More Inequality Less Opportunity

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“The deck is stacked against low-income Americans–African Americans and Latinos in particular…  The economic ladder no longer works for a growing number of Americans.”             –Rana Foroohar, Time magazine columnist

“The dirty secret of America in 2015 is that the wealth gap between whites and everyone else is far worse than most people would guess,” according to Foroohar.

A 2014 study by Duke University and the Center for Global Policy Solutions, Washington D.C., found that the median amount of liquid wealth (assets that can easily be turned into cash) held by African-American households was $200.  For Latino households it was $340. The median for white households: $23,000.  “Why?” she asks.

  • Many nonwhites, along with women and younger workers of all races, have little or no access to formal retirement-savings plans.
  • Nonwhites were hit harder in the mortgage crisis, in part because housing is where the majority of them keep most of their assets.
  • The U.S. economy continues to be stuck in a slow, volatile recovery.

This is very bad news for an America that will be “majority minority” by 2043.   And income inequality is shaping up to be the key economic issue of the 2016 congressional and presidential campaigns, Foroohar predicts.  How do we foster a system of capitalism that more equitably distributes wealth?

  • One way, she believes, to help lower income families is to change home lending practices to allow for a broader range of credit metrics and lower down payments for good borrowers.
  • Another, make retirement program participation mandatory for all workers.
  • And expand Social Security by lifting the cap on payroll taxes so higher income workers can contribute the same share of their income as everyone else.

At Horizonte, Salt Lake City School District’s alternative high school and adult education center, economic fairness and racial fairness are the same.  All are provided a new beginning and a chance to grasp and climb the socioeconomic ladder.