Can Inequality in America Get Any Worse?


PBS Frontline has a special airing on Tuesday night (7/9/13) on our growing inequality issues.  Check out the trailer for that program.  More on this below the fold.

I encourage you to watch that program and if you feel so inclined, I’ve linked out to a handful of related articles below.

Losing Our Way

It seems we’ve allowed ourselves to fall into a reverse Robin Hood economic mess and we need to better inform ourselves if we’re going to pull ourselves out of it. (And that’s to say nothing to of the growing challenges of resource constraints which further complicate matters.)  The chart below shows the trend of our Gini Coefficient over the past four plus decades.

The Gini Coefficient is a relative measure of equality/inequality in which zero would represent perfect equality in which all citizens were financial equals and a Gini score of 1 would represent a country in which all the money was held by a single person.  Scores tend to fall between .25 and .60 for countries which report scores.

As you can see, there are countries that have it worse than the U.S., but we’ve made up a lot of ground on them in recent years.

I believe that fabric of society is held together by a human relationships and the commonly held belief that the systems which are in place are fair and just.  The figures above tell me those things are headed out the window, if they haven’t already left.

The foundation of this country, the thing that made us the envy of much of the world, was the promise of the American Dream.  The idea that anyone could improve their lot in life by working hard, following the rules, and persisting through adversity.  In a fair and just system with opportunities, those virtues seem well placed, but in a system that does not reward those, toeing the line seems less virtuous and more obedient.

The things I might have expected to teach my kids to value, seem less important than they once did.

“Follow the rules.”

“Be patient.”

“You should be happy you have…”

The list goes on.

So much of what our predecessors taught us seems more geared to keeping us under a thumb rather than making us valued and valuable people.  Given the results, maybe we should worry less about teaching our kids to follow the rules and more about being free thinkers who can give the world a nudge towards a better direction?

As goes the American worker, so goes America.

Back to the question in the title.  Can it get any worse?

Answer:  A whole lot.

If we let it.

Further reading:

The New Yorker: The Fall of the American Worker
Zero Hedge: 15 Signs That The Quality Of Jobs In America Is Fading Fast
CNBC: State of the American Dream Is Uncertain
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The Friday Night Music Blogging Zenith?


David Roberts of Grist puts together a highly anticipated mix tape around the holidays that shares his favorite songs from the year. The 2012 selections were no disappointment.
Tonight’s track comes from side 2 of that mix. (Here’s the link for side 1.)

It’s a lovely song, and the words, the words, the words…

Here’s Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert in “SAME LOVE.”

(I recommend listening once and then re-winding for a sing along.)

Same Love

When I was in the 3rd grade

I thought that I was gay
Cause I could draw, my uncle was
And I kept my room straight
I told my mom, tears rushing down my face
She’s like, “Ben you’ve loved girls since before pre-K”
Trippin’, yeah, I guess she had a point, didn’t she
A bunch of stereotypes all in my head
I remember doing the math like
“Yeah, I’m good a little league”
A pre-conceived idea of what it all meant
For those that like the same sex had the characteristics
The right-wing conservatives think it’s a decision
And you can be cured with some treatment and religion
Man-made, rewiring of a pre-disposition
Playing God
Ahh nah, here we go
America the brave
Still fears what we don’t know
And God loves all his children it’s somehow forgotten
But we paraphrase a book written
3,500 years ago
I don’t know

And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
My love, my love, my love
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm

If I was gay
I would think hip-hop hates me
Have you read the YouTube comments lately
“Man that’s gay”
Gets dropped on the daily
We’ve become so numb to what we’re sayin’
Our culture founded from oppression
Yet we don’t have acceptance for ’em
Call each other faggots
Behind the keys of a message board
A word rooted in hate
Yet our genre still ignores it
Gay is synonymous with the lesser
It’s the same hate that’s caused wars from religion
Gender to skin color
Complexion of your pigment
The same fight that lead people to walk-outs and sit-ins
Human rights for everybody
There is no difference
Live on! And be yourself!
When I was in church
They taught me something else
If you preach hate at the service
Those words aren’t anointed
And that Holy Water
That you soak in
Is then poisoned
When everyone else
Is more comfortable
Remaining voiceless
Rather than fighting for humans
That have had their rights stolen
I might not be the same
But that’s not important
No freedom ’til we’re equal
Damn right I support it

I don’t know

We press play
Don’t press pause
Progress, march on!
With a veil over our eyes
We turn our back on the cause
‘Till the day
That my uncles can be united by law
Kids are walkin’ around the hallway
Plagued by pain in their heart
A world so hateful
Some would rather die
Than be who they are
And a certificate on paper
Isn’t gonna solve it all
But it’s a damn good place to start
No law’s gonna change us
We have to change us
Whatever god you believe in
We come from the same one
Strip away the fear
Underneath it’s all the same love
About time that we raised up

Love is patient, love is kind
Love is patient (not cryin’ on Sundays)
Love is kind (not crying on Sundays)
Love is kind (not crying on Sundays)
Love is kind (not crying on Sundays)
Love is kind (not crying on Sundays)
Love is kind (not crying on Sundays)