It turns out that growing income inequality in America is fueling more than historic levels of mistrust among citizens. In fact results of a recent Associated Press survey of economists reinforce President Obama’s characterization of income inequality as “the defining challenge of our time.” The disparity is not just hurting individuals, it is hurting the economy. In other words it is hurting us all, poor and wealthy alike.
What strike us as important about these findings is the contrast with oft-repeated claims of the benefits to the economy of spending habits and tax payments by wealthy Americans. Such benefits, if indeed there are any, are unsustainable. More even distribution of wealth is needed to help drive the economy. We need more people spending money.
Of course there are ethical and moral issues at stake here as well. But given the difficulty in addressing those issues perhaps we’re best served by focusing on our shared interest in a growing economy, and how difficult that is to achieve without broader and more equal participation.