Do you know the term: “The Great Divergence?” If you don’t, you need to become more familiar with it before you go to the polls so you can vote like your life depends on it because the economic quality of it does.
There have long been great divides in income rewards and dispersement in the United States of America. Clearly, for anyone black or female this is not a new revelation.
In 1915, a statistician at the U of Wisconsin, Wilford King, published The Wealth and Income of the People of the United States. It is, to this date, the most comprehensive study of its kind. The United States was displacing the United Kingdom as the worlds wealthiest nation but the details of its economy would not start to be collected and recorded by our nation until the 1930′s. King’s purpose was to provide reassurance to the public that all Americans were sharing in this wealth. He unearthed rather troubling findings. It would seem that 1% of the population at that writing had amassed 15% of the wealth in America. He was right to be concerned.
Fastforward to 2007, the year in which Nobel laureate, Princeton economist, Paul Krugman labeled the post 1979 period the “Great Divergence” in his book The Conscience of a Liberal.
In the 1930′s-1940′s the trend of a small amount of the population holding a large proportionate amount of the country’s wealth began to reverse itself. It remained reasonably stable in distribution both in the 1950′s post-war economic boom and also in the 1960′s. In the late 1980′s-1990′s the United States was noted to have experienced two periods of unprecedentedly long in duration, sustained economic growth. The result: From 1980′s-2005, more than 80% of all total increases in Americans’ income was distributed to the top 1%. Though economic growth was more sluggish in decade of 2000′s absolutely none of the gains were absorbed in wage growth of the middle or lower class.
It is to be noted also that though the United States would never suffer the term assigned to other countries known for this kind of income inequality, like “failed societies” a term we might assign to Guyana, Nicaraqua, or Venezuela- the Latin nations are becoming far better in their pursuit of income equality. In America it it is less so.
Perhaps the perception that hard work, excellence, diligence, opportunity and assistance is available for all our U.S. citizens remains the reason that we are not looking as hard at this as the situation seems to merit. I mean those who are excellent will prove this excellence by rising to the top anyway. Right? However, to ignore that economic equality and stability does offer more opportunities at less personal investment does not make it less real. Economics do matter. They provide or remove opportunities for advancement, education and success. How can one devote themselves to the pursuit of their dreams when they are busily engaged every hour of every day in their economic survival? Only someone never experiencing the complete abyss that this kind of daily struggle can wreak on the psyche, energy and overall outook of a person would not understand the implications it poses on someones life.
“This is not the type of thing which a democratic society—a capitalist democratic society—can really accept without addressing,” Greenspan said in 2005. Greenspan’s Republican-appointed successor, Ben Bernanke, has also fretted about income inequality.
Both of these guys “got it.”
As you head to the polls remember that sometimes just because a problem in the making for a long time is still present that is not the same thing as being responsible for it. It also doesn’t mean that work to fix it was less valuable or hard won. Some things that have been wrong for a very long time cannot be altered in moments.
It really is kind of a blighted manner of thinking to believe they can.
After serving our guests breakfast on voting day morning, my husband and I will head to the polls. We strongly hope that each of you will do the same. If you are Republicans-Go. If you are Democrats or Independents-Go. Try and learn all about the issues and avoid reactionary and fear based thinking. Look at the long nature of the joblessness our country is experiencing and do your best to be informed about how we got here, how long it took and the reasons for where we are. The tendency is to blame only the current Gatekeeper but that would be too easy and not worthy of our history as thinkers, seekers freedom fighters and Americans.