Wealth Inequality and its Impact on Society Life in present-day America is very unequal. There are wide gaps in income distribution which causes negative impacts on the everyday lives of most Americans. This income gap is wider than at any other time in the past century. The United States has the largest gap between rich and poor than any other democratic country in the world. Income inequality has negative effects on the entire society. American minority groups and women earn less money than their white counterparts. The educational system in the country is suffering ranking fourteenth among ndustrialized nations.
Research shows that the wealthier a person is the longer their lifespan will be. Increased crime rates in the poorer inner cities affect the entire country. Americans are challenged by rising debt. Young people are pessimistic about their future and social mobility as the economy seems to benefit corporations and Wall Street speculators and businessmen. As households struggle to meet their financial obligations it can cause tremendous stress on the family unit. Many marriages end in divorce leaving the spouses and children feeling alienated and depressed.
This growing wealth inequality n America doesn’t seem to be subsiding any time soon. The problems it causes in society will be the focus of this paper. In his Second Inaugural Address in January 1937 U. S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt summed up the nation’s inequality problems and “the forgotten man” But here is the challenge to our democracy: In this nation I see tens of millions of its citizens -a substantial part of its whole population-who at this very moment are denied the greater part of what the very lowest standards of today call the necessities of life ..
I see millions of families trying to live on incomes so meager that the pall of amily disaster hangs over them day by day … I see millions denied education, recreation, and the opportunity to better their lot and the lot of their children .. I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished … The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little (Franklin D. Roosevelt, Second Inaugural Address) A brief description of the wealth gap in the United States would be helpful at this point.
The online magazine The Huffington Post states that the top twenty billionaires in America have more wealth combined than more than half of the U. S. population. It also states that the richest 100 households in the U. S. have more combined wealth than the entire African- American population in the United States. Donald Trump, republican candidate for the American presidency has a net worth of well over five billion dollars. According to glassdoor. com n. d. the CEO of Starbucks makes close to 22,000,000 a year in salary while a worker in one of his stores averages $22,000 a year.
The CEO of Walt Disney Company’s earns close to $47,000,000 annually while the average worker in his company makes $80,000 a year. These are just two examples of the numerous companies in the United States which have similar disparity in company pay. This gap in pay has a negative impact on American society. corporations often have more political power than people of low-income. With this power they are able to maintain control over political policy decisions that are advantageous to them.
They can hire Political Action Committees (PACS) to influence politicians to work on issues that are important to them. Wealthy people have enough money to run for political office and can qualify for government matching grants, known as campaign financing, for their campaigns. This often leads to corruption, white-collar crime and illegal activities. This can create an imbalance in political representation between the higher and lower economic classes. This often results in distrust Wealthy people and of all politicians by the American lower classes.
Gerhard Casper in his book Landmark Briefs and Arguments of the Supreme Court of the United States discusses the Supreme Court Case “Davis v. Federal Election Commission” 2008 where Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens adds his opinion on wealth and the political process in the United States: Minimizing the effect of concentrated wealth on our political rocess, and the concomitant interest in addressing the dangers that attend the perception that political power can be purchased, are, therefore, sufficiently weighty objectives to justify significant congressional action ..
In light of that clear truth, Congress’ carefully crafted attempt to reduce the distinct advantages enjoyed by wealthy candidates for congressional office does not offend the First Amendment (Casper, 538) The American educational system is in serious decline. Recent surveys show that the American educational system ranks at the bottom of the scale in comparison to other developed countries n the world even though Americans pay more to educate their children than other developed countries.
Citizens pay taxes for the public education of their children expecting a quality education. The government is failing in its obligation to educate its children and prepare them for future success. The disparity between rich and poor, black and white students is an indication that the system is not working for all citizens. The 1954 Supreme Court case Brown vs Board of Education declared segregation in the school system illegal.
It outlawed the “separate but equal” doctrine that had been in effect since 1896 in the country. From his book Understanding the Constitution Constantinos Scaros provides an excerpt from the court decision which explains their rationale: Does segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race .. deprive the children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities? We believe that it does..
To separate them from others of similar age and qualifications solely because of their race generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone (Sacros, 219) There are many causes and factors which contribute to this chievement gap in the educational system. Economic inequality is one of the major factors. Bush passed into law “The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001”. This law was intended to bring a quality education to disadvantaged children living in poor conditions.
The law requires that school systems around the country provide basic educational skills and to set high standards in the education of impoverished students in their systems. The law required that more quality teachers be hired. This law has been the focus of much controversy. The federal government has often failed to provide the states and school systems adequate funding to mplement the law. Just this year President Obama passed into law the “Every Student Succeeds Act” which replaces the “No Child Left Behind Act”.
Obama said he is following President Johnson’s “War on Poverty” 1964. Johnson passed into law the “Elementary and Secondary Education Act” (ESEA) which has become one of the most influential pieces of legislation affecting education in the United States. The law provides for equal access to education to all children regardless of their economic background. These laws have made some impact on education in the United States, but education is still a President George W. ontroversial issue affecting the nation.
Toward ending segregation in the United States, particularly in its educational system, has not ended the social and economic isolation felt by minority groups and persons on the lower end of the socioec The progress made omic scale. Many of America’s large cities are segregated along ethnic lines still today. In these larger metropolitan cities economic opportunities are not as vast as they are in more affluent communities. The educational levels of the parents are often the best predictors of social and economical status in society. Many lower income parents are eenagers themselves with little high school education.
This inequality has devastating effects on the tax paying citizens and their families who live in the segregated areas. Families are very important in the development of children and the school system plays a vital role in preparing children for future success in life. Children from low income communities often go to school hungry. Many school systems provide free breakfast for students whose families show financial need. Research shows that students who come from more financially stable families do better on tests and graduation rates