The gap keeps growing wider | Wally’s World

One can gather considerable evidence and build a pretty sound argument that the income gap between wealthy Americans and the rest of us is greater now than at any other time in the last 100 years – even greater than it was during the Depression or in the early 1900s when Teddy Roosevelt took on the Robber Barons.

One can gather considerable evidence and build a pretty sound argument that the income gap between wealthy Americans and the rest of us is greater now than at any other time in the last 100 years – even greater than it was during the Depression or in the early 1900s when Teddy Roosevelt took on the Robber Barons. Indeed, today one-tenth of 1 percent of the U.S. population – a mere 13,000 families – have cornered 13 percent of the total American income, while 10 percent of the population (44 million people) live below the poverty line.

Yet most Americans aren’t especially disturbed by this inequality because, in part, they believe everyone has a shot at the riches. With a lot of hard work and a little luck anyone can climb the economic pyramid and become wealthy.

This is a common refrain among some wealthy conservatives. If the poor would just get off their dead butts and go to work, they could get rich, too. Of course, even the most staunch conservative will admit that everyone doesn’t have an equal chance of success – the ghetto black and the upper-class, Harvard-educated, white don’t have the same opportunities – but still, everyone at least has a shot at it.

There’s no shortage of astonishing success stories. Take for instance, Bill Gates. He rose from a solidly middle-class environment and became the richest man in the world.

The hope of social mobility, of rising to a higher economic class, is a cornerstone of the American Dream. If not yourself, than your kids.

Well, I’m sorry to report that the American Dream appears to be increasingly and completely divorced from reality. Dramatic upward mobility, like Bill Gates, is and always has been extremely rare. In fact, since the last recession, which we’re still climbing out of, there has been more social mobility downward than upward; that is, a far greater number of people are falling out of the middle class into the lower class than are rising on the economic ladder.  The latest social science research indicates that 80 percent of the people born in poverty stay there.

However, even if the rate of upward mobility would suddenly double or triple, this isn’t going to solve our economic woes. Somehow we have to address the income inequality. We’ll always have a middle and working class, but somehow they have to get a bigger slice of the pie.

Instead of promoting the idea that everyone can rise up the economic ladder, we might do better to concentrate on merely raising everyone’s standard of living. The remarkable thing about the last half of the 20th century wasn’t the number of people who became wealthy, but rather that the middle class and working people saw their standard of living improve. For whatever reason, we’ve lost this.

More in Life

Enumclaw High hosts 7th annual Empty Bowls event

The event, held at Enumclaw High School, will help fund the Enumclaw Food Bank and Plateau Outreach Ministries.

Read the first two books before tackling ‘Banished’

Well, look at you. And you do — ten times a day,… Continue reading

Buckley Kiwanis names Students of the Month

For January, students from White River High School, Glacier Middle School and Carbonado Historical School District were chosen.

Local students named to WSU honor roll

Students from Black Diamond to Sumner found themselves on WSU’s President’s Honor Roll.

A small act of kindness can make a big impact | SoHaPP

Join SoHaPP’s book group this February to discuss “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio. Don’t have the book? Check it out at the Enumclaw Library or visit The Sequel.

This book will WOW you | Point of Review

Wow. Just… wow. Did you see that? Wasn’t it awesome? It was… Continue reading

EHS graduate McNab promoted to Lieutenant Colonel

Tom McNab was recently promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the United States Air Force.

White River Valley Museum opens “Suffer for Beauty” exhibit

Corsets, bras, and bustles, oh my! The White River Valley Museum is hosting its new event, “Suffer for Beauty,” which is all about the changing ideals of female beauty through the ages. The exhibit runs through June 17.

Library’s art and writing contest returns to Pierce County | Pierce County Library System

Pierce County teens are encouraged to express themselves through writing, painting, drawing and more for the annual Our Own Expressions competition, hosted by the Pierce County Library System.

‘School of Awake’ offers advice to adolescent girls

Twinkle, twinkle. For as long as you can remember, you’ve known how… Continue reading

Mental health first aid training in Enumclaw | The Summit

Friday, January 19 at 7 p.m., Dr. Michelle Bengtson will kick off the mental health-themed weekend by speaking on Hope for Depression: The World’s Greatest Epidemic. Dr. Bengtson is the author of the award winning “Hope Prevails: Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey through Depression.”

Print 3-D creations at Pierce County Library System

Bring a ready-to-print file and watch the magic of 3-D printing bring the file to life at Pierce County Library System’s 3-D Print Shop. The free print shop sessions are offered January through March at Pierce County Libraries, giving people the opportunity to use the 3-D printers to create items, get quick design lessons, and learn the 3-D printing process.