by Najma Jama
At a Glance: quick snippets and opinions on incredibly complex social issues and discussions.
The occurrence of rampant poverty and extreme income inequality in modern society is highly dependent on historical, geographic, social, and political factors. Poverty, unlike the eugenicists of the early 20th century theorized, is not an inherent trait, nor is there a genetic link between success and failure in a capitalist society. The divisions that occur in socioeconomic classes correlate to race due to the social and political barriers throughout American history, barring the upward economic movement of many ethnic minorities, especially black and native groups. Housing discrimination, genocide, the lack of educational opportunities, and physical confinement (whether due to slavery, or the “modern Jim Crow” excessive incarceration) has left entire groups of Americans impoverished for generations.
The most important and relevant factor in the large income gaps that exist in post-Carter America is the tax code. Poverty could be remedied, or at least extreme cases of such, if Congress reverted to tax codes that championed the economic structure of pre-Vietnam America. The marginal tax rate of the top-income earners in the United States is abysmally low, while similar marginal income tax rates are found . Our government lacks rigor in regulating the economy as to benefit the poor, and they rather continuously make policies that slash the rights of labor unions and slash income tax for the top earners of the nation, many of which are living lavish lifestyles due to entrenched wealth from slavery. Instead of crafting a tax system that alleviates the income gap, congress would rather satisfy the big-donors that have placed them in office in the first place (perhaps another decision on Citizens United could incentivize political personnel that their loyalty exists to the public, not the private sector).
From the taxes collected, our spending on defense rather than funding education, healthcare, transportation systems, and clean energy industries has failed our poor population. Economic change starts as a top-bottom operation through the federal government, and if this simple feat could not be accomplished, then it’s only a matter of time before large swaths of people mobilize in rebellion against incompetence in the White House and Congressional sessions.