Schools and Inequality
Our education systems have grown over the past years. However, the systems are still faced with multiple problems, internal and external challenges. These challenges affect society and families but most educators. These challenges are contributed to by differences in many aspects, such as funding and conditions. This discussion elaborates on the inequalities inside and outside the school that affects students and recommendation on how to solve these challenges. The last section will discuss social or cultural concepts based on a case scenario.
Inequalities outside the school
School segregation is an outside-school issue that affects learners. Schools were segregated by law before 1954. These laws were enacted and practised by states and communities by dictating which schools African American and white children would attend. During that time, all schools were either white or black. How did this trend affect learners? Also known as De jure segregation impacted students since white schools received better funding than back schools (Russ, 2015). Quality education results from better resources or findings; if an institution does not receive sufficient funds, the school will likely fall short of infrastructure and other learning facilities translating to poor performance. Therefore, white schools performed better than black schools, giving white students more opportunities. The second inequality issue is the school choice program. The program by the government gives parents vouchers or certificates so they can use private schools for tuition. This program, however, gives a parent who cannot afford quality education an option they would not afford in the first place (Gimenez et al., 2017). This program was criticized for reduced enrollment in public schools hence their funding. Therefore, public schools receive poor funding to compete at the private school level hurting pupils who cannot afford or access the program’s benefits.
Inequalities inside the school
According to Kozol’s reading Savage Inequalities, the inequalities inside schools depict Suburban schools. The residents of Illinois, East St. Louis, are mainly African Americans who are mostly middle or low-class citizens. The schools in this area share common and general problems. Most of these schools had to shut down at some point due to sewerage blockage or overflow. Secondly, the schools use outdated science laboratories that has either insufficient or outdated facilities or both. Thirdly the schools are understaffed. For instance, from the reading, one history teacher was teaching over one hundred children with less than thirty old and torn books. Kozol also discovered that the schools had urinals in bad condition, the building’s glasses were broken, and bulbs were not functional. Lastly, the school gym had no showers, and one gym served seven classes. The conditions contrasted with schools in Chicago suburbs with an Olympic-sized swimming pool and seven gyms, and students could learn seven languages and play other games such as hokey and golf (Kozol, 2012). This demonstrates how inequalities in American schools affect children in poor neighbourhoods or low social classes who can not afford quality education.
Equity and fairness in education is not only a right that learners must enjoy, but it also extends to humanity. According to Cookson (2021), every child must be given a fair opportunity to get an equal and quality education to give them fair ground in the future job market. Unfortunately, students from high social class get a better education than low social class learners, primarily children of colour or racially different. This is the best explanation for why people of colour do not get equal job opportunities compared to white people.
Government representatives can be part of the solution to problems of inequalities affecting education systems and learners, as a Mayor of East St. Louis; a legislative representative and part of the committee that makes funding decisions, I would ensure that the schools have sufficient and equal funding so that none of the schools either privet or public school is advantaged over the other. Equality in the education system has not been made possible due to the inequality in funding; therefore, equal resources, facilities or materials will restore equality. Consequently, America will achieve the same education opportunity for all schools in the social context, giving students equal opportunities from the positive outcomes of education.
Social capital concept
The students are affected by the impact of social capital. The concept of social capital was coined in 1980 by James Coleman. He used this concept to explain how patterns and processes in social perspective contribute to disparities between different ethnic groups and how this affects students’ achievements. In this concept, Coleman implied that norms, obligations and expectations in education are an essential social capital in the community or a family. They affect academic success by affecting the level of parents’ or community engagement in education. Based on the scenario, parents, families and friends are not taking part or acting on their obligation to support the education process for these students because they have not been through college (Owens & Canadian, 2019). Therefore, the inactive participation of parents, family and friends in the education journey affects the students by lacking motivation or role models who went through college.
In conclusion, for students to have the same opportunity to reap successful educational results, there must be equality in education. Equity gives room to make adjustments to students who might require exceptional support and attention to excel in education.
Castro Aristizabal, G., Gimenez, G., & Pérez Ximénez-de-Embún, D. (2017). Desigualdades educativas en América Latina, PISA 2012: causas de las diferencias en desempeño escolar entre los colegios públicos y privados: Educational inequalities in Latin America, PISA 2012: causes of differences in school performance between public and private schools. Ministerio de Educación.
