The only way to reduce side effect of income inequality is to increase it
Americans are generous; all the Americans donated 427 billion in 2019. The most significant charity companies are also in the United States, such as the United Way or Red Cross. However, the actual number of giving to charity has been falling for almost 15 years. The only reason for that is – that income inequality among the United States has risen for the last few decades.
Everyone knows what income inequality is; however, most middle-class people do not care about this, as they can live a comfortable consumerism life. Living in a suburban house and lying on the sofa after a day of hard work, most people will not concern about how the lowest income people suffered. The topics people concern in the 2020 election are Healthcare, National Security, and Climate Change, which can briefly cover what the most middle classes are concerning about the future of the United States. Indeed, it is hard to tell whether everyone will live a better life under a utopian society, and income inequality will not influence most people’s life. I am not here today to call for getting everyone to put this as the most critical issue.
On the contrary, I personally benefit from this system, so I personally wish this inequality to keep. However, income inequality has increased for many years. In 2016, the average market income was $15,600 for the lowest quintile and $280,300 for the highest quintile. The degree of inequality accelerated within the top quintile, with the top 1% at $1.8 million, approximately 30 times the $59,300 income of the middle quintile.
Income inequality is similar to carbon pollution, which will influence everyone in the society. As the greenhouse effect, farmers are affected by the severe weather that will cause the price of food to rise, so the mass majority will face a more expensive food market. The situation is the same in income inequality, as this will indirectly influence the mass majority through ways like increasing crime rate. We all know the most criminals are born in poor; the inequality distribution of chance and wealth causes them to step into crime and to hurt innocent people. Just as catholic teaching: as far as possible punishment should contribute to the correction of the offender (Catechism of the Catholic Church,) the best way to correct criminal is to put them into a circumstance without crime; however, we cannot achieve that within a great income inequality society. Therefore, to every single person, income inequality is crucial.
The most controversial point about the income inequality is most of the top 1% have a dad who was also in the top 1%. I disagree with this point, as I know many wealthy people; they have a heavy burden on their shoulders. They are free, but they are taught to choose the hardest way. The difference between the rich and pauper is the rich have to do anything progressive; they cannot fall into the life of day in and day out. They are worth with anything they have. However, the greatest point of income inequality is the poor have no chance to become such a “worthy” person. Despite family education, the cost of high-level education is unaffordable for the most family. For instance, if a middle-class student wants to become a doctor, which may be lead him to become the top 20%, he must pay 60,000 dollars per year to study in medical school. After six years of studying, he can finish his undergraduate degree, but there are 3-4 years of graduate degrees for him. Moreover, if he wants to be a psychiatrist or other specialist, he will take a few more years of study after finishing undergraduate degrees. For the upper-class people, they can afford the cost, but what about lower-class people? In the movie, Parasite, which won the best pictures, the best movies, the best directing, and the best original writing, the movie describes the rich as kind and competent people while describes the poor as deceitful people. The reality is income inequality causes some people born as “worthy” or “unworthy” in this society.
Men are born free and equal as well; however, they have to pay for their unreasoning jealous and looking down. A billionaire in Beverly Hills would not view a high school dropout in Southern Chicago as a “human,” which is not because the high school student chooses to drop school; it is because the dropout is born poor. An unpleasant word you may not want to hear: the poor people suck; they suck because they are poor. Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee, the Nobel Prize in Economics winner in 2019, discussed a question in his book, POOR ECONOMICS: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty, is why poor people choose to buy television rather than pure water. There is a voice of condemning poor people spending much money with a subsidy to cure their disease rather than do more exercise or do regular body checks with a little money. That is because the poor people are living in scarcity situations so that they cannot make the long-term investment like exercise or education.
There is no way to reduce income inequality, which is harsh, but there are some ways to reduce the harm of it. Taxing and redistribution of wealth are useless, as every country is imposing the tax, but there is income inequality increasing. Rather to solve wealth inequality, the government should solve consuming inequality. It is way easier to solve income inequality as the gap between this inequality. People, whether rich or poor, have comparably less gap between their consumption demand. As long as they can meet their basic demand of living, health, education, and spiritual life, the side effect of income inequality will decrease. However, ironically, anything that helps reduce consumption inequality helps increase income inequality. Now, the income inequality issue is large than ever in the U.S.; the highest-earning 20% of families made more than half of all U.S. income in 2018. However, the standard of living index is also the highest.
Moreover, if we look back to history, the great inequality distribution of wealth starts as the colonial era, but there have not any uprising due to starvation since then. After that, there is not any peasant revolt is due to famine, as the exploration of new wealth and technology provides everyone the basic needs of food. In the 60s-80s, the prosperity in Wall Street increased income inequality. Still, people in that era firstly drove cars on the highway across the country and watched television in their suburban house. In the 21st century, the emergence of Silicon Valley is still increasing income inequality, but everyone in the United States starts to own a phone. Without these monopolies, we will not have class at home through zoom under coronavirus. Indeed, the number of the poor is still increasing, but pauper in the United States has a better life compared to the past.
Still, it is not enough. Although the government is providing basic needs to all the poor, the quality of that is horrible. Foods, for instance, is a big issue. The obesity rate in the world is the highest in history, and most obesity population has low income. However, it is impossible to tell the poor to give up fast food. Actually, poor people buy MacDonald is not because it is cheap, but it is convenient, fast, and delicious. The low income of their job forces them to take multiple jobs, so they have no energy to deal with foods. Therefore, the government needs to impose acts on the fast-food industries to force them to cook in more healthy ways. Moreover, the government should also fund some healthy restaurants, so the poor can consume healthier foods.
In general, the income inequality is almost an impossible issue to be solved. Although we can reduce some of the side effects by reducing the gap between consume inequality and provide better basic needs to the poor, the poor are still living in poor, as so to most of their offspring. The real inequality of this society is the chance to be a success. Even if someday, all the poor can eat healthy foods and study in school without drugs, they are still “unworthy.”