The One -Two Punch of Fixing Income Inequality: Redistribution and Education

By Juma Sei

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Capitalism – “An economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit.” [1]

Equality ­– “The state of being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunities.”[2]

These theories of a, “money market,” per say, and all people being held equivalent, serve as the backbone of America. However, with further inspection, we find that the concepts do not completely justify one another.

Is it possible to have private owners of industry and still be, “equal?” Additionally, can all people really be, “equal” if business owner’s profit from the general population? No, inequality is an innate necessity of capitalism.

Social norms drive humans to perceive America as the greatest nation in our day. However, these beliefs neglect accounting for the tremendous income inequality in our nation. The rich have been getting richer, the poor have been getting poorer, the middle class is being hollowed out, and income inequality has reached heights of the great depression.[3] To put it into perspective, over the last three decades, the bottom 90 percent of American’s saw 15 percent wage increase, while the top one percent saw an increase of over 150 percent.

It’s like a rope; both ends need the middle for support. If it starts dying away, eventually the rope will rip. Economies need a strong middle class for that stability and because of increasing income inequality; America is a rope on the verge of ripping.

How do we fix our drastic state of income inequality?

I do not agree with popular belief in blind taxation of the wealthiest. Not all wealthy people simply inherit money and not all wealthy people are using their money for personal benefits. Some do, in fact, give back to our world; therefore it makes no sense taking away money they use to do so.

Bill Gates recently donated $50 million to the Ebola outbreak.[4] This donation was Gate’s largest ever to a humanitarian cause, and serves as a buttress for the simple fact not all rich people use money for gain. Gates agrees with this notion, using an example of three types of wealthy people to prove his point.[5] The first person advances their capital, the second donates to the less fortunate, and the third spends money on leisure. Yes, redistribution of wealth must occur, however, whom this wealth is taken from must be regulated. A line must be distinguished from the first two people mentioned, and the last. For they do not use their affluence in a progressive way, thus they should be the ones taken from most significantly.

Furthermore, another solution lies in education of the next generation. As you read this right now, the world we live in is flattening, meaning that geographic barriers are becoming less significant with the advancements of technology. Human capital is more important then ever before, and by investing in our education system, we give all children the skills needed to maximize this. Ultimately, setting them up for success in the modern world.

When interviewed, owner of local Portland restaurant Chez José, Howie Schechter stated, “I think that income inequality has been caused by loss of the jobs allowing middle class families to earn a proper living.”[6] Schechter believes that lack proper of employment has caused income inequality. With this belief, it’s obvious that by educating our youth to the point where job loss is no longer a problem, we fix income inequality for the long run.

America is nation founded on equality and capitalism, yet our capitalist ideals are standing in the way of equality for all. By redistributing wealth of the non-progressive affluent, we immediately help severe income inequality in this nation. By ensuring the upcoming generation’s ability to acquire human capital, we stop this problem from ever occurring in the first place. Social norms perceive our nation as the greatest, so let’s fulfill these expectations in every way possible.

[1] Capitalism, Dictionary.com, accessed on February 18, 2015.

[2] Equality, Dictionary.com, accessed on February 18, 2015.

[3] Chris Matthews, Wealth inequality in America: It’s worse than you think, Fortune, last modified October 31, 2014, http://fortune.com/2014/10/31/inequality-wealth-income-us/.

[4] Jack Dutton, At $50 million, Bill Gates Just Made His Largest Donation Ever to Fight Ebola, Business Insider, last modified September 12, 2014, http://www.businessinsider.com/bill-gates-donates-50-million-to-the-ebola-outbreak-2014-9.

[5] Chrish Matthews, Bill Gates’ solution to income inequality, Fortune, last modified October 15, 2014, http://fortune.com/2014/10/15/bill-gates-income-inequality/.

[6] Interview with Howie Schechter, February 23, 2015.

Photo Credit: Flickr

About Grace Masback

Grace Masback, 17, aspires to give voice to the voiceless and holds the modest ambition of becoming the voice of Gen Z. Frustrated by the dearth of impactful platforms for teen journalists, she founded WANT, a news, sports, and entertainment website that aggregates the best in high school journalism from school newspapers and teen bloggers around the world (www.wantnewsforteens.com).

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