Cookson, P. W. (2021). United States of America: Contours of continuity and controversy in private schools. In Private schools in ten countries (pp. 57–84). Routledge.
Kozol, J. (2012). Savage inequalities: Children in America’s schools. Crown.
Krasny, M. E., Kalbacker, L., Stedman, R. C., & Russ, A. (2015). Measuring social capital among youth: applications in environmental education. Environmental education research, 21(1), 1–23. S
Owens, A., & Canadian, J. (2019). Social and spatial inequalities of educational opportunity: A portrait of schools serving high-and low-income neighbourhoods in US metropolitan areas. Urban Studies, 56(15), 3178–3197.
Future Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Work, Inequality, and Personal Liberty
Artificial Intelligence refers to the artifacts that are used to detect contexts or to implement actions in response to the identified contexts (Bryson, 2019, p. 1). Technological advancement has increased people’s ability to build AI tools and artifacts. These artifacts have affected the availability of jobs and employment opportunities positively and negatively. The current future of AI is unclear and rapidly changing with time. Artificial intelligence greatly impacts work, leads to inequality, and affects people’s personal liberty and privacy. This essay will explore the future impact of AI on work, inequality, and personal privacy and liberty.
We are currently unable to accurately forecast the future of AI for workers as there is a lack of data available. The main purpose of AI is to automate manual labor and make it easier and more time efficient. There is a general assumption that AI will make people redundant by creating super-intelligence machines that will change the course of life. According to Acemoglu (2021, p. 1), AI is likely to make advancements without paying attention to the possible effects of such growth on the essence of society such as undermining individual freedoms and democracy. This direction will affect the future of jobs as AI advances will replace workers without creating new job opportunities. Although these consequences are inevitable, the direction of AI is not preordained, but it is quite large and unexplored. The road taken by AI can be altered to create more jobs, increase productivity and shared prosperity, and bolster democratic freedoms. (As Acemoglu, 2021, p. 1), argues AI is not likely to make people redundant or create super-intelligent machines that will replace humanity. What is certain however is that AI will revolutionize various aspects of life such as entertainment, healthcare, transport, and the employment sector by enabling faster production of various tools and products. AI will also increase the amount of information that companies and the government has about people (Acemoglu, 2021, p. 1). Even though such predictions are inevitable in the world of AI, there is plenty of possibilities for AI and endless ways it can improve the lives of people. Instead of causing people to become redundant, AI will increase human productivity and efficiency and offer improved approaches to create new tasks for employees, thus ensuring that their employment positions are secured. It is possible to change the course of AI by directing research towards a productive path and changing the priorities of AI researchers to focus on aspects that progress society. For centuries now, technology has been considered a major cause of employee displacement and income inequality. It is believed to increase operational efficiency which leads to the displacement of people by machines. Technology may also lead to inequality as it may cause a few technical innovators to thrive at the expense of other innovators who get overcome by costs or lag behind in terms of technological development (Bryson, 2019, p. 6). On a positive note, technologies have disrupted lives, families, and communities for the better in the past two decades. For instance, infant mortality has reduced, and lifespans are now longer than before, which has increased general satisfaction in humans. However, if societies can reduce or resolve inequality, then problems associated with unemployment will also diminish as there will be more money in circulation. There will be a trickling effect of development associated with technology which will provide people with employment in various sectors of the economy. Technological progress since the industrial revolution has led to fear of diminished demand for labor. Although automation has made old jobs redundant, it has proven its efficiency through the creation of new ones. Although this displaced unskilled workers, AI development led to the creation of new jobs that resulted in economic progress as such IT increases production per minute resulting in general growth in the economy. In order to understand the effect of IT in the labor market, (Korinek and Stiglitz, 2021, p. 2) advise that one should analyze the effect of technology on the labor market by checking its ability to increase or decrease the demand for labor in particular wages and prices. The analysis shows that since the industrial revolution, technological progress has increased the demand for labor leading to increased material wealth and average wages in the advanced nations. Rather than replacing labor with super-intelligent machines, AI has increased the production per hour leading to heightened productivity of workers.
