Mind the Gap: We’re all Skewed Up
The video that our class watched on Monday was a shocking wake-up call to the enormous wealth disparity in the U.S. There is a large gap between perception and reality of who holds certain amounts of the nation’s capital, but the gap between the ideal and reality is even more unsettling. My reaction to the video was simple: this is sad. It definitely is for the bottom 80% of Americans who control a mere 7% of the country’s wealth. Maybe it isn’t sad for the top 1% of Americans who control 40% of the country’s wealth in the sense that money will allow them to make extravagant investments towards their perception of happiness. However, there is a sadness to the reality of their situations, believing that their lives and time on earth are worth more than their lower-class counterparts.
This issue is so complicated and messy that I’m not even sure how to phrase the rush of disappointment and discouragement I feel after seeing that manifestation of stark imbalance. Money is the ultimate motivator. It breeds innovation and entrepreneurship. It incentivizes Americans to work hard. But is it realistic to go from the bottom 20% to the top 1% in one lifetime? Is the perception of the American Dream causing citizens to become prematurely burnt out and prone to giving up? Is it leading more people to become optimists, pessimists, or skeptics? Is the American Dream even possible to achieve? The more I learn about economic inequality, the more I’m certain that it’s one of (if not the) most pressing issue in the U.S. today. Yet, the more I uncover about the topic, the more disheartened and confused I become. I want to believe that our economy is capable of changing in favor of the majority of the population. According to the video, 92% of people desire a more equal America that remains capitalist in nature but one in which hardly anyone is below the poverty line. So if that many people are proponents of change, then why haven’t we seen any development towards an economic equilibrium? Is it because the same people who dominate the country’s wealth also control the nation’s voice? And since things are probably looking pretty good in their eyes, why would they want to interfere with a system that benefits them? So before we can tip the scale and attempt to level the playing field, we have to act fast to let our voices be heard before it’s too late. Before the rich get richer, drowning out the voices of the other 80-99% with their flowing cash and choking them with chains of gold.