Income Inequality: Should it matter?
Let me preface this, before I get covered in monkey shit, with a statement about OWS (aka my attempt to pander to the right wing constituency here): I think the protesters are completely misguided in their efforts, many are completely uninformed or willfully ignorant, and I'm sick of walking around the barricades on Wall St.
With that said, I think it's still important to look at what is behind these protests. Their message may be incoherent and impractical, but their anger may be justified. Most (all?) of the people on this board are in or aspire to be in finance, which gives us a good understanding of the practical underpinnings of the financial crisis and it's after effects, but can also severely narrow our view of the (non finance) world.
This Business Insider slideshow has a variety of graphics about the growing divide between wealthy and non wealthy Americans. Many of the statistics you have heard touted elsewhere, but I think it gives a good summary of how the current situation differs from the past and differs from the rest of the world:
This Live Science article has a couple more insights:
What struck me most about the Business Insider slideshow is slide #20, which shows upward mobility in the US at an all time low (and trending downwards). Everyone loves the entrepreneurial success stories of Facebook, Google, etc. but the reality seems to be that the American Dream is harder to achieve than ever before. Record corporate profits simply aren't being reinvested, the middle class is dwindling due to wage stagnation, and the country as a whole seems to be in an economic confidence malaise.
My question to you all is- does income inequality really matter? If it does, what should be done to reverse course?
I am trying to avoid a dogmatic discussion on this, although on this board it will certainly devolve into that. Does anyone have any out of the box solutions that don't fit the cookie cutter Democrat and Republican talking points? You can say all you want about people being lazy or corporations being greedy, but I haven't seen or heard of many creative solutions.
When the Tea Party movement first began, some of their demands were written off as batshit crazy (I'll be the first to admit I was guilty of this). In spite of all this, they brought an important issue to the forefront of American politics and discourse- "what should the role of government be in our economy?". As the Tea Party groups organized and formed a more coherent message, they became a bonafide political player on the local and national scenes. It remains to be seen whether these protest groups will ever reach the influence of the Tea Party (probably not since the right wing always seems more organized than the left), but I think (hope) that the OWS movement will make us think about "should we as a country deal with growing income inequality, and if so, how?", instead of us just writing off their crazy proposals and waiting for winter to force the hippies home.