We live in a world where celebrities wear $350,000 watches and nobody thinks of it.
We live in a world where a billionaire parked his $590-million yacht off our Maine island during a pandemic and people mostly shrugged and said, “That’s cool.”
But is it?
“I currently feel like there’s tremendous injustice in this society,” Alexandra Korry said in her final interview before her death from ovarian cancer. “There is ridiculous inequality between the rich and everybody else. And we all have an obligation to do something about it.”
But mostly we just gawp at it. Or most of us do.
We watch Kardashians.
We long for expensive watches and yachts, second and third homes when many people don’t have first homes.
And the gap between the income levels in the U.S. is growing and growing.
I grew up poor even though my older brother and sister grew up middle class. We had credit card companies calling every day. My poor mom would weep about money, struggling to hang on sometimes. My sister and brother didn’t know this or live this and I’m so glad for them.
I have slept in an apartment where the ceiling was caving in and it sucked, honestly.
And I spend a lot of my time trying to make sure that I’m never back in that place. And I spend a lot of my time worrying that I will.
I’m not alone. More and more people are living that fear right now. Living it.
In 2019, the top 20% of the population earned 51.9% of all U.S. income.3 Their average household income was $254,449. The richest of the rich, the top 5%, earned 23% of all income. Their average household income was $451,122.
The bottom 20% only earned 3.1% of the nation’s income. The lower earner’s average household income was $15,286.4
Most low-wage workers receive no health insurance, sick days, or pension plans from their employers. They can’t get ill and have no hope of retiring. That creates health care inequality, which increases the cost of medical care for everyone. Also, people who can’t afford preventive care will wind up in the hospital emergency room. In 2014, 15.4% of uninsured patients who visited the ER said they went because they had no other place to go.5 They use the emergency room as their primary care physician. The hospitals passed this cost along to Medicaid.The Balance
And then there are the racial inequities. Black Americans have been exploited and discriminated against for centuries. A white household’s median net worth is about ten times more than a Black household. That’s not just not right. It’s a big wrong.
And then there is gender.
In the Closing the Women’s Wealth Gap’s 2017 report, “U.S. women own just $0.32 for every $1 a man owns. That amount is even lower for Black and Latina women — mere pennies to every dollar owned by white men and women.”The Fool
What does that say about us as a country? What does that say about us as individuals?
So What Can You Do and What Can You Do When It Feels Like You’re Barely Hanging on Yourself?
All the way back in 2015, Talkpoverty.com has a great post about fighting income equality. You can check it out and get informed.
john a. powell also has an interesting post about legislative policies here.
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