America faces income inequality, political polarization, and dysfunctional governance.
Rose Prince

2018-05-17 07:41:00 Thu ET

Has America become a democratic free land of crumbling infrastructure, galloping income inequality, bitter political polarization, and dysfunctional governance? Key measures of American public engagement, satisfaction, and confidence are near historic low rates. These measures encompass voter turnout, general knowledge of socioeconomic public policy issues, and individual respect for basic government institutions.

U.S. infrastructure needs a comprehensive upgrade as income inequality soars in America. After some adjustment for U.S. CPI core inflation, the middle-class wages have been nearly frozen over the past 4 decades in America, whereas, the top 1% upper-class income triples over the same time frame.

Family stock ownership concentration also exacerbates U.S. economic inequality in comparison to OECD standards. The government bails out banks and millions of Americans lose their homes and jobs in the recent decade during the subprime mortgage crisis from 2008 to 2009.

The gradual economic recovery produces pecuniary fruits exclusively for the rich. In stark contrast, the bottom 99% population experiences an income uptick of less than half of 1%. Only the American democracy that discards its major mission of holding the social community together would produce these inadvertent results and consequences.

In a positive light, however, there are more socioeconomic opportunities available nowadays for women, non-whites, and other minorities. Technological advances and miracles happen in U.S. labs, world-class universities, and tech startups that specialize in robotic automation, medical diagnosis and treatment, data analysis and visualization, or artificial intelligence.

Despite this positive progress, the U.S. meritocratic class continues to master the old trick of passing socioeconomic advantages and privileges from one generation to the next. The resultant hereditary elite income and wealth concentration harms social mobility to the harsh detriment of many minorities and immigrants in America. Greater social mobility requires a reasonable reversal of fortune via progressive capital taxation, inclusive education, universal healthcare, ubiquitous employment, social security, and less crony capitalism (such as family ownership concentration).

 


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