AI has increasingly made many aspects of our society unequal which include work, personal liberty, and privacy. This is due to technology being developed too fast, and the main focus of innovation was strictly focusing on automation which caused less demand for people in the work environment. Automation is a tool of inequality. AI has introduced new technologies that automated routine tasks that are initially done by unskilled workers in factories and farms. This led to causing the wages and demand for such workers in common occupations and clerical positions to decline. On the contrary, the demand for professionals in finance, managerial, design, consulting, and engineering increased as they were considered essential to the success of the new innovations. This group of people benefited from higher wages and high demand (Acemoglu, 2021, p. 4). This widened the wage gap between skilled and unskilled workers, resulting in inequality in society. AI has led to wealth inequality and employment disruption by shielding wealthy individuals and companies from liability at the expense of the vulnerable in society. In order to address the challenges caused by automation and technological advancement, there is a need to shift the focus from the taxation of income to the documentation and taxation of wealth. However, this will require successful redistribution both nationally and internationally as most of the wealthiest organizations derive their wealth from the global space (Bryson, 2019, p. 11). This approach will reduce inequality, which will cause problems associated with employment to diminish significantly. The inequality caused by AI has been exacerbated by the availability of a wide range of cobots and chatbots. Most particularly, cobots used in factories that assemble cars and manufacture car parts have replaced a range of workers (Moore, 2021, p. 7). Automation has replaced the low-skilled work done by humans with robots that are augmented with autonomous machine behavior. Such automation has replaced workers in terms of their brains and limbs, as the machines are built to think and work like people.
During the rise of AI, people have become more worried about the fact that AI could be an invasion of their privacy. This is due to businesses using personal data to feed us information and products that we have searched for on our personal devices previously. This could be very irritating to internet users as product advertisements would keep coming up on every social media platform that they may use over and over until they feel obligated to buy it. AI affects personal privacy and liberty. Automation causes people to become easy to manipulate and predict, which further exposes them to attack and oppression from those who do not believe in them. It affects one’s liberty as it may expose one to threats from the state or other powerful parties in society. Such restrictions on personal liberty and inhibited free expression limits one’s ability to innovate, which slows society’s growth as a whole (Bryson, 2019, p. 7). Another risk associated with automation is that it increases the risk of losing privacy as a result of complex algorithmic systems (Murdoch, 2021, p. 3). This may result in data breaches in various sectors of the economy increasing the overall vulnerability of individuals and organizations. Going forward, businesses have a duty to adopt AI to increase productivity. As explained by Schmitz, businesses require to use AI as a tool and acquire more data to increase efficiency (Schmitz, 2022, p. 2). While increasing the amount of data, it is also important to ensure transparency about the use of the collected data and how the data will be used. The business should have a legal and legitimate basis to use the collected data in order to promote the privacy of data and eliminate challenges associated with large amounts of data (Murdoch, 2021, p. 3). Increasing efficiency in the collection of data and improving the automation processes such as management of customer relations will benefit the business in the long run.
In conclusion, my analysis of the texts shows that artificial intelligence affects work, leads to inequality, and affects people’s liberty and privacy. Artificial intelligence has led to the creation of tools that have increased operational efficiency in the workplace. Increased productivity has resulted in the loss of manpower as machineries such as cobots and chatbots are considered more efficient, replacing people. AI has also led to the loss of privacy and personal liberty. Businesses investing in AI should implement measures that promote the privacy of data and protect people from possible harass and abuse by third parties.
Acemoglu, D. (2021). AI’s Future Doesn’t Have to Be Dystopian. Boston Review, May, 20, p.2021.
Bryson, J.J. (2019). The past decade and future of AI’s impact on society. Towards a new enlightenment, pp.150-185.
Korinek, A. and Stiglitz, J.E. (2021). Covid-19 driven advances in automation and artificial intelligence risk exacerbating economic inequality. bmj, 372.
Moore, P. V. (2019). Artificial Intelligence in the Workplace: What is at Stake for Workers? In Work in the Age of Data. Madrid: BBVA, 2019.
Murdoch, B. (2021). Privacy and artificial intelligence: challenges for protecting health information in a new era. BMC Medical Ethics, 22(1), pp.1-5.
Schmitz, M. (2022). Artificial intelligence and data privacy. Usercentrics, April 12, 2022
Poverty and Income Inequality
Income inequality and poverty are two major issues facing society today. As the disparity between the wealthy and those in poverty continues to widen, more and more people are being pushed into poverty (Schwindt, 2021). Consequently, income inequality negatively impacts economic growth, and the negative impact is more in countries with high poverty rates. As such, there is a need to introduce policies to alleviate poverty so that income inequality is reduced, such as social safety nets, targeted education, health care investments, and progressive taxation.
