Income Disparity is Bad for America

If you’re wealthy, with millions of dollars in the bank and millions more net worth, some of the things you worry about might include: not having enough money to maintain a comfortable lifestyle in retirement, declining health, being sued, identity theft, and protecting your assets. Or you may worry whether or not your daughter is going to like the new Lexus you got for her for her birthday – or whether your son is partying at Stanford or Harvard or Yale – and not making the grades he’s expected to make – after all, you’re paying for his education.

Or, as Forbes reports (regarding those with yearly incomes of at least $500,000.00 or more): “Strikingly, what most concerned those polled was not being able to maintain and improve their current status and get ahead. This might come as a surprise because, well, they already are ahead.

Overall, 91% call “the luxury lifestyle” a key issue, 94% say the same was true of “the lifestyles of the exceptionally wealthy.” These exceed the 81% who say “not being able to meaningfully enhance” their current lifestyle is important, which is about the same level as “making sure your heirs are taken care of.”

As Russ Prince describes it, it’s the mindset of “I have the $5 million jet. I want the $10 million jet.” But he doesn’t see it as greed. Rather, he says, it’s simply a reflection of what everyone at every income level wants: something more.”

http://www.forbes.com/2007/05/22/wealth-rich-poll-biz_cx_lh_0523worry.html

But what about those “low-income” Americans who have incomes that range from the national average of about $52,000 to those struggling to make it on as little as $11,000 a year – or even less. Rather than worrying if their investment property is bringing in the $8 million that was projected – they worry  “I can’t afford to buy presents for my wife or child again this year.” or “If my car breaks down, how will I get to work? I can’t afford another used car, I don’t have the money. There is no bus or transit service within several miles of my home.” or “If my rent is raised another 15%, what will I do? I can’t afford to pay anymore, my rent is already costing over half my gross income. I can’t really afford to move, either, because it will take twice to three times what money I have available – just to move into another place – even into a low income apartment.”

Wealthy people – those with incomes of $500,000 per year or more – may have some legitimate worries, to be sure, but they pale in comparison to the worries and concerns of some of the poorest – and most vulnerable – people in our country. Those people include the elderly who, for whatever reason haven’t saved for retirement, because it took all they earned just to make ends meet ( housing costs are exceeding people’s ability to pay), or people who were displaced by being laid off from a company that “downsized” … or the poor working class and the disabled, most of whom can’t even compete for a “living wage” because of their advanced age and/or disabilities.

Income inequality is a very serious moral, ethical and practical issue facing far too many Americans – (especially Californians … I mention California, because that is where I live) – and it’s only getting worse, as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer – and the middle class is losing ground.

economyincrisis.org features an article addressing income inequality in the United States, and how it hurts America and Americans.
CNN Money also talks about income inequality and how it is bad for America.
The Washington Post also features an article about income disparity and its harmful effects.

There are many more news and blog articles addressing this issue in all media venues across the nation – and the world. Most of these articles address the macro, rather than the micro. The micro is what I will address throughout this blog – as one person’s thoughts and perspectives on how income disparity and poverty affect individuals. And I am sure I am one of many who feel similarly.

I am not rich or wealthy, and I never have been. So I am writing from the perspective of someone (a Veteran who is disabled) who has been struggling to survive in – what is for me and millions of other Americans – an increasingly economically hostile world.

I am not a professional journalist, so the way I express myself here may be somewhat raw and unpolished. It is my hope that whoever reads this blog tries to do so with an open mind and a desire to understand – or, even better, to try to imagine what it is like to be on the lower end of the income scale.

I will express my thoughts and feelings as well as I can – whether right or wrong. I am also interested in learning from others, so if you feel so compelled, you are quite welcome – and encouraged – to leave comments.

(In order to prevent the inevitable trolls and spammers, comments will need to be approved before they are posted, but I believe in free speech and will approve all comments – pro or con – as long as they are written in a mature, civil and responsible fashion.)

Thanks for reading.

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