Time to put Main Street ahead of Wall Street
Job growth, tax policies, education opportunity key to leveling playing field
This editorial ran in the Sept. 20 Dallas Morning News.
Two years ago, Occupy Wall Street grabbed headlines with street corner protests and sit-ins against wealth and income inequality. Even if their strategies were wrong, they got some stuff right.
Every American should be greatly disturbed that income and wealth gaps are the largest since the Roaring Twenties. It’s time for Washington policymakers to focus on solutions instead of partisan polemics. Smart regulation, better tax policies, education, functioning free markets and access to economic opportunity are the answers, not Robin Hood policies of income redistribution.
Society is never going to be economically homogenous, nor should it be. After all, the American Dream is built on aspirations. The problem is not that the wealthy are extremely wealthy, but that middle-class Americans are drifting further back in the pack and lower-income citizens are falling behind even faster.
Consider this: Among the top one percent of earners, incomes grew 31.4 percent between 2009 and 2012, the years immediately after the financial crisis. For the rest of America, incomes grew less than half a percentage point in that time.
The nation’s economic competitiveness depends on a financially secure middle class that is able to make and consume products. Without the large market that comes from a stable middle class, companies wouldn’t have buyers for their products. Without a skilled labor force, employers wouldn’t have much incentive to innovate. Today’s wide disparity breeds a level of cynicism that erodes democracy’s social fabric.
While there is no magic bullet, several reforms could spur broadly based economic growth and help narrow the gap.
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