Donald V. Watkins
America's Growing Wealth Gap
Updated: Dec 8, 2019
By: Donald V. Watkins
© Copyrighted and Published on December 8, 2019
Every Monday through Friday, news organizations and government officials announce how well Wall Street performed that day. Wall Street objectively measures the growth or decline in wealth for America's publicly owned companies and the institutional investors that control them. It is also a barometer of how the top one percent of American individuals and families are doing financially.
In contrast, there is no report issued at the close of each business day that measures how well or bad things went financially for Main Street, or the 99 percenters. This assessment is left to political spin.
Here's why Washington and Wall Street only give lip service to Main Street:
Income inequality in America is the highest it has been since the Census Bureau began tracking it more than five decades ago. The rich are getting richer and the middle-class and working poor are getting poorer.
The single biggest reason why the income equality gap between rich and poor Americans is widening is the fact that the federal minimum wage has stood at $7.25 for more than a decade.
Rather than focusing Americans on the real cause of the growing income inequality and resulting wealth gap, Republican political leaders whip up their right-wing conservative base by telling mostly white voters that: (a) something has been taken from them that they are entitled to and deserve, (b) it was given to people who don't deserve it, like immigrants, gay people, blacks, and women, and (c) supporting President Donald Trump and Republican officeholders nationwide will lead to the life they deserve.
This is the "Make America Great Again" theme. It is a recycled version of President Ronald Reagan's "Trickle-Down" economics of the 1980s which says the super-rich will take care of the middle-class, working poor, and hopelessly poor. In reality, the only thing that trickles down from super-rich Americans to middle-class and working poor Americans is the political equivalent to diarrhea, which smells and soils the ordinary Americans underneath them every time.
Republican politicians have skillfully converted income inequality and the wealth gap into a feeling of emasculation among financially struggling white men and victimhood among white middle-class and working poor voters generally. This feeling motivates these targeted voters to back "silk stocking" Republican policies that primarily benefit the super-rich and economically privileged.
These Republican voters believe that because they work hard, pay taxes, and strive to be good citizens, they should be able to support their families, send their children to college, and buy a home. In reality, the global economic factors that benefit the super-rich are robbing these voters of the tangible benefits that flowed to middle-class voters during the era of America's dominant industrial-driven economy.
Globalization of commerce, rapidly changing technological developments, and liberal economic policies are powering the winds of economic change. Instead of addressing the minimum wage problem and the resulting wealth gap, President Trump and his mindless political minions in Washington and around the nation pander to racial hatred, xenophobia, sexism, and other forms of prejudice. They will never confront the one percenters and demand a better deal for the 99 percenters.