Most Americans are working much harder for much less, and that is why we have the largest income inequality since the Great Depression. In America, we strive to move forwards, not backwards. But making the rich richer by making the poor poorer is stagnating our economy and crushing the dreams of hardworking Americans. It’s time to do something about income inequality.
Attack: There’s nothing wrong with hardworking Americans making a good living
Response: You’re right! We agree with you. But last year, corporate profits were the highest in 60 years and corporate taxes were their lowest in 40 years. Those profits are largely the result of poorly paid workers who make the products and deliver the services that make companies successful. Massive corporations have the money to pay their workers better, but they choose not to and instead line the pockets of executives with multi-million dollar bonuses while their workers struggle to put food on the table. Over the last 35 years, CEO pay has increased 875% (accounting for inflation), while the average worker pay has only risen 5%
Attack: The poorest Americans are poor because they’re lazy.
Response: One of the best indicators that someone is poor in America is that they are working more than one job and more than 40 hours a week. The men and women who work two (or three!) low-wage jobs to put money on the table are the opposite of lazy. They are some of the hardest workers in America. Not only is poverty hard work, it’s also expensive. Struggling families are more likely to pay higher rates for banking, loans, and healthcare, to live in areas without access to affordable fresh food, and to have as much as 40% of their income go to childcare so that parents can work. When a full time minimum wage job only pays $15k a year, the working poor can’t afford to be lazy.
Attack: In America, if people work hard, they can get ahead.
Response: This is the American Dream, and it’s something we should all be fighting to preserve. But today people are having to work harder and harder not to get ahead, but just to not fall behind. The United States falls behind countries like Nigeria in terms of income inequality and has among the lowest rates of social mobility of developed nations. A child born in the bottom 20 percent has a 1 in 20 chance of making it to the top income brackets while a child born in the top 20 percent as a 2 in 3 chance of staying there.
Attack: We live in capitalist America, not communist China
- Over the last 35 years, CEO pay has increased 875% (accounting for inflation), while the average worker pay has only risen 5%
- 120% of the gains of the economic recovery have gone to the richest 1%, which means that the 99% went back into recession so that the wealthiest few could come out better in 2010 and 2011
- Two-thirds of American workers in low-wage jobs are employed by large companies with over 100 employees, not small businesses. Of the 50 largest employers of workers in low-wage jobs, more than 90% were profitable in 2011. They also paid their top executives an average of $9.4 million in 2011.
- A child born in the bottom 20 percent has a 1 in 20 chance of making it to the top income brackets while a child born in the top 20 percent as a 2 in 3 chance of staying there.
- With a 12.9 percent chance that children raised in the bottom fifth income bracket will reach the top, San Jose, CA has the highest rate of upward mobility for US metro areas. Charlotte NC has is the lowest upwardly mobile city at 4.4%.
- 32.3 million children live in low-income families and 1.6 million experience homelessness every year.
- The tax rate for the wealthy is now half what it was 35 years ago, about the lowest since 1932.
- Isaiah 1:23: “Everyone loves a bribe and runs after gifts. They do not defend the cause of the fatherless. The widow’s cause does not come before them.”
- No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. – 1 Corinthians 10:24
- Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” – Matthew 19:21
- If he has a son who is violent, a shedder of blood, who does any of these things (though his father does none of them), who eats upon the mountains, defiles his neighbor’s wife, oppresses the poor and needy, commits robbery, does not restore a pledge, but lifts up his eyes to the idols and commits abomination, he lends money on interest and takes increase; will he live? He will not live! He has committed all these abominations, he will surely be put to death; his blood will be on his own head. – Ezekiel 18:10-13
- Nor shall you glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger. I am the Lord your God. –Leviticus 19:10