Especially after reading Piketty, I think we all have, at least to some extent, agreed that income inequity and wealth disparity exists and are growing problems in the US. As Piketty points out with his use of literary references, there are many ways that the failures of our financial and economic systems impact people, particularly those already most vulnerable.
This article, particularly the video that shares stories of people experiencing homelessness in Brooklyn, reminded me of the real importance of why we should spend a lot of time talking about inequality in economics.
We have looked a lot at how risks at the top are incentivized, but this article demonstrates how those at the bottom are also in a different way incentivized to take risks that keep them there. How can we ever have a meritocracy if there are people without their most basic needs met? Where we incentivize addiction?
“Mr. Bush signed up for a drug-treatment program and emerged nine months later determined to stay sober. But the man who ran the house, Yury Baumblit, a longtime hustler and two-time felon, had other ideas.
Mr. Baumblit got kickbacks on the Medicaid fees paid to the outpatient treatment programs that he forced all his tenants to attend, residents and former employees said. So he gave Mr. Bush a choice: If he wanted to stay, he would have to relapse and enroll in another program. Otherwise, his bed would be given away.”
How do you see this article in relation to our class? What does it say about our society that we use taxpayer money to rescue banks, but not to put people in a situation where they are actually capable of working to meet their most basic needs? Do you think that these individuals are at fault for their addictions and homelessness, or is it the fault of the government for not better regulating their housing programs and other organizations’ programs that supposedly are working to end homelessness? As we will be graduating soon, what can we do going forward to work against income and wealth inequity?