Youth Voices: Wealth inequality in America

By Kerry Ngan

One of the United States’s overwhelming challenges is the difference in wealth between the Americans in the top 20 percent and the ones in the lower 60 percent. During the 1970s, the idea of supply-side economics was conceived as a method that would help the economy grow by reducing the obstacles needed for companies: cutting taxes, reducing regulation, and restrictions. The government believed business owners would be able to invest more money into the economy that would in turn stimulate growth. Taxes were raised to 79 percent at the time of the New Deal, 91 percent under Eisenhower, cut to 70 percent under Nixon, then 50 percent under Reagan and fell to 35 percent under George W. Bush, allowing businesses to flourish. Despite having low taxes, the economic growth has fallen since President Bush’s time. By removing the restriction on companies, the rich have instead pocketed the tax money that they didn’t need to pay, accumulating most of the nation’s wealth.

Owning almost all of America’s stocks, bonds and shares, the top 20 percent have most of America’s wealth while the bottom 60 percent have almost none. Furthermore, the top 1 percent own 24 percent of the entire nation’s wealth in 2012 — up from 9 percent in 1970 and make an average of 380 times more than the average American worker. While most of the nation’s wealth is taken by the top 1 percent, there is little room for the lower classes to get a pay raise and improve their standard of living. As a service-based country, many of America’s higher-paying jobs require a higher level of education that can only be achieved through astronomical tuition fees — a cost that most of the poor can’t afford to pay. At the cost of reducing lower class work wages to a minimum, the wealthy maximize their profit and continue to take more than 20 percent of the nation’s wealth while lowering the indigents’ chances of ever leaving their current class.

Changes need to be made to the economy — levitating not only the lower classes, but reducing the wealth of the rich as well. Today is not the day one can work hard and buy a lottery ticket. Today is the day to wake up from the false perception of the economy and let one’s voice bring America back to reality.


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