The BBC is reporting that the average Wall Street bonus, on top of average salary, rose 15 percent last year, to $164,540. Meanwhile, here in Yates County in the heart of New York’s 23rd, the average annual salary was $28,800 in 2012. The average citizen of Yates would have to work 5.7 years just to earn what the average Wall Streeter takes home in one year as a tip.
We have a problem with inequality in the United States, and it’s getting worse. In 2012, the incomes of the richest 1 percent rose by 20 per cent, while incomes for the rest of us rose by an average of just 1 per cent. Those wealthiest of Americans are going to be able to secure the finest possible educations for their children, set them up for life, and pass on the vast bulk of their wealth to them, thanks to America’s low inheritance taxes.
In Yates County, 26 per cent of children are living in poverty. Nationwide, 45 per cent of children are in low income families, with low income defined as $44,700 per year for a family of four. How do their opportunities in life compare to those of the children of Wall Streeters, or to the opportunities available to the children of other wealthy Americans.
President Obama has undertaken several measures to try to reduce inequality. The Affordable Care Act is a major accomplishment in this regard, no thanks to our congressman, Rep. Tom Reed. Last week, Reed voted in favor of the 50th attempt by House Republicans to derail the ACA. We can be sure that Reed won’t be supporting President Obama’s efforts to raise the minimum wage; nor will he support programs to spend more on education or revitalizing infrastructure — both essential to boosting employment and education.
Martha Robertson, the Democratic Party candidate for Congress in the 23rd, published an article in the Ithaca Journal on March 8 that made clear how different her stance would be on inequality. Here are some excerpts.
“I’m running for Congress to help break the gridlock that’s prevented America from building a stronger economy that benefits everyone. Government can’t do it alone; we must forge public/private partnerships and bipartisan alliances to address the top issues facing us: creating high-quality jobs, prioritizing education, and protecting Medicare and Social Security….”
“We can immediately create quality jobs by investing in our crumbling bridges and roads, and in access to the Internet. I will vote to help small businesses, because small businesses like the one I grew up in, Liberty Nursery, have created two-thirds of the new jobs over the past 20 years….”
“We must reinvest in our people – from pre-kindergarten and access to higher education, to job training for the unemployed. Education is the pathway to economic mobility; if we don’t prepare our kids for next generation jobs, we will all fail. As the bumper sticker says, “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance….”
“I will work tirelessly for the people of the 23rd District to make sure that these critical issues — job creation, education, and Medicare and Social Security — are our top priorities. Let’s get to work and create an economy that includes everyone.”
Martha Robertson will work tirelessly to promote equality of opportunity throughout the 23rd — and that’s yet another reason to give her your vote on November 4.