By State Representative, Leon D. Young
President Barack Obama is scheduled to deliver his annual State of the Union Address this week.
It’s speculated that the topic of income inequality will be one of the hot-button issues that he addresses in his speech.
According to President Obama, Pope Francis and many others, “Income inequality is the defining issue of our time.”
This rampant disparity has been completely unearthed in the latest report by Oxfam International.
(Oxfam International is an international confederation of 17 organizations working in approximately 90 countries worldwide to find solutions to poverty and related injustice around the world.)
The empirical evidence of Oxfam’s report is nothing short of mindboggling.
Here’s some statistical data from Oxfam’s report to consider:
• World’s 85 richest people have the same wealth as the bottom 50 percent – that means about seven dozen people (the number of people it would take to crowd one subway car) have as much of the world wealth as 3.5 billion people put together.
• The richest 1 percent own 46 percent of the world’s total wealth.
• Richest 1 percent own a combined $110 trillion, or 46 percent of the world’s wealth.
That’s 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the world’s population.
• In the U.S., the wealthiest one percent captured 95 percent of post-financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent became poorer.
• The percentage of income held by the richest 1 percent in the U.S. has grown nearly 150 percent since 1980, as compared to the income for average Americans which has either been flat or lost income.
In truth, there has always been an enormous income disparity between the world’s richest people and those individuals who live in abject poverty in developing and undeveloped countries.
The new threat of income inequality is the impact that it is having on developed economies, in which income gap between the very rich and the working and middle class in those nations continue to widen.
Upward mobility has always been a quintessential element of the American Dream.
The belief was if you work hard, you can do better than your parents.
But, in truth, that’s no longer the case.
Because of the shocking income disparities in this country, coupled with non-sustainable wages, the able of most people to achieve middle-class has disappeared.
In fact, the middle-tier (of wage earners) in developed economies is not advancing very much.
All too often the debate surrounding income inequality centers on either the need to tax the very rich or the need to provide greater educational opportunities.
But, if people are going to make any inroads into reversing this income discrepancy, workers must be paid a decent, livable wage that expands the middle-class and makes economic opportunities possible.