Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Income Inequality is Costing the US on Social Issues

Over the past few years income inequality has become a major topic of discussion within our society. Now this income inequality as shown in this NY Times article, Porter believes that income inequality is costing the US on social issues. 

Thirty-five years ago, the United States ranked 13th among the 34 industrialized nations that are today in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in terms of life expectancy for newborn girls. These days, it ranks 29th.

“On nearly all indicators of mortality, survival and life expectancy, the United States ranks at or near the bottom among high-income countries,” says a report on the nation’s health by the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine.

What’s most shocking about these statistics is not how unhealthy they show Americans to be, compared with citizens of countries that spend much less on health care and have much less sophisticated medical technology. What is most perplexing is how stunningly fast the United States has lost ground.

Three or four decades ago, the United States was the most prosperous country on earth. It had the mightiest military and the most advanced technologies known to humanity. Today, it’s still the richest, strongest and most inventive. But when it comes to the health, well-being and shared prosperity of its people, the United States has fallen far behind.
Pick almost any measure of social health and cohesion over the last four decades or so, and you will find that the United States took a wrong turn along the way.

 As our government continues argues over the budget deficit and the national debt, debate as  to what our country should do about income inequality and the minimum wage are not being answered. Our society is blaming globalization and technological progress for the stagnation of the middle class and the precipitous decline in our collective health is too easy. Jobs were lost and wages got stuck in many developed countries. 

Do you think that these are reasons why the US is falling behind other countries on social issues? Or do you think that there are other reasons for our social decline?


  1. This is a sad concept. I don't think the US has priorities straight in regard to this problem. The people making decisions aren't negatively impacted by these social issues so I think it's partially a problem of a lack of care. The article mentions education as a common ground between conservatives and liberals as a "standard prescription". Unfortunately, we know that this is not enough to overcome the gap that exists today, although some mistakenly believe it is plenty. To answer your questions, I think one of the reasons this is so bad in the US is (policies aside) we have such extreme political polarization. No one can agree on anything and solutions don't occur because they can't "make everyone happy". I like how the author ends it, we are destine to have a dysfunctional future and we will be forced to come together.

  2. Like Cameron said, it is a sad fact that currently existing. The polarization of politics really poses a problem here aside from dealing with the financial crisis. I think both political parties alike would want to see healthcare for all citizens but the means of accomplishing it are completely opposite. Liberals lean towards government intervention in providing healthcare while Conservatives want it to be citizens' responsibility. It is a challenging problem to overcome and I think that the financial crisis has only exacerbated this problem.

  3. I certainly think that issues of income inequality and huge wage gaps in the US contribute to the drastic fall in our country's stance on social issues. Many other high-income countries are doing a much better job of fighting income inequality and raising wages for lower and middle class citizens to better allow access to higher quality health, education, and general life styles. Somehow the US needs to move past political issues and certain mindsets that are keeping us in this rut of social inequality and start acting like the leader of the developed world that is so claims to be.

  4. I believe that giant wage gaps and income inequality have led to the fall of the US's health nationwide. I do believe that education can help, but education alone cannot fix this issue. The US needs to get over the political issues; our political parties are never able to achieve anything because they simply won't agree with one another. These issues need to be resolved somehow in order to fight for income equality and better health, education and overall lifestyles for US citizens.

  5. I agree with what all the above commentators have stated. I do think that allowing citizens who are of middle and lower class socioeconomic status to have access to better education opportunities as well as creating accessibility and making access to healthcare affordable, to being ways in which the U.S. government can reduce the inequality and wage gap within the country. Yes, I think that the division that exist within the U.S. political system to attributing to this country's current inequality as well as present of the wage gap. However, I also think that one of the root cause of this country's existing income inequality and wage gap, as being the direct result of an non-inclusive governmental structural system. In my personal opinion, I believe that the foundation of the U.S. government structural system (i.e., that was not initially intended to protect and serve in the best interest of these groups) as being a reason this country continues to experience income inequalities and experience wage gap.