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INTRODUCTION

The debate over the income gap in the United States is nothing new. However, in recent years, the gaps between the wealthy and indigent and the privileged and underprivileged have widened to levels that have not been seen in several decades. The United States has reached a state in which the majority of wealth and power is being held by an elite upper class. Simply put, the rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer; and the middle class, which has been the backbone of our great nation, is shrinking.

America was founded on principles of equal opportunity. These principles have made our nation an example of freedom and democracy for centuries. Everyone has the right to vote, the right to own real estate, everyone can gain the privilege to drive, and anyone can pursue their professional goals in any field of their choice. However, the America in which we live today is reinforcing inequality every day. For every billionaire, there are millions of people who are working 40 to 80 hours each week, while just being able to make ends meet. For every billionaire, there are hundreds of thousands of people living on the streets or in homeless shelters. For every billionaire, there are scores of students and recent college graduates living in debt because of the increasingly high tuition costs, which make socioeconomic mobility for underprivileged youth nearly impossible. These are the realities, and the question isn’t whether or not these issues exist, the question is what policymakers choose to do about these issues, if anything.

Making sense of what inequality really means will help to properly manage expectations, while clarifying the targeted areas of interest. First, although income inequality is a global issue, we are narrowing the focus to a domestic problem for the sake of this report. Second, while we as a society try not to create class distinctions, the words “middle-class” and “one-percent” are often used to polarize the targeted audience (e.g., voters, investors, readers, etc.). Rather than focus on using buzzwords like “Top one percent” to prompt a reaction, this report will be more harmonious and less polarizing in nature. Third, can anything be done about such a complex problem? This report will try to outline some possible steps in the public and private sectors that may help deal with income inequality and its significance in America. It is important to understand that these issues are very complex and it will take a true bipartisan effort from both Democrats and Republicans to create real solutions to this growing issue.

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Photo Credit: Up – Skid Row – Los Angeles – Jorge Gonzalez – Flickr-  macabrephotographer