Lily C. Michigan

Unequal Wealth Distribution

The wealth gap is widening leaving the poor in worse condition and the wealthy in better condition.

Dear Future President,

America was founded on the ideals of democracy, rights, liberty, opportunity, and equality. The Founding Fathers had an idealistic view of what they wanted the country to become. Now, 240 years later, the country has strayed from these ideals. The law and the economy have not treated every person equally. First amendment rights and civil liberties are being denied to millions of young people and minorities. Incorporated in the inequalities are economic injustices for minorities. The increasingly unequal wealth distribution has created stark contrasts between the social classes. Money has begun to divide us in more ways than one including infringement on our founding ideals. Statistics support discrepancies between people dealing with poverty and people who are very wealthy.

To begin, people living with very little have a different style of life than the middle class. While middle and upper classes can have luxuries, lower socioeconomic classes cannot. The need for basic shelter and food are a constant struggle for people lacking money. People under the poverty line struggle to survive on what they have and earn every day. The problem is--the cycle continues. People in poverty stay in poverty and the wealthy stay in power. This is evident in the education system after high school. If a low-income person receives a degree, it does not give them a huge advantage in the workplace and most of the time, the degree is from a lower-level college. In college, students make connections to high-status individuals for potential job opportunities. Impoverished children do not have the chance to make those connections that wealthier children can. Opportunities based on wealth keep this cycle going. The economic classes are divided rigidly with an exponential curve toward the millionaires. The cycle could be broken more often if the wealth was distributed more equally.

An overarching statistic shows much of the people in poverty living in the southern part of the United States. Having lived in Flint, Michigan has changed my perspective on where poverty lies. When I was younger, I would see people on the streets begging for money at local drug stores or grocery stores. Poverty is not as far away as we think--it hits home. The poverty rate for the country in 2015 was 13.5%. This means that about 1 ½ out of 10 people are living in poverty translating to over 43 million people in the United States. Blacks and Hispanics have the highest poverty rates around 25% compared to 10% Non-Hispanic Whites. Even within poverty, races are defined. The statistics reinforce the lack of equality for all races and ethnicities. The wealth gap not only divides lifestyle but races too. This is not to say that exceptions are not possible. 24% of US millionaires are Non-White and this has increased over the years, but it is still a far cry from the races being remotely equal. The other 76% of US millionaires are White, while 90% of people in poverty are not White. Discrimination among minorities still exists clearly shown through the wealth inequalities.

Some worked-their-way-up capitalists would suggest that the poor class is just not working hard enough. On one hand, the capitalists argue that drug addicts or people with family problems live on the streets. On the other hand, some contend that many disabled people are in poverty just because they can’t work. Others even maintain that the poor are liars who are too lazy to get a real job. My view differs slightly from all three. The statistics display the wide variety of people in poverty. They range from veterans or people with disabilities to the person who is working two jobs but got laid off. It has become common today to honor our veterans and Americans would not say that they didn’t work hard enough. Physically disabled people also have the minds to do great things in ways other than hard, physical work. The person who has worked tirelessly to support their family and their government has failed them is not a person to disrespect. The top five causes of poverty in America are economy, affordable housing, drug usage, lack of education, and medical expenses. Although drug usage is within the top five, the other reasons could be avoided with law reforms. The reasons show that people in poverty are not in poverty based on their work ethic. They are in poverty because of inequalities of race, education, and a poor economy. The poor economy is to blame for the wealthy becoming wealthier and the poor becoming poorer. The wealth gap is a problem that cannot be fixed without the involvement of the government.

Unequal wealth distribution does not only exist in the United States but is more prominent in other countries. Our country tries to alleviate this gap by slowly raising the minimum wage and implementing higher taxes on the wealth. Even with all the government aid, the problem has not stopped. It has grown since the 1970’s and will keep growing unless we take precautions to stop it. The top 1% in the United States hold 40% of all the wealth in the country. The bottom 80% only own 7% of the nation’s wealth. This is not enough to live modestly on. The government needs to take more action to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor. The poor could gain more money for their work and politicians could persuade the wealthy to distribute their wealth differently. These people have the money and power to make changes in the way our society lives. As the new President of the United States of America, I urge you to set new economic reforms to decrease the wealth gap. This will help our country grow as we provide for all of our citizens. The decrease in poverty means less lifestyle and racial differences as well. The unjust wealth distribution is not an issue to ignore.

Respectfully yours,

Lily C