Over the past 40 years, our nation has generated tremendous productivity, yet wages have remained relatively stagnant. Since the 1970's, the average income for people in the top 1% has grown far faster than for the rest of us. There are a number of causes, including:
- Automation that has enabled companies to produce products and services using fewer workers.
- Globalization that has allowed companies to produce products and services using fewer local workers.
- Tax policy that has redistributed income to top earners.
- Corporate policies that reward executives for generating profits at the expense of fair compensation practices.
The United States economy has been growing rapidly, and almost none of the gains generated by that productivity have made it back to the front-line workers largely responsible for it. Stagnant incomes have made it harder for families to buy homes and afford higher education, things which help build wealth and establish a secure financial future. These goals are even harder to achieve for women and minority populations.
This dynamic is well-documented, yet receives almost no attention from elected officials. When was the last time you heard your Representative in Congress speak about addressing the income inequality that has been steadily and quietly hurting America's working class for decades?
We have reached a point where it will be a significant challenge to deal with this unfair income redistribution to our wealthiest Americans. The first step is to elect members of Congress who appreciate the magnitude of this problem. We can then address some of the key drivers by:
- Phasing in a living wage that allows people working full-time to be able to support their family.
- Support strong unions, which stand up for workers and have been shown to be effective firewalls against income inequality and unfair labor practices.
- Changing the capital gains tax so that investment wealth is taxed at the same rate as workers' income, and closing tax loopholes that allow companies to pay much lower taxes than their actual tax rate.
- Investing corporate tax revenue back into programs that directly support the working class, such as supporting free community college and job training programs, and easing the growing financial burden for students attending four-year colleges.
- Promoting executive compensation practices that encourage companies to grow rather than take from our working class.