Taking on inequality

Finally, most people outside the one percent at the top are realizing that the vast gulf of inequality is very dangerous for our country and the world. It is destroying lives and families and the economies of the United States and the rest of the world.

The dangers of inequality have been discussed at the meeting of the one percent in Davos at the World Economic Forum. Even Ted Cruz spoke out against inequality albeit with a typical idiotic antidote–more tax cuts for the rich.

As more and more realize how horrible the gulf of inequality is, it is essential that we act very strongly for those things that don’t tinker with inequality but have the capacity to create good high wage and livable wage jobs, that we demand a much stronger middle class and access to the middle class for low-wage workers.

The Greek people just changed their government in a very fundamental way rejecting austerity and economic measures that focused on deficits and tax cuts and electing a new government that will focus on good job creation and government spending for good job creation. In Europe, the global recession that followed the 2007 Wall Street crash has been met with disastrous policies of belt tightening instead of job creation. The Greek people got sick of their 25-30 percent unemployment rate and completely changed their government.

Here in America it is critical that we demand real change that can fundamentally how the economy works and who the economy works for. We must work to build a broad, strong, sustainable movement that comes from our values that will last longer than one election or any four years and that produce change such as:

* The absolute freedom of all workers to form unions and bargain collectively. This costs the government nothing, builds worker power, and is the most natural and organic way to reduce inequality;

* Infrastructure investment to produce good jobs, fix our rail system, airports, water and sewer systems, roads and bridges.  Infrastructure will increase productivity, wages, and efficiency;

* Minimum wage of at least $15 per hour tied to inflation so that it goes us as the cost of living goes up;

* Real, comprehensive manufacturing policy that allows us once again to create things that produce wealth;

* Enact President Obama’s for free community college and make four-year public universities affordable once again.  It is time to stop just talking about the value of higher education and make it possible for all;

* Invest in the best quality public education–Head Start through high school. Stop blaming teachers and invest in them.

Smart responsible tax reform on the obscenely wealthy and their corporations can fund these ideas and these ideas can actually produce more wealth for all of us by fueling consumer-buying power.

We must not let this moment that is opening slide by without making the change we all know that we all need.

This article originally appeared in Stewart Acuff’s blog.

Photo: mSeattle/Flickr


Stewart Acuff
Stewart Acuff

Stewart Acuff is Organizing Director of the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees 1199 in Philadelphia.