Why People of Faith Should Be Concerned
By Fred Kammer, S.J.
ECONOMIC INEQUALITY IS REAL AND WORSENING
Having monitored economic inequality for 30-plus years, the current “news” about growing inequality seems almost to be too late and too little. Accusations of “class warfare” against those who question our current economic realities in the United States ignore the “stealth class warfare” of four decades that has brought us to this yawning gap between rich and poor in both income and wealth.
From roughly the end of World War II until the early 1970s, we saw substantial economic growth in this country and, with it, a “broadly shared prosperity” across income groups. This is what is called absolute mobility (“a rising tide lifts all boats”) or, simply, the percentage change in income over time (adjusted for inflation). All income groups saw their incomes grow rapidly and at roughly the same rate, basically “doubling in inflation-adjusted terms between the late 1940s and early 1970s.” (The Census and others analyze population “quintiles,” which divide individuals or households into five equal size groups based on level of income.)