It is no coincidence that we acknowledge the most recent national report on poverty on the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., national birthday observance. Dr. King’s message of justice and equal rights and human dignity was as broad as it was deep. Inequality is as insidious in income as it is in basic rights. Both are destabilizing social issues that cause human suffering and moral turmoil. In an interview for this week’s For The Record, King colleague and confidant Ambassador Andrew Young said of King’s three goals of civil rights, ending war and fighting poverty, poverty is the worst, lingering problem and it is a global problem.
The poverty report, co-authored by Timothy Smeeding, director of the Institute for research on Poverty at U-W Madison, finds income inequality is “resuming its relentless upward trend” and predicts it will grow in the years to come. That strikes us as profoundly troubling and a threat not just to our democracy but, as Ambassador Young suggested, to global stability. The good news in the report is there are strategies we know work. Now we need the wisdom and courage to implement them.