In the past few decades, the world has experienced unprecedented economic growth, globalization, and technological change. While this has led to many benefits, it has also contributed to rising poverty and income inequality (Strader & Misra, 2018). Economic growth has been uneven, with some regions and groups of people benefiting more than others. Globalization has led to the rise of multinational corporations and the globalization of production, making it easier for companies to move production to countries where labor is cheaper (Strader & Misra, 2018). Consequently, this has put downward pressure on wages and benefits, making it harder for workers to earn a decent living.
Technological change has also had an impact on income inequality. The rise of automation and artificial intelligence has led to job losses in many sectors, including manufacturing and service industries. This has put downward pressure on wages and benefits, making it harder for workers to earn a decent living (Dong et al., 2022). These trends have all contributed to rising poverty levels as well as income inequality.
Poverty and Income Inequality as a Societal Problem
America has long been considered a heaven of opportunity, where anyone can start with nothing and achieve success through hard work and determination. However, the reality is that not everyone has an equal chance of achieving the American dream. According to Mooney et al. (2021), income inequality and poverty have been on the rise in the United States for decades and have become two major obstacles standing in the way of many people’s ability to improve their economic situation. While there are a number of factors that contribute to income inequality and poverty, one of the most significant is economic inequality.
In the past decades, the wealthiest Americans have seen their incomes steadily increase while the incomes of the poorest Americans have stagnated or even declined. When the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer, it creates an unequal society in which some people have a much higher standard of living than others (Schwindt, 2021). This can lead to social and economic tensions, as well as resentment and envy. Additionally, poverty can lead to a lack of education. Children who lack good education have difficulty finding good jobs as adults. Similarly, poverty can lead to crime. This is because people who are desperate for money are more likely to turn to crime in order to make ends meet.
Income inequality can also have negative effects on society. Extreme economic inequality can lead to social unrest. Poor people may become angry and resentful of the wealthy, leading to riots and protests (Brown & Long, 2018). Additionally, income inequality can lead to political instability. Countries with high levels of income inequality are more likely to experience coups and civil wars. Besides, poverty and income inequality can create a sense of hopelessness. When people are living in poverty, they may feel like they will never be able to get out of it (Brown & Long, 2018). Similarly, it can lead to people giving up on their dreams and goals. They may feel like they will never be able to achieve anything and see no point in trying to make improvements.
Social Safety Nets
Social safety nets are government programs that provide financial assistance to people who are unable to support themselves or their families. This can include pensions for the elderly, health care, cash transfers, and in-kind assistance (Beegle et al., 2018). For many people, a social safety net makes the difference between being able to afford basic necessities like food and shelter and being homeless or starving (Minton & Giannarelli, 2019). Pensions are quite effective in reducing poverty levels and income inequality because they provide a reliable source of income for people who are no longer able to earn a living.
In their study, Minton & Giannarelli (2019) determined that most people in extreme poverty have no connection to any social safety net programs. This is especially true for non-disabled adults who lack children, illegal immigrants, and short-term residents. Statistics indicate that a whopping 30kes5 of individuals living in extreme poverty do not receive any social safety net benefits. On the other hand, 70% had access to at least one social safety net program. This indicates that social safety nets play a big role in alleviating poverty. Besides, pensions are also progressive, meaning that they provide more financial assistance to people who are in greater need.
In-kind assistance can also be a viable solution to reducing poverty and income inequality because it helps to meet the basic needs of those who are struggling. When people have their basic needs met, they are better able to focus on other things, like finding a job or going to school. In-kind assistance can also help to break the cycle of poverty, as it can provide the resources that people need to get ahead. However, there are some drawbacks to in-kind assistance, however. One is that it can be difficult to target assistance to those who truly need it. Another is that in-kind assistance can create dependency, as people may become reliant on assistance to meet their needs.
Targeted education can be a viable solution to reducing poverty and income inequality because it can provide individuals with the skills and knowledge necessary to find well-paying jobs. When people are able to get good jobs, they are more likely to be able to support themselves and their families. Targeted education can also help to reduce income inequality by providing opportunities for people to improve their socioeconomic status (Guo et al., 2019). When people have access to better education, they are more likely to get better jobs and earn more money. According to Guo et al. (2019), this can help reduce economic inequality. Although targeted education can be an effective way to reduce poverty and income inequality, it is important to ensure that the programs are well-designed and implemented in order to be successful.
