Inequality for All

220px-Robert_Reich_in_Inequality_for_AllInequality for All is a 2013 documentary film narrated by former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich. The movie explains that the 400 richest Americans now own more wealth than the bottom 150 million combined. Reich explores what effects this gap has not only on the US economy but also on democracy. At the heart of the film is a simple idea: What is a good society and what role does the widening income gap play in the deterioration of the nation’s health?

Reich explains that during the period of prosperity starting in the 1940s, income inequality was low, unions were strong, wages were high, jobs were plentiful, tax revenues were adequate, and education was affordable. In the 1970s something went wrong–wages became stagnant due to globalization. This set off a viscous cycle:

  • Low wages
  • Inadequate Family income
  • Declining demand for goods and services
  • Unemployment
  • Declining tax revenue
  • Lower wages

This development, Reich claims, threatens the very existence of the middle class in America. However, for a time, people struggled to compensate in three ways:

  1. Women went to work
  2. Workers worked overtime often at more than one job
  3. People assumed more debt

Reich explains that these opportunities are now exhausted so that many can no longer afford a middle class life.

Reich claims that the resulting income inequality is bad for everyone, rich and poor alike:

  1. When the economy suffers, business can’t prosper.
  2. Social mobility declines–children born to poor families are more likely to remain poor.
  3. Democracy is threatened by money in politics.
  4. Social order is threatened by growing discontent.

Reich concludes that the world has changed. We fell victim to a simplistic lie–that the free market is good. and government is bad. In reality, government makes the rules that allow the market to work and decides who benefits from those rules.

© William Hungerford – November 2014

http://www.theguardian.com/film/2013/feb/02/inequality-for-all-us-economy-robert-reich

http://fiscalpolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/FPI-Pulling-Apart-Nov-15-20121.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About whungerford

* Contributor at NewNY23rd.com where we discuss the politics, economics, and events of the New New York 23rd Congressional District (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, (Eastern) Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben,Tioga, Tompkins, and Yates Counties) Please visit and comment on whatever strikes your fancy.
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10 Responses to Inequality for All

  1. whungerford says:

    Concerning the idea of returning manufacturing here, which Tom Reed’s “make it here, sell it there” mantra reflects, Reich explains that manufacturing done here won’t be labor intensive. labor intensive work will be done where wages are low. Even though much labor intensive work is done in China, most profits accrue elsewhere.

  2. Anne says:

    Beyond his lip service to the idea of manufacturing, Reed seems pretty short on specifics about how to make that a reality. (Again, his lack of ingenuity is the most obvious thing about him, now that he’s had his weight loss surgery.) Does anyone know exactly what it is he proposes, other than drill for gas?

  3. whungerford says:

    Cut corporate taxes, rescind regulations, bend over backward for lobbyists.

  4. josephurban says:

    To be fair, you have to admit that the top 400 wealthiest build all the cars, trains, highways, schools, crops, meat products, etc. They may have wealth but with their 24 hour a day 7 day a week hard laboring they have no time to enjoy those riches. While the bottom 150,000,000 are simply takers. Sit around. they don’t produce anything.

  5. Anne says:

    …he understands that none of those have anything to do with actual manufacturing, right?

  6. Anne says:

    I get exhausted just thinking about what their lives must be like.

  7. whungerford says:

    Apparently not.

  8. Barbara Griffin says:

    Ha!Ha!Ha! I saw the documentary, by the way, and it is excellent.

  9. BOB McGILL says:

    actually the top 400 seem to have lost ground, 20 years ago the top 400 owned more than the entire population

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