A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a column declaring that "Huge inequalities in income are not inevitable." It was based on recent reports that showed lopsided income growth has not been the norm throughout U.S. history. In fact, the report notes, inequality declined in this country in the four decades between the 1940s and the 1970s. During that time, the lowest wage earner as well as the highest paid CEO saw similar growth in incomes.
But between 1979 and 2007 that changed, with the top 1 percent seeing the bulk of the increase in income. Between 2009 and 2011, the 1 percent got all the income growth in 26 states including North Carolina and South Carolina. The recession hit some particularly hard. But not the 1 percent who laid off workers while raking in big profits. Policy choices and cultural forces combined to put downward pressure on the wages and incomes of most Americans even as their productivity rose. The report's authors noted that the lopsided income growth had a big negative impact on the middle class.
Not everyone agreed with me or the reports I cited. But one writer who did, a self-identified conservative, provides an insightful look at how this issue is affecting real people. Here's his letter, which he agreed to let me post:
- Associate Editor Fannie Flono