There is a growing body of evidence that suggests social safety nets (healthcare investments) can be a viable solution to reducing poverty and income inequality. A recent study by Khullar & Chokshi (2018) found that there is a positive correlation between healthcare investments and reduced poverty levels. According to their findings, adults in the United States with incomes below $35,000 depicted lower general well-being relative to those with earnings above $100,000 (Khullar & Chokshi, 2018). As such, those with lower incomes tended to have four times poorer life choices, both regarding general life decisions. The statistics further indicate that poorer adults often have worse conditions, such as obesity and chronic diseases, which further reduce economic and financial stability (Khullar & Chokshi, 2018). Based on these findings, it is evident that better health investments can have a significant impact on poverty levels.
Similarly, countries with more robust social safety nets had significantly lower levels of poverty and income inequality. Healthcare investments can help to ensure that everyone has access to quality care, which can prevent and address health problems before they become too expensive or life-threatening (Jamison, 2018). This, in turn, can help to reduce the overall costs of healthcare and make it more affordable for everyone. Additionally, by providing access to quality healthcare, social safety nets can help to improve the overall health of the population, which can lead to increased productivity and economic growth.
In a progressive tax structure, the wealthy would give more of their earnings in taxes relative to the poor. According to Tanchev (2021), the rich have a higher ability to pay taxes, and they can afford to pay more. This would also help to raise revenue for the government, which could be used to fund programs that help the poor and reduce poverty. Some people argue that progressive taxation is unfair because it taxes people at different rates. However, this is not true. According to Oishi et al. (2018), progressive taxation is fair because it taxes people according to their ability to pay. In their study, Oishi et al. (2018) indicated an outcome (1972–2014; N = 59,599) that determined a positive correlation between higher progressive taxation and reduced income inequality. Essentially, individuals who earn more money have a higher ability to pay taxes than people who earn less.
The validity, Reliability, and Possible Biases
The article by Khullar & Chokshi (2018) is based on a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This is a reliable source of information, and the study appears to be valid. However, the study did not control for all possible confounding factors, such as education level and employment status. This calls for future research on how a combination of these factors impacts poverty and income inequality.
The article by Oishi et al. (2018) is based on a study that used data from the World Happiness Report, which is considered to be valid and reliable. However, there are some potential biases that should be considered. First, the data is self-reported, which means that it is possible that people may not be honest about their income levels. Besides, the data only reflects the opinions of those who participated in the study, which may not be representative of the entire population. Future research should target a wider population, including different population sects such as marginalized communities, women, children, and other nations.
The article by Minton & Giannarelli (2019) is based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which makes it reliable and valid. However, the article only looks at a few programs that help people living in poverty. There are many other programs, such as Medicaid, that provide assistance to low-income people, which should be included in future research.
Ethical Outcomes of Proposed Solutions
One positive ethical outcome that could result from implementing social safety nets is that it could provide a safety net for people who are at risk of falling into poverty, which can minimize the number of individuals living in poverty. However, if people become reliant on social safety nets, they may be less likely to work toward improving their economic situation (Bruch et al., 2018). This could lead to increased poverty and income inequality over time.
Targeted education programs could provide additional resources and support to struggling students, which could help to level the playing field and give all students an equal opportunity to succeed. A negative ethical outcome that could result from targeted education is that it could exacerbate existing inequalities if not implemented properly (Guo et al., 2019). For example, if resources are not evenly distributed among schools, or if the most struggling students are not given the necessary support, then targeted education could end up widening the achievement gap instead of closing it.
One positive ethical outcome is that healthcare investments could lead to improved health outcomes for individuals and communities. However, it could also lead to increased costs, which could place a burden on taxpayers. On the other hand, progressive taxation would help to even out the playing field and give everyone a fair chance. However, it could discourage people from working hard and making more money.
