Thompson: We need to act on inequality now
We need to close the gap between the rich and the poor. That disturbing chasm is widening, as two recent surveys demonstrate.
The first, a survey of 700 academics and executives meeting this week in Switzerland for the World Economic Forum, found that "income inequality" was the most likely threat to the world economy.
There is a simple reason for that. If there are not enough good-paying jobs, people don't have money to spend. And if they don't have money to spend, companies can't sell as many products, so companies lay more people off. This is a classic vicious cycle.
The second report is a "State of the Union" from the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality. It discovered that "the country's economy and labor market remain in deep disrepair." It noted that long-term unemployment is at an all-time high since 2000. It added that full recovery isn't coming any time soon if we continue along the current path.
These studies show that income and wealth disparities are rising to dangerous levels. They are also disproportionately impacting African-Americans and Latinos.
The Stanford study underscores the need for a second War on Poverty. It recommends a "no-holds-barred commitment" to delivering good jobs to all those who seek them.
The problem of inequality has been studied to death by now. What is lacking is action by government to create jobs and reduce the gap between the superwealthy and the rest of us.
The time for this action is now.
Elizabeth Ann Thompson is a writer for Progressive Media Project, a source of liberal commentary on domestic and international issues; it is affiliated with The Progressive magazine.