grace Michigan

A Growing Gap

Analyzing the wealth gap of America, and defining what it truly means, and what we can do to reverse its growing trend.

Dear Mr./Mrs. President,

The issue regarding our nation's wealth gap is high up on the list of economical threats to our country. Please allow me to voice my viewpoint regarding this preponderant issue. To begin, I feel it is important to just look at the basic numbers that reflect a crisis of a disappearing middle class. Roughly 45 million people in the United States are living in poverty. The top .01% of Americans have almost as much wealth that the bottom 90% have. In other words. 3,190,000 “wealthy elites” have nearly as much money as 287,100,000 standard middle to lower class people. What exactly do these unbalanced statistics mean for our nation? What do these numbers mean for our future?

The issue of wealth inequality is clear; we have a disappearing middle class- now accounting for less than half the population- that is decreasing the flow of the economy. We have all heard these words, but I fear that the majority of the population doesn’t understand what this truly means. A disappearing middle class means slowed economic expansion, less access to education and a less educated population, less job opportunities, less voters and political supporters, and a dramatic increase in poverty. It has become common today to dismiss these individual effects as “the media publicize(s) what is happening to the.... ‘top one percent-’ rather than what is happening to individual people.” (1) The effects of an increasing wealth gap are serious, and can only be reversed if we take dramatic action.

Considering that the middle class is no longer the bulk of the American population, I think it is important that we first focus on the majority; lower class citizens. The median household income in the United States is roughly $52,000. The cost to simply get by with the bare minimum is $28,000 per person, per year. The average family size consists of 2 adults and 2 children, costing $112,000 to survive. This is why poverty rates are increasing; wages are staying the same for average Americans, but the cost to live is increasing. On the opposite end of the spectrum are the ‘wealthy elites,’ who have an exponentially increasing salary. Over a course of 40 years, the population towards the lower end of the spectrum have acquired $2,000 in debt, while the families at the higher end of the spectrum, “saw their wealth grow sixfold over the same period” (2). This means increased poverty rates as the middle class diminishes, along with less education, and even voters/political supporters, a group primarily made up of middle class citizens. It is these issues that must be resolved, and it takes more than simply focusing on a single statistic regarding the top .01%.

I feel that simply stating the potential national wounds that a decreasing middle class poses doesn’t do the wealth gap issue justice. Poverty is more than a word along with images of hunger and homelessness. Impoverished individuals in the United States have an average annual salary of $11,770, and each additional individual in the family brings in a mere average of $4,160 in government aid. When the cost for a single individual to live is more than double this number, living at or below the national poverty line is simple unattainable. It is not an option to aid those in poverty and redistribute our nation's wealth to restore the middle class; it is a necessity.

What is a viable solution to shrink the wealth gap and restore the middle class? Taxing the wealthy is definitely going to close the gap, but it isn’t a long term resolve. The issue is that much of America is under-educated on saving and money management. It needs to be stressed how to save money- it sounds fatuous, but is the solution to keeping the wealth gap closed permanently. Raising taxes proportionately in regards to annual salary will balance the gap and help restore the middle class initially, but proper money management is what will keep the gap small. While initiating wealth taxes in order to restore the middle class is a highly controversial issue, the benefits outway the negatives. For instance, if we simply leave the tax system as it currently is, major issues will arise. Economists have linked the wealth differences to a contributing factor of the Wall Street Crash in 1929. If we introduce a wealth tax, economic recessions due to a wealth gap can be prevented. Those in opposition to taxing the wealthy bring up the point that raised taxes will be a disincentive for businesses and business owners, which would also decrease economic flow. However, the decrease from implementing the tax will be a mere fraction of the current state we are in and headed for if we don’t make adjustments soon.

At this point you may be wondering, ‘How are we going to educate the entire public on proper money management?’ Starting young is key; schools need to stress money management throughout a child’s education, and specific courses need to be required at the highschool level that emphasize the importance of saving. As for the current adult population, publications in popular media, news stories, and other public forms of communication need to address the importance of proper money management techniques and saving.

Please realize that a middle class is the driving force of our nation, and without it, many issues are to come. We must act now to prevent further damage and widening of the wealth gap. We must initiate and educate our way to a more economically successful future. It’s not just a number and percent statistics- it’s a whole spectrum of economic issues to come.

Works Cited

Diem, Carpe. "In Response to the Viral ‘Wealth Inequality in America’ Video." N.p., 21 Apr. 2013. Web. 25 Oct. 2016.

@oxfamamerica. "CBS Money Watch: The Corrosive Impact of America's Growing Wealth Gap." Oxfam America. N.p., 2016. Web. 25 Oct. 2016. 

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