In conclusion, income inequality is negatively impacting economic growth, and the negative impact is more in countries with high poverty rates. As such, there is a need to introduce policies to alleviate poverty so that income inequality is reduced, such as social safety nets, targeted education, health care investments, and progressive taxation. Poverty and income inequality are significant problems to general society as they lead to various social ills, including unrest, lack of education, social and economic tensions, as well as resentment and envy. Although there are various perspectives regarding poverty and income inequality, there is a clear demand for a long-term sustainable solution. Through an assessment of various studies, there are various pragmatic measures, including social safety nets, targeted education, health care investments, and progressive taxation. These solutions seem quite plausible as they tackle the problem of poverty and income inequality from the roots, which makes them quite sustainable.
Beegle, K., Coudouel, A., & Monsalve, E. (Eds.). (2018). Realizing the full potential of social safety nets in Africa. World Bank Publications.
Brown, U., & Long, G. (2018). Poverty and welfare. In Social Welfare (pp. 19–34). Routledge.
Bruch, S. K., Meyers, M. K., & Gornick, J. C. (2018). The consequences of decentralization: Inequality in safety net provision in the post-welfare reform era. Social service review, 92(1), 3-35.
Dong, K., Dou, Y., & Jiang, Q. (2022). Income inequality, energy poverty, and energy efficiency: Who causes who and how?. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 179, 121622.
Guo, Y., Zhou, Y., & Liu, Y. (2019). Targeted poverty alleviation and its practices in rural China: A case study of Fuping county, Hebei Province. Journal of Rural Studies.
Jamison, D. T. (2018). Disease control priorities: improving health and reducing poverty. The Lancet, 391(10125), e11-e14.
Khullar, D., & Chokshi, D. A. (2018). Health, income, & poverty: Where we are & what could help. Health Affairs, 10.
Minton, S., & Giannarelli, L. (2019). Five things you may not know about the U.S. social safety net. Washington, DC: Urban Institute.
Mooney, L. A., Clever, M., & Van Willigen, M. (2021). Understanding social problems. Cengage learning.
Oishi, S., Kushlev, K., & Schimmack, U. (2018). Progressive taxation, income inequality, and happiness. American Psychologist, 73(2), 157.
Schwindt, R. (2021). The Links between Globalization, Poverty, and Income Inequality. Globalization, Poverty, and Income Inequality: Insights from Indonesia, p. 232.
Strader, E., & Misra, J. (2018). Poverty and income inequality: A cross-national perspective on social citizenship. The Cambridge Handbook of Social Problems, 1, 385-407.
Tanchev, S. (2021). How proportional income taxation increases inequality in Bulgaria. Journal of Tax Reform, 7(3), 244–254.
The American Dream and Income Inequality
Several developed nations are experiencing substantially higher income and wealth inequality, and the problem is growing, causing a national debate to intensify. Economic shocks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2008 financial crisis, and the slow and uneven recovery have worsened these trends. The ability to move upwards has long been a strength of American culture, but some signs suggest that American economic mobility tends to start disappearing. By creating large income and wealth gaps across racial groups, economic inequality affects the ability to achieve the “American Dream,” and ways to solve the problem include increased educational opportunities, higher minimum wage, and progressive income taxes.
Since the 1970s, income inequality has been on the rise in the United States as the high earners expand rapidly. There has been a disproportionate increase in income gains among high earners. The problem of an increasing income gap in American society is well known to all of us. The Census Bureau’s data are often used to illustrate the divide between the rich and the poor. According to them, “between 1967 and 2010, the share of national income going to the bottom 20% of households declined from 4% of the total to 3%, while for the top 20% of households during the same period, it rose from 44% to 50%” (Siripuraru). By 2018, the ratio of corporate CEOs to workers was 278:1, according to a progressive think tank. CEOs earned about twenty times as much as workers in 1965. Many fear that this distribution may not just be inherently unfair but may indicate that individuals are having an increasingly difficult time moving up due to a concentration of income and wealth at the top.
Having a clear notion of what economic mobility means is essential to understanding the supposed problem with the American Dream. Most Americans understand “economic mobility” as the development of a person’s standard of living in line with his skills and effort over time and with the generational rise in general living standards (Butler). In America, mobility has been reasonably robust according to this metric, which analysts call “absolute mobility.” American families in their forties and fifties in their forties and fifties have about 30% more income than the generations before.
Comparing individuals’ wealth and incomes with their own parents’ inflation-adjusted incomes and wealth. There is also robust mobility in that area. Across the income distribution, an average of almost 85% of Americans tend to have higher incomes now than their parents had at the same age, according to the “Pew Charitable Trust’s Economic Mobility Project” (Siripuraru). Furthermore, 93% of American adults with parents in the bottom quintile earn more than their parents did when they were adults.
