Saturday, April 2, 2011

Findings Report Gap Between Rich, Poor Widens

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There were two bad nuggets of news for those who are the poorest in America. First is that it may be harder for those trying to get ahead to actually earn a comfortable living. Second is that the pay of CEOs of large companies far outpaced the pay of ordinary workers.
Even lower-middle class citizens are having trouble meeting basic needs. The study, conducted by Wider Opportunities for Women, found that a single mother of two children would need to earn $30,000 a year to achieve financial security. A two-income family needs $68,000. The study took into account health insurance, having a savings account and still being able to deal with emergencies.
Looking at the Basic Economic Security Tables, only 13 percent of the jobs created by 2018 will meet the security needs of American families. Even if enough jobs are created, wages won't be enough to handle a house, car and basic health insurance.
On the other end of the spectrum, USA Today analyzed data from two statistics sources and concluded CEO pay rose 27 percent in 2010 while the average working only saw a two percent increase. The median CEO salary in 2010 was $9 million while just a year earlier it was only $7.1 million. It appears CEOs are getting rich on the backs of those who earn the least.
Even corporate profits were only up 1.5 percent since 2007 when the stock market was at its highest. Yet somehow, the focus on a company's CEO seems to outdo anything else.
The keys to improving conditions for the poor in the United States are complicated and many fold. Instead of funding wars, why not put more money towards building houses? If private companies aren't stepping up to help people get on their feet and get to a secure financial place, then it's up to the government to take care of those citizens who need it most.
Funneling money from the Department of Defense to building houses shouldn't be hard. Building houses would employ construction workers, banks would earn interest on any construction loans and any empty houses would also be filled.
Steady jobs for these people would also be necessary. If companies need skilled workers, they should take some of their CEO's pay for education expenses of workers. It doesn't have to be a college degree, but there can always be some kinds of classes prospective employees can take so they can learn a new job. If they stick with it and pass the company course, they should be hired.
The government doesn't necessarily have to provide handouts for the poor, but if private companies aren't going to do anything then who will?
William Browning is a research librarian specializing in U.S. politics. Born in St. Louis, Browning is active in local politics and served as a campaign volunteer for President Barack Obama and Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill.

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