National Commentary

Income Inequality is Killing America

The last 40 years have given rise to so-called Family Values groups. One would think that decades of funneling millions of dollars into organizations that purport the help the family would actually have led to stronger families.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case. These pathetic, money-grubbing organizations only care about donations, fetuses and being anti-gay. Once a baby is actually born, these so-called pro-life groups don’t give a damn about quality of life. They don’t care about the financial stress having a baby puts on parents.

While these fraudulent Family Values groups are engaged in gay bashing crusades and wave plastic fetuses in front of abortion clinics – the price for families raising a child has skyrocketed.

A new report by the Agriculture Department says that a middle-income family with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend $245,000 for food, shelter, and other expenses up to the age of 18.

When the first report came out 53 years ago, that same family would have only spent $25,000. Adjusted for inflation, that comes out to $198,000. So, it costs a family an extra $47,000 to raise a child today. And if you add increases in food and housing costs – as well as stagnant wages – the traditional American dream of owning a house and having 2.5 kids is becoming increasingly unattainable.

Increasingly, gay couples are experiencing the sticker shock – so to speak – of having children. If they thought the wild old nights of inflated drink prices and outrageous gay nightclub cover charges was exorbitant – the cost of daycare and college tuition might cause cardiac arrest. Ironically, LGBT equality intersected with the rise of economic inequality.

The American dream is more like fantasy for many working LGBT couples that want a family but are finding it increasingly unaffordable. Many of these couples are finding that they are forced out of so-called “Gayborhoods” and have to move to cheaper suburbs. This can be quite unsettling for urban people used to robust LGBT communities and walking neighborhoods.

Mother Jones magazine has a terrific article this month that talks about income inequality. The article points out that a shocking 95-percent of income growth since the so-called economic recovery has gone to the ultra-wealthy.

Since the Reagan Revolution in 1980, income share for the bottom 90-percent of families is down 24-percent. For the top 1-percent of earners, income share is up 124-percent. The top .01 percent, income earners now have a share that is up 327-percent since 1980.

If the median household had enjoyed the same income growth as the 1-percent since 1980, it would now make $140,000. I’m not sure about you, but $140,000 sure sounds pretty good to me. If an average American was making this kind of money it would certainly help drive consumer spending and lift the economy. It would create jobs and a new class of entrepreneurs. Not do “conservatives” poor people with inactive ideas are rarely able to use their talents and start businesses.

Unfortunately, our nation is moving in the wrong direction. In 2012, the median household income dropped to where it was in 1996. So, you’re working harder than ever – but not sharing in the enormous wealth. A high tide is supposed to lift all boats. But in this unfair economy the yachts are rising and your family canoe is sinking to the bottom of the sea.

The most interesting fact in the Mother Jones article is that income inequality is actually worse now that than it was during ancient Rome, which is known for its decadence. In ancient Rome the top 1-percent controlled 16-percent of total income. In America today, 1-percent of the population controls 22-percent of total income. There was only one time in our nation’s history when income inequality was this high: 1929, right before The Great Depression.

The Republicans are clearly wrong. The wealth never trickled down as they had insincerely promised. Like salmon in a stream the corporate money is swimming in the wrong direction – toward the ultra-wealthy and away from workers.

Conservatives like to decry the redistribution of wealth. They call it Marxist. But right now we are seeing a record redistribution of wealth. Except this time it is being redistributed from the middle class to the wealthiest one-percent. Given their definition, doesn’t that make them Marxist – or we can maybe we can call it Upwardly Marxist?

In light of this harsh reality, do we really need to continue huge Republican tax cuts for billionaires? They like to call themselves job creators – but many of these jobs pay lousy wages. They’re creating jobs all right – your first, your second, and your third rotten job – which you now have to work just, make rent and buy groceries.

America needs to reverse course before it is too late. We can save out country, but only of we restore the middle class and stop the obscene transfer of wealth to people who do not deserve it.


Wayne Besen is a columnist and author of the book “Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth.”