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The Difference Between Rich and Poor is Becoming Greater

November 26, 2012
Plain English Version


“Inequality” means unequal. Star athletes and Wall Street traders are paid millions of dollars. Workers at fast food restaurants are paid the minimum wage.

The difference in income between the rich and the non-rich is growing. One percent of the U.S. population collects more than 17 percent of all the income. The income of the middle-class has actually gone down during the past ten years.

What causes the inequality and why is it growing? The people who get the most money earn the most money for people paying them in the first place. Athletes fill ballparks and gain big profits for owners. That is the simple part.

The more complicated answer is that workers in America are competing with workers from all over the world. As long as workers earn lower wages in China, American workers are not going to get higher wages for doing the same work. .

If American workers are going to improve their incomes, they will have to do it by using their skills and technology to out-produce workers in other countries.

The real question is not whether inequality is good or bad, but what can be done to reduce it.

Everyone agrees that education and training are key issues. Should two years of learning at a community college be added to the 12 years of public education?

Should the public pay for training workers while they are on the job?  Or should it pay for retraining and upgrading their skills?

In Europe, programs make it easier to live with lower wages and interruptions in employment. In some countries workers and companies put aside money to pay workers to lessen the impact of lost jobs or shorter workweeks.

In a free market economy, ending inequality is not the goal. Smart government and business practice is to reduce the differences between the very rich and very poor.

The New York Times

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