September 26, 2013

The New American Dream: Inequality for All?

By Taylor O’Brien, Operations Manager & Policy Specialist, Americans for Tax Fairness

The gap in income between the wealthiest Americans and the rest of us is the greatest it has been since before the Great Depression. A struggling economy, soaring corporate profits, reduced bargaining power of workers and an unfair tax code have made the rich a lot richer and the poor poorer.

In the new film “Inequality for All,” directed by Jacob Kornbluth and opening in 23 cities across the country this weekend, narrator Robert Reich makes the dangers of growing income inequality personal. I got the chance to go to a special screening of the film this week put on by the Center for American Progress and was blown away. The stories of struggling Americans drowning in an economic system rigged against them touched my heart and inspired me to action.

It is not just a movie about statistics, money and graphs. This is about your neighbors, your coworkers and your family.

Find a theater and go see it for yourself.

Over the last 40 years, federal income tax rates on the wealthiest Americans have declined, even as their incomes have skyrocketed. This declining progressivity in the tax code means that the more money the very rich make, the smaller the share they pay in taxes. While middle-class Americans struggle to even get by at all, the wealthiest one percent are thriving even more.

To add insult to injury, economic power and political power go hand in hand. With money comes the ability to control politics through influence, campaign contributions and lobbying. Those who are benefiting from a rigged system play a huge hand in writing the policies that affect us all. With money playing such an integral role in political influence, income inequality will only continue to grow unless we do something about it.

So what can we do? We take action. We make our voices heard. We contact our representatives and let them know we need progressive tax reform.

When asked what country does it better, Reich — former U.S. Secretary of Labor in the Clinton Administration — always responds with, “The United States. 50 years ago.” We’ve done it before, and we can do it again.

Go see “Inequality for All” and get involved in the fight.