Clearly, we, Americans, have a problem. While we have many issues to be with which to be concerned, the growing inequality gap is one of our most critical issues. This issue must be improved immediately because as the wealthy grow wealthier, the American Dream becomes less and less tangible for those not born into a middle class or upper class family. In fact, the late Nelson Mandela has stated that, “Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity; it is an act of justice.” However, the cruel reality in America does not support this profound – and true – statement. Last year in America, the 46.5 million Americans were living in poverty. Within these 46.5 million Americans, 16.1 million children and 3.9 million senior citizens lived in poverty. In fact, our childhood poverty rate is one of the highest, besides that of Romania. This is unacceptable – especially if similar issues have occurred within a little over a decade ago.
As I mentioned earlier, America has experienced economic inequality for several decades throughout American history. This theme of an increasingly wide inequality gap is central to the “Gilded Age,” a term given by Mark Twain in his remarking that this time was tarnished. Similar to our current situation, wealth was in the hands of a few – the incredibly wealthy business owners. Additionally, workers had very few rights and easily could be replaced. The cities were overrun by the ghettos and crime.
One would believe America would learn from its past of economic inequality, but this is far from the case. America’s policies and attitudes are not reflecting our vast knowledge of the Gilded Age and the Progressive Reforms to alleviate some of the economic injustice occurring at the time. For this reason, not only are we experiencing the issues of the Gilded Age, but we are experiencing those same issues (but in an elevated sense) and new issues that have risen from racism, education issues, affirmative action in education and employment, and many other current issues.
For these reasons and many more, I present you with a charge: to demand economic equality in order to close the inequality gap. Maybe then will Americans be able to reach the American Dream.