The Causes of Income Inequality

Income inequality has risen during the last several decades to heights last seen in the 1920s. Most of the income growth has gone to a small fraction of the population, the ultra-rich elites, while real wages for the bottom 90 percent has been stagnant since the 1980s. The U.S. now ranks at, or near, the top of developed countries for income inequality. Job creation has lagged far behind population growth. Automation has erased some jobs, but corrupt, inept government leadership is responsible for the deplorable job- deficit-low wage situation.    

Trade agreements are one cause of job and wage reduction. Over the last twenty years, we’ve amassed $10 trillion in trade deficits and exported 12 million manufacturing jobs, forcing workers to move into lower-wage service jobs. Government brags about the free trade agreements, CAFTA, NAFTA, KORUS, and TPP. But the “free” applies only to the foreign trading partners, which manipulate their currencies, pay sweatshop workers low wages, manufacture under environmentally-toxic conditions, and restrict U.S. imports. We hand over our technology, good-paying jobs, product labeling, and safety guarantees -- all to enrich multinational corporations and foreign industry. Industrial research and development have been decimated as companies move overseas or outsource jobs, leaving the nation a future of little technological innovation. The U.S. is left with hollowed-out industries and service jobs. 

The federal government encourages the massive illegal and legal immigration that plays a huge role in job scarcity and income suppression for American workers. To paraphrase Milton Friedman, a viable economy cannot exist with open borders and unrestricted immigration. An oversupply of workers willing to work for less pay, the outsourcing of jobs, and visa-immigrant hiring allow companies to replace American workers with immigrants for reduced labor and benefit costs. A well-known example is that of Disney IT workers who were forced to train their cheaper immigrant replacements. It is no coincidence that the rise in immigration has occurred simultaneously with the rise of the welfare state. People unemployed, or in low-wage and part-time jobs, rely on government subsidies. The result is larger national debt, more corporate wealth, and declining wages.

ObamaCare influences, and will influence to greater degrees, the lowering of incomes for Americans as healthcare costs rise. Higher premiums and deductions for health insurance are being shifted to employees, reducing benefits and wages. Medical care costs already have risen much faster than wages, leaving many struggling to pay for necessities. Ever-higher deductions mean that people can’t afford to use the insurance they are forced to buy because they can’t even pay the deductions.        

Another contributor to job deficiency and wage stagnation is the increased regulation and taxation of small businesses instituted by Obama’s executive orders, EPA overreach, and ObamaCare. Small businesses traditionally have created two-thirds of new jobs annually. The bright spot in the economy, small businesses have created 78.7 percent of new jobs since the recession. Today, faced with these government anti-business policies, small businesses are closing their doors at a faster rate than new businesses are opening. The small businesses that remain open often don’t expand because of Obamacare and government regulations.

Income inequality is greatly impacted by the Federal Reserve’s policies of money-printing and zero interest rates, which have led to the funding of the financial and corporate markets while ignoring the needs of smaller businesses. The money supply and cheap lending has gone to the government, large corporations, and Wall Street, leaving the rest of the economy to sputter along with little capital and fewer jobs. The Fed’s policies of crony capitalism favor big business and big banks over that of smaller entities and are responsible for the increasing number of big business deals such as Walgreen's purchase of Rite Aid.

This government-driven, crony-capitalist economy defined by job scarcity and wage stagnation is the reason college graduates are burdened by $1.3 trillion debt, living with parents, can’t afford to marry or buy homes, and working as waitresses and bartenders. Job scarcity and low wages are the reasons we’re becoming a nation of renters rather than homeowners. They are the reasons that 51 percent of workers earn less than $30,000 a year. They are the reasons for the demise of the middle class and the burgeoning welfare rolls, the modern-day equivalent of slavery.    

Income inequality and its devastating consequences are seldom mentioned on the nightly news. The media and bogus government statistics paint rosy pictures about economic recovery, and government masks the bad economy with welfare so that we don’t see Great Depression bread lines. But the only recovery has been in the Federal Reserve’s inflated stock market, not in the main street economy, where 94 million working-age adults are unemployed and 47 million are on some welfare program. The “Made in America” displays weekly touted by ABC news are the few exceptions, rather than the rule, in an American economy of boarded-up stores and factories.    

The political implications of income inequality are most evident in the increasing rise and entrenchment of career politicians, supported by big donor funding and media favoritism. The integrity of the electoral process is endangered as election propaganda, funded by big money and hyped by corporate media bias, become more prominent in spreading lies, distortions, and innuendos to the voting public. Unrestricted campaign funding has given the moneyed elites first access to elected officials. At the same time, private-sector unions, small businesses, and citizens find their influence dwindling or irrelevant. This crony capitalism, resembling dictatorships and communist oligarchies, seriously threatens our democracy because money, power, and media control are consolidated in the hands of a few at the top. Voter apathy prevails, as voters feel increasingly powerless to change the course of events. 

The United States, a once great economic powerhouse and the largest creditor nation, has become the largest debtor nation, and is fast becoming a banana republic. Past and present elected authorities and public officials have stripped bare our industries, put the nation under a mountain of debt, and turned the U.S. into a welfare depository. Government leaders have intentionally failed to protect our borders, jobs, and freedoms. These public “servants” and the wealthy elites have garnered riches for themselves, and purposely impoverished citizens and future generations. The greatest threats to our economy and national security are not foreign countries or terrorists; they are the enemies inside, corrupt government leaders and the money masters they serve.