From the richest few to the poorest millions. The United States has been in a crisis of wealth imbalance for decades. Some may believe that is a natural phenomenon, with the most civilized places being plastered with large wealth gaps. But recently the wealth gap and poverty rates in the United States has dramatically started to increase because of the government that favours the wealthy’s interests which in return restricts the lower income citizens.
These manipulations of the governments has had devastating effects on the low income people of United States.
United States’ wealth gap has been growing profusely in the recent years. After the end of War World II, the United States showed a great economic growth and shared prosperity. But in the 1970’s the growth slowed and the wealth gap started to widen, and ever since then, the wealth gap has almost risen exponentially.
According to charts by Urban Institute, a website for social and economic research. It shows that families from the bottom of wealth distribution went from no wealth to about $1000 in debt. While top families of the wealth distribution received nearly ten times the amount from the first record from 1965, at ten million.
It was also concluded on a 2014 report by The Washington Times that the “top wealthiest 1% possess 40% of the nation’s wealth; the bottom 80% own 7%.” The wealth of the richest one percent accounts more than that of the other 90 percent residing in the United States. With the nation’s wealth being hoarded by the rich, it has had some appalling effects on the less wealthy people of the United States.
The United States is deviating away from its democratic morals and turning into a plutonomy. Where the poor are continually exploited by the wealthiest and money is heard louder in the government than voices. One example of corrupt government regulation of wealth are the specific lobbying groups that doesn’t act in the best interest of the common folks. U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is the second largest lobbying group, last year they donated approximately $59 million.
On the website of U.S. Chamber of Commerce they claim to represent “the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions. Our members range from mom-and-pop shops and local chambers…” But in recent studies it was shown that U.S. Chamber of Commerce favours certain businesses over another. Those businesses are tobacco, fossil fuel, and banking industries. Addictive products such as Tobacco are largely supported by large companies, and are targeted and sold more against the poorer communities. It is said that 72% of the U.S. smokers are from the lower income communities.
Again we see that the poor are exploited for the interest of the wealthy, and the government permits such action. Moreover another action that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce took was a lobbying against paid sick leave of Wisconsin. When 70% of Milwaukee voters voted to pass the sick leave referendum in 2008. The U.S Chamber of Commerce and the National Restaurant Association lobbied Scott Walker, a GOP member who was elected Wisconsin governor in 2011, to overturn the votes.
Walker passed a bill that completely diminished the referendum, and ensure that no local government powers in Wisconsin can lawfully enforce paid sick leave. The rights and voices of workers were erased by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Restaurant Association by a simple bribery. Without sick leave workers are put in a situation where they jeopardize their financial situation and job over something they cannot control, widening the wealth gap further.
The U.S. has seen an increase of poverty and homelessness in the recent years, even though the nations overall wealth has grown significantly. The nation’s homeless population has increased in the past year of 2017. Climbing to about 554,000 people across the country, and according to many the cause of this upsurge is the inflation of rents and housing. Those with low paying jobs can not afford to pay any more. They also tend to lack other necessary resources such as food, clothes, medical treatments, and shelters. Furthermore, It is not only the low income population that is affected by the recent trend.
The middle class, the biggest class population of the U.S., has been hit also. It was reported in an article by Observer that a third of the middle class couldn’t even pay bills for basics such as “rent, transportation, childcare, and medical expenses”. Some may say that all they need to do is obtain a higher paying job. But there we encounter another problem, to receive a higher paying job, you require an higher education. And the fees for schooling are hard to pay unless you are already on high standings.
And many poorer students who are unable to afford higher education, are forced student loans. Which they carry out for almost ten to twenty years due to the heavy interest rates the student loans has. Personally, for myself who is a high school student and is thinking of college, but come from the lower end of the middle class. It astonishes me and at the same time terrifies me that in the near future I could face financial crisis due to the fact that I need higher education to support myself. The affordability of life in the U.S. is becoming difficult.
One tool the wealthy utilizes to exploit the poor is creating divisions. One example is the dispute over whether to build the wall along the Mexico-United States border to keep out illegal immigrants. And another one that has long been in action is conflict between different races. These obstacles keep us from focusing on true problems. Even though we face the same problem, poverty. So in the end this is not a problem we can fix in an instant. It will take years and years of uncoiling. But it does not mean all we can do is wait. We can work hard to understand and cooperate with each other so that someday wealth distribution equality can be reached.. And someday everyone can receive a fair and equal life.