Fifteen or so weeks ago, I knew nothing about wealth and income inequality. Over the course of the semester, this class has looked at the continuing issue from all sides, giving us all a pretty vast knowledge of just how bad is this problem.
If you’ve been keeping up with the blog (or even if you’ve just been clicking on the link to help us out), here are ten facts that I think everyone should take away from what we’ve all learned:
- The wealthiest 85 people on the planet have more money that the poorest 3.5 billion people combined.
- As of 2014, the poorest half of the earth’s population owns 1 percent of the earth’s wealth. The richest percent of the earth’s population owns 46 percent of the wealth.
- This 46 percent has only continued to grow since then.
- In this study of 34 countries, the United States has the second highest level of income inequality, falling behind Chile.
- The average white American’s median wealth is 20 times higher ($113,000) than the average African American ($5,600) and 18 times the Hispanic American ($6,300).
- Over 22 percent of all children in America currently live below the poverty line.
- The gender pay gap is very real. Today, women still only earn an average of 79 cents for every dollar that men do.
- The top 1 percent of earners has more than doubled their share of our country’s wealth from 1979 to today.
- More than half of the member who make up congress—aka where laws are passed regarding taxing the wealthy—are millionaires.
- Yet despite all of this, barely half (47 percent) of Americans think that this income gap is a serious problem.
This last fact, in my opinion, is the most important. Without awareness and without a population that cares about this issue, how can we expect anything to change?
The answer is that it won’t.
It’s up to the American people to get educated, to be aware and to make some kind of change. And while inequality may be inevitable to a certain extent, there are certainly steps we should consider—not just to close the gap here in America, but also worldwide.