Income inequality is becoming more and more a dominant issue in America today, as we recover from the recession. An international confederation of organizations dealing with poverty has warned that the world’s richest 1 percent will possess more than half of the globe’s wealth by next year. The Stanford University Center on Poverty and Inequality released a report last month pointing out that state and local governments can have an impact through policy changes like increasing the minimum wage, earned income tax credits for the working poor and “temporary assistance programs for families in need.”
In last Sunday’s Conversation, we asked readers: What should the Legislature, the governor and businesses do to reduce income inequality?
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Free market fails income equality role
Re “Focusing on income inequality” (Forum, March 8): Yes, we have more jobs, and free market advocates say we just need to wait. They say income equality will happen if government regulations are reduced and taxes are cut. Not so. We have reduced taxes, pushed interest rates to near zero and subsidized multiple industries in the name of job creation since the 2008 economic collapse.
Our country has many unfulfilled needs – infrastructure, security, energy and academic research in areas of health and Earth resources. These are issues that the free market can’t seem to be able to make a profit on, so they are ignored.
Who can do this, and what are the benefits? Obviously, the benefits would significantly improve the growth of the middle class with more jobs. Since the free market refuses or is unable to deal with these issues, our government is the only solution left. Unfortunately, our body politic has an emotional block on big government.
Richard Kuechle, Lincoln
Jeff Randall – People are not equal. We don’t have equal talents, equal likes and dislikes, and there will never be income equality at the same time we have freedom. What the government can do is help people make choices that are in their best interest, and encourage them to be the best they can be.
Paula Yokoyama – It is not up to the government to give people income equality. The government should provide good schools, and police and fire protection. The people themselves must figure out how to make a living and what kind of job to get.
Elaine Byrd-Irwin – As a small business owner for 18 years, I’ve seen the slow destruction of California happen. It is slowly milking small businesses by putting everything on our backs, but not big corporations. We pay the price for it all. I spend all my time on keeping up with all the regulations and bookkeeping than actually growing and marketing my business. The mom-and-pop businesses will be all gone in another 20 years if things stay the same. So very sad. If you haven’t lived it, you just don’t get it.
Peter Feeley – Income inequality does not mean some are working and some aren’t, it means some get paid a king’s ransom and others get paid a pittance. Tax and wage policies can close the gap without making us like North Korea – that’s just silly. … Fact is the gap between top earners and bottom earners was a lot less narrow in the good old days of the ’50s and ’60s when the U.S. was the envy of the world.
Carmichael Craig – Raising the minimum wage today to what it was in today’s dollars in the ’60s would be a start. Not waiting seven years to get to $15 when inflation will have eaten away any gains. Conservatives claim they hate social programs, yet they oppose the one thing that would significantly cut them. Ninety-five percent of poor people are working poor. It’s time we stop giving welfare to the Wal-Marts of the world and pay people a living wage.