There is a well-documented connection between ethnicity, race, and inequality. Black households have barely increased their wealth since 1960, while white households have tripled their wealth. There has been a significant difference between black and white unemployment for decades. Corporate leadership, as well as high-paying professions, are underrepresented among Black Americans. Fortune 500 companies will have only four black CEOs by the year 2020. Researchers found that American Indian and black children are less likely to achieve economic mobility than Asian, white, or Hispanic children.
The legacy of slavery and systemic racism underlie U.S. inequality today. Housing segregation, a major source of wealth, resulted from a New Deal policy called redlining in the 1930s, which led to mortgage denials for Black Americans (Putnam). The Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibits racial discrimination in housing, but its effects persist. The GI Bill, widely credited for boosting the middle class after World War II, was similarly unavailable to black Americans.
Children here inherit their parents’ relative income status more likely than in other countries since incomes at the top of the scale are “stickier.” Children in other countries have better prospects for economic advancement than children in American society because their parents’ money determines their futures more than their effort and abilities. It is believed that many countries, particularly those of Northern Europe, offer better economic opportunities compared to the United States. So, America no longer embodies the American Dream at its best.
High wages are usually earned by people working in jobs requiring high levels of education. Those in United States families with degrees earned nearly three times as much as those without, and those with a postgraduate earned nearly four times as much as those without. Compared to families without higher education, families with postgraduate degrees were nearly eight times wealthier in 2016. People without a high school diploma lived in poverty at a rate of 25 percent in 2015, compared to just 5% of people with a college diploma (Siriparu). While the United States attains higher education at higher rates than the OECD average, several other wealthy nations trail behind. Students’ debt should be eliminated, and tuition-free public colleges would reduce the cost of higher education and increase access. Warren and Sanders have proposed these policies to address the rising cost of college. Republican politicians, such as Trump, however, have advocated spending more federal funds on skills and trade training.
A further contributing factor to growing inequality is the repeated reduction in the top United States income tax rates over the last half-century. A top tax rate of more than 90 percent was in effect when President Kennedy entered the White House in 1961. There is a 37 percent top rate today (Putnam). Since President Ronald Reagan slashed taxes in the early 1980s, the top 1 percent’s share of income increased dramatically. Some experts argue that the gap between capital gains and income tax contributes to inequality since capital gains tax benefits the wealthy more than regular employment income.
According to Howard University’s Spriggs, a public posting of all jobs would help close the Black employment gap. Computer algorithms could help better match potential job seekers with job openings, and companies could encourage more Black students to establish themselves in Silicon Valley companies (Putnam). Additionally, Spriggs recommends that antidiscrimination laws be monitored and enforced more closely. It may also be possible to increase economic resilience by strengthening the social safety net, including a better sick leave policy, the provision of bigger unemployment benefits, and more job retraining programs.
According to experts, a lack of equality can stifle economic growth and foster political dysfunction. Richer households tend to spend less of their income compared to poorer ones, reducing the level of demand in the economy (DeVitis). It can also hurt the economy if low-income households have fewer opportunities. A weaker demand today and low growth in the future is a consequence of those at the bottom of the income distribution not reaching their full potential.
In conclusion, economic inequality reduces the ability to achieve the “American Dream” by creating racial and economic wealth gaps. The solution would be to enact a more progressive income tax, expand educational opportunities, and raise the minimum wage. It is the government’s responsibility to ensure the American Dream is valid and can be achieved. In addition to church-based social-welfare programs and grassroots outreach, government programs have marginalized or diminished the culture that supported them. There were multiple ways in which this process occurred.
Butler Stuart. “Can the American Dream Be Saved? National Affairs. Retrieved from https://www.nationalaffairs.com/publications/detail/can-the-american-dream-be-saved
Siripuraru Anshu. The USA inequality debate. Council on foreign relations. https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/us-inequality-debate#chapter-title-0-9
Putnam, Robert D. Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis. First Simon & Schuster hardcover ed., Simon & Schuster, 2015.
DeVitis, Joseph L, and John Martin Rich. The Success Ethic, Education, and the American Dream. State University of New York Press, 1996. Accessed 5 Aug. 2022.