My Record Journal
February 20, 2014
Income inequality is a defining, ruinous social issue. Its impact on the American workforce is intensified by contemporary economic forces.
For instance, huge modern leaps in technology's evolution are more beneficial for the haves than the have-nots. What once required an assembly line of workers to build, or a department of employees to administer, or an entire staff to oversee, can now be accomplished more quickly and less costly by a series of robotic apparatuses, computer programs or mechanized processes. Lower- and middle-class jobs have decreased.
Meanwhile, to design, implement and operate these technological systems requires extensive learning, an expensive undertaking reserved for those who can afford higher education.
This somewhat invalidates the common argument that individuals at the bottom of the fiscal food chain should just go back to school as the first step toward upward mobility. Who can afford to take classes when earning minimum wage? Who has the time when working three part-time jobs? People born into well-off households can have the crucial advantage of living off of their families while pursuing advanced degrees that, more often now than ever, are essential for high-paying jobs.
Another argument that carries less weight than its prevalence would suggest is that unemployed individuals would rather collect government checks than go to work. There are abusers who take advantage of the system. However, many individuals without jobs would readily trade welfare for meaningful employment. To have a vocation adds greater significance and gratification to one's life.
Hence, federal leaders were wrong when they recently ended programs that provide extended unemployment benefits. The goal was to conserve dollars and encourage jobless citizens to seek work. But these individuals likely are already combing through what limited opportunities exist. Slashing extended benefits did not add impetus. It unnecessarily punished people already down on their luck, many whose positions were eliminated by the 2007 recession.
Perhaps federal politicians wouldn't be so callous if they weren't so removed from blue-collar reality. Many leaders on Capitol Hill enjoy considerable wealth. Winning a Congressional seat is difficult without significant finances needed to afford a national political campaign. No wonder, then, that the Senate is often called the "millionaires club."
And these affluent elite are supposed to comprehend the stifling inequities of the income gap? No wonder politicians take no real steps toward mitigating this injustice.
If widening inequality is to be reversed, voters must elect lawmakers who better understand the social problem -- which begins by understanding that it is a problem. Voters should support leaders who govern for the greater populace, and who govern with sympathy toward the less fortunate (unlike many of today's legislators, who seem to look admiringly at the country's top earners and think "why can't everyone just be like them?").
Not everyone can attain wealth or even well-paying jobs because income opportunity is not equal, and it becomes more so with each passing day of legislative inaction.