Economic Inequality, and We’re Paying Attention

middle-class-001You’ve no doubt heard about the eroding middle class in our country.  The Wall Street Journal writes “A recent study by Cornell University researcher Kendra Bischoff and Stanford’s Sean Reardon finds that the share of families living in middle-income neighborhoods declined to 42% from 65% between 1970 and 2009.” 

And you’ve also heard that most of the wealth in the U.S. is held by only a small percentage of our population.  See US Wealth data from Wolff, 2010.  The middle class – in this case taken as the the 3rd and 4th quintiles – has lost wealth from 1985 (18%) to 2007 (15%).   And many are noticing.  See articles in the New York Times, the Business Insider, the L.A. Times.

What LWVBAE is Doing: Proposing a new study to LWVUS

We realize that there is no easy answer.  But we’re concerned.  At our Program Planning meeting in January, Pat Kuhi proposed that we review positions on economic inequality.  To learn what other Leagues are doing, we emailed all LWVs in country to find out their position on economic inequality, including minimum wage.  Our survey, to which about 45 Leagues responded, showed that one League–Kansas–at a living wage position, which covered government employees and for-profit companies that had government contracts or got special benefits.  A number of Leagues responded that they liked the idea of an economic inequality study; one was also making the same proposal.

Our decision was to propose as our first recommendation to LWVUS a study of Economic Inequality.  Our second recommendation was a concurrence with the state of Kansas living wage position.  You can read our full proposal here:1 Program Planning Proposal final

This is an incredibly important issue, since our democracy is truly based on a strong middle class.  If you would like to be part of this exciting new direction for our League, please let us know at votereditor@lwvbae.org .

 

 

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