The rich get richer

Economic problems make it difficult to fill the grocery cart

Emma Greco

Economic problems make it difficult to fill the grocery cart

Emma Greco

The American dream is a modern myth.

The top 1% in the nation now hold more wealth than the entire middle class: the top earners in the U.S. now possess the majority of U.S. wealth, leaving less income for the working and lower class.

According to Federal Reserve data in 2021, the middle 60% of U.S. households’ assets have declined to 26.6% of the national wealth, while the top 1% have 27% of the wealth. In the past 30 years, the top 20% now have around 70% of the nation’s wealth. This is a 10% shift. The rich are really rich; the rest of us are not even close.

People with stable jobs, people who thought to themselves “that could never happen to me”, are now living in hotels, shelters, and worst case scenario, the streets. Families have found themselves struggling to make ends meet, especially after the pandemic. The housing and renting market has exploded. In Michigan, a one-bedroom apartment or studio averages around $1,500-$2,000. That is most, if not all, of a person’s entire monthly income. Homelessness has now become a middle-class problem.

Joseph Alfonso, a veteran running for Michigan’s 4th District US Congress, said, “We have made it possible for big corporations to make the competitive market nearly impossible. Publicly traded companies get handouts, while small businesses and workers have to fight each other for a hand up. Trickle-down economics is a failure and the rich just made wages stagnant.”

The staple of the middle class, financial security, has been slowly dwindling over the years. People have noticed their wages decreasing, and the prices of necessities increasing. In other words, the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.

Some argue that wealth disparity is a must for societies, a necessary evil. That it creates an economy that’s “unconstrained” and “free.” In reality, this is far from the truth. While an economy can see short term growth from unequal distribution, that growth only attributes to the already wealthy top percentage of earners.

After this initial short term growth for the wealthy, they have political power and influence over the majority. The top percent of earners offset inflation by their overly-abundant income, entrapping even those who have a stable income into rising prices. It creates political instability for the average American, the same American that was promised fairness and stability.

Economic growth then becomes stagnant as a result of inflation, adding to the already increasing wealth gap between the top percent and majority of Americans. The overwhelming majority of products have almost tripled in price. The money that already comes from those who are in poverty, to the greedy corporate elites of the nation. The cost of living has now become a cost of surviving.

For example, the oil industry has been doing better than ever amidst world crises like the COVID-19 pandemic, Hurricane Ian, and the war in Ukraine. Big oil companies like ExxonMobil and Shell continue to make what are now record high profits, the price of gas spiking to an average of $5 per gallon in June of 2022 .

Necessities like food prices have also skyrocketed at a global scale. According to data from the U.N., food prices have risen by 50% as of the end of 2019. One of the three basic needs is now even harder to afford.

Alfonso says that “Many Americans have to work two or three jobs to make ends meet. And that’s just those who have a degree. With inflation being caused by corporate greed and war in Ukraine it makes these conditions even worse.”

Americans may be tasked with the question, “Is there a way to do something about this?” And the short answer is yes.

According to Alfonso, the way to stop unequal distribution is “By electing people who will listen to them over large dollar donors who have their own agendas. Ensuring they pass local laws that allow for better working hours, and pay, in order to make more time for themselves and look over their families.”

It’s crucial that Americans research the people that are on their ballot, and support people running for office that will make a difference for their communities.

Every person has the right to vote, make it count

The American Dream is currently a myth, but it could exist again. That shift requires strong leadership.