A new report from the Federal Reserve reveals that the American population is so financially unstable that 47% of us couldn’t come up with $400 to meet an unexpected expense- and that they’d have to borrow or sell something to make up for it. One-third of all Americans reported enduring financial hardship last year.
In addition to that troubling statistic, 31% of the 50,000 respondents said they had gone without medical care in the past year because they couldn’t afford it. The report also reveals that 23% of those surveyed hold some kind of educational debt, 39% of us have no plan or savings for retirement.
These numbers are more evidence to the growing recognition that income inequality in our nation has skyrocketed out of control. As middle-class and working class incomes stagnate and drop, all that excess money flows to the wealthiest Americans, whose victory in the Citizens United Supreme Court Case has allowed them to control politics through political donations, thus entrenching the system that got us here in the first place and erecting barriers towards any legislative attempts to enforce change. At the same time, free-market oligarchs like the Koch Brothers are perpetrating a massive misinformation and propaganda campaign through their lobbying groups like ALEC and Americans For Prosperity to lead the public astray while they work behind the scenes to dismantle America’s safety net and public institutions, like the Post Office and public schools so that they can replace them with for-profit models.
So what can be done to rectify this terrible problem? It’s going to come down to whoever wins this next election. Bernie Sanders isn’t afraid to use fighting words in his passion for improving the lives of the American people:
“Ninety-nine percent of all new income generated today goes to the top 1 percent. Top one-tenth of 1 percent owns as much as wealth as the bottom 90 percent. Does anybody think that that is the kind of economy this country should have? Do we think it’s moral? So to my mind, if you have seen a massive transfer of wealth from the middle class to the top one-tenth of 1 percent, you know what, we’ve got to transfer that back if we’re going to have a vibrant middle class. And you do that in a lot of ways. Certainly one way is tax policy.”
It’s time we took our country back. After what the American people did to save the big corporations of this country after they plunged the entire world into a brutal recession, we deserve so much more than the scraps that the working families of America are being fed from the table while the top makes out like bandits.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.