their freedoms.
That is why President Biden’s plan to return US to full employment by the end of 2022 is so important.
The just passed $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan will boost benefits of lower and middle income consumers, raising incomes for the poorest 20 percent of families by an average of 20 percent, according to the Tax Policy Center's analysis, and create 7 million jobs by the end of 2021 while top earners would see their income rise less than 1 percent, according to the CBO.
The proposed $2 trillion plus infrastructure bill will create more good jobs by requiring the development of universal broadband, such as 5G networks that China is already building on a grand scale, a major issue in rural communities.
Documents suggest it will also include nearly $1 trillion in spending on the construction of roads, bridges, rail lines, ports, electric vehicle charging stations, and improvements to the electric grid and other parts of the power sector, all requiring higher paying jobs.
“I think a package that consists of investments in people, investments in infrastructure, will help to create good jobs in the American economy,” testified Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in congressional hearings recently, “and changes in the tax structure will help to pay for those programs (and also reduce income inequality).”
The investments in people is even more important to lift the spirits of the 13 million that still have no jobs or would like full time jobs, including greater access to Obamacare and Medicaid, aid that the Trump administration had been drastically reducing.
Bringing back trust in government will do the most to boost public spirits. And that means spending on programs that make life easier for most Americans.
There is no easy path to a greater equality of opportunity in the richest country in the world, because we must first restore our faith in each other with programs that benefit all Americans.
Harlan Green © 2021
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