Summary: Although The American Dream says that hard work will lead to wealth and success, it doesn't seem to apply to most of Americans. Indeed, the smallest economic returns go to those generally laboring the hardest of all: the working poor. Billionaire Thomas Peterffy argues in his anti-Obama ad that America's rich will lose motivation to work if they are required to pay more taxes. But while preaching the value of hard work, he fails to note that the rich have virtually monopolized income gains in recent years. Reflecting on the unequal opportunity for financial security that the class structure presents, the late Beth Shulman, in her 2005 book, The Betrayal of Work, was one of the first to examine the diminishing well-being of the working poor. The above clip features Shulman's interview on PBS's NOW, and at about the 12:20 mark, she observes that while worker productivity has grown significantly, higher incomes have not trickled down to those in the bottom reaches of the American class structure. Indeed, she notes in this 2007 interview that "The top 1% is garnering 80% of income gains" (Note that today the top 1% is garnering over 90% of income gains, according to Emmanuel Saenz). With this being said, how is it possible for most American workers, and particularly the poor, to sustain their dream of a better life when their incomes remain so low and stagnant that they continue to struggle just to get by? (Originally posted on SoUnequal).
Submitted By: Tara McQuay