Income Inequality in the United States
The fluctuating level of inequality among the incomes of Americans has become a consistent topic of research among institutions and scholars. From the 1970s, the disparity between income levels has increased considerably. One of the major reasons attributed to this phenomenon is the country’s support for capitalism. The insistence on the ideology of the free market has further separated the income classes significantly due to the high percentage of income that the top 1 percent account for in the United States. The reading, “Immigration, Superstars, and Poverty” delves into this issue by discussing poverty, income mobility and the programs the government has established in catering for those within the low income bracket. In addition, the chapter reveals the main contention of the income inequality in relation to the earnings of America’s top 1 percent.
Poverty is the primary focus of the reading. Accordingly, Miller, Benjamin and North review whether it is right to assert that the poor only seems to become poorer. In this respect, the level of income among Americans is evaluated, from the 1970s. To be more specific, in 1979, the top 1 percent of American earners possessed only 8 percent of the general income. This illustrated the sensible distribution of income especially among the middle class and low income earners. However, by 1997, the same top 1 percent managed to secure 17 percent of the overall income further illustrating the rapidity of income inequality in America. At this point, it is evident that the gap between the rich and poor has consistently increased over the last four decades. The widening of this fissure has further established a cause for worry among Americans based on the actuality that it may be difficult to revert towards a just economic situation.
Miller, Benjamin and North also emphasize on the issue of ‘superstars’ and their connection to the rising income inequality in America. Over time, most Americans have believed that the top 1 percent is largely comprised of heads of capitalist corporations within the country. As much as this is rational, this particular income group is also comprised of people with normal professions such as writers, doctors and even engineers. In this respect, the reading also attempts to depict the misconception regarding corporate greed and the impact it poses on income levels within the country. Moreover, the authors also focus on dissipating such generalizations concerning the top 1 percent.
Nonetheless, the authors are not quick in dismissing other facts related to the issue. Irrespective of the earnings of the top 1 percent being the main factor, the reading also outlines other aspects of the American economy that contribute to the inequality. These reasons range from the increase in member households to the effect of globalization on labor markets as well as heightened competition, education, technology and open service bidding (Miller, Benjamin and North 97). In this relation, the free market, based on its insistence on capitalism, contributes significantly to the level of increased inequality between the top 1 percent and the 99 percent. As such, the structural factors of capitalist America’s free market function as the reasons behind the decreasing level of income among the country’s 99 percent.
Personally, as much as the top 1 percent gain absurdly high incomes than the rest, the issue does not lie in how much they receive from their exploits. Accordingly, the government has worked hard in ensuring that the gap between the rich and the poor is limited as much as possible. Through welfare programs such as SNAP, Bailout Plans and Food Stamps, the government has focused extensively on aiding the poor within the country. As such, it may also be easy for the low income earners to actually abuse these programs without using them as a means towards gaining a source of income.
Miller, Roger L. R, Daniel K. Benjamin, and Douglass C. North. The Economics of Public Issues. New York: Pearson, 2014. Print.