Income Inequality Needs to Be Addressed by All


by Tiffany Van Volkinburg

Income inequality is an increasing problem in America. Still, over the past few decades the gap between the wealthy and the poor has greatly increased. A cliché—maybe—but a reality that is front and center, smacking the majority of Americans in the face—or wallet.

The gap between the wealthiest among us and the poorest has reached an all-time high. As told by The Huffington Post, the top-earning 20 percent of Americans–those making more than $100,000 a year–received 49.4 percent of the total American income compared to the 3.4 percent earned by the bottom 20 percent of American earners. If one were to truly think this over, approximately half of the total income generated in America is held by one-fifth of the population.

So where does that leave the rest of us? Well, the large 80 percent of the population is now left to divvy up the other 50 percent.

It may not come as a shock, but as shown by Professor G. William Domhoff, from the University of California at Santa Cruz, the growing wealth gap in America has significantly affected minorities. In 2007, the data showed the average white household having 15 times the total wealth of the average African-American or Latino household. Furthermore, if home equity was removed from the calculations, the ratios reflected a much larger 100:1 in comparison. Is this a problem that desperately needs to be confronted, or a lack of effort from the poor? There is always “The American Dream” right?

“The American Dream,” mentioned so often in society, is the perfect solution to the problem though. Wrong! This elusive dream is one that feeds the idea that anyone can make it big in the world if they simply work hard enough to get to the top. This false sense of hope is what I believe to be the subconscious fuel that feeds the fire behind people’s will to keep fighting the uphill battle with money–or the lack there of–in America. However, as seen earlier, no one-except the rich–is getting any closer to obtaining this sought after wealth. Therefore, what we have occurring is a cycle where the rich are basically recreating and reinforcing the rich-further widening the quickly expanding gap between the elite and the common.

The most outrageous part is the thought that everyone has an equal opportunity to be successful. While, essentially, this should be fundamentally accurate, the truth of the matter is that equal opportunity does not exist–nor has it ever existed–in America. If you really stopped to think about the problems of the poor, how much of an opportunity do they actually have? They attend underfunded schools, receive inadequate educations, and are under prepared for college-for those who make it to college. And what about those who go straight from school to the work force. It’s difficult to advance when living on minimum wage from paycheck to pay check.

So, now the question of what—if anything—can be done to lessen this vast gap—or at least stop it from expanding—presents itself? Well, the masses must first become informed on the problem. One cannot defeat something they do not realize they are battling. All I really know is that if this gap of inequality continues to expand, the repercussions will be catastrophic without much in place to save it from spiraling out of control.