So, this blog is about wealth and income inequality. I’m sure some of you are wondering: what is wealth inequality exactly, and how big of a problem is it? Connecticut has one of the biggest wealth inequality issues in the entire country; allow me to illustrate:
Greenwich is a small town in the southwest corner of the state. It is wealthy beyond belief; it’s picturesque, haute, and lavish, home to 61,000 residents and a plethora of hedge funds and other financial service companies. The town was ranked #1 on TIME Money Magazine’s list of “100 Best Places to Live in the United States.” A useful measure of wealth is the AENGLC (Adjusted Equalized Net Grand List per Capita); that figure takes into account income and real estate values. Greenwich’s is $680,000.
Now, let’s take a 40-minute drive up the coast along I-95, about 30 miles to exit 24.
Bridgeport is the largest city in the state, situated right in the middle of the Gold Coast. Bridgeport is home to 140,000 people. However, increasing industrialization in the late 20th century has led to the loss of many white collar jobs and affluent residents. Driving by on the highway, it’s hard to ignore the dilapidated, run-down buildings and dirty power plants. Bridgeport struggles with widespread poverty and crime. The coastal city’s AENGLC is $10,500, just 1.5 percent that of Greenwich.
These two towns represent economic extremes, but they are a microcosm of a growing issue in the United States. Economic mobility, the opportunity and capability of people to move up in economic status, has decreased significantly in recent decades. As a result of this, wealth inequality has increased. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the top earning 1 percent of Americans have increased their income by 275 percent in the last 30 years. In comparison, the 60 percent of Americans who fall into the middle class only increased their income by 40 percent in the same period.
Put simply, the rich are getting richer, and the poor are staying poor. The causes for this are widely debated and researched, and would take far too long to list for this short blog post. However, being aware of the issue is the first step to solving it; so get the word out. Show people the numbers; they don’t lie (usually).
By Daniil Chupalov