Inequality for All: Inequality Is Harmful and This is Why

This week for my Introduction to Sociology class, I was required to watch a 2013 documentary titled Inequality for All. This documentary features a man named Robert Reich, a former U.S. Labor Secretary under Bill Clinton, and his passionate discussion on the topic of inequality within the United States economy. All throughout the documentary Reich gives great detail as to how there is a significant and harmful gap between the rich and the middle class of America. He talks about how this gap continues to rise and how it can result in major economic and social consequences in the future.

The entire class had to watch this documentary, which can be found on Netflix by the way, and then answer a discussion post on D2L. I was so inspired by this movie that answering the discussion post question was easy. The question was, do you agree or disagree that inequality is harmful? I chose to agree that it is harmful, and below I would like to share with you all my discussion post and my strong opinions on the subject matter.

First, I would like to point out that this was the most interesting and educational documentary I have watched in a very long time. I have never truly understood politics and economics and how those two are so closely connected, but after having watched this documentary and heard the opinions/ideas of Robert Reich; I can now say that I have learned so much about our economy that I once had no idea of. I appreciate this movie for what it has taught me and how it inspired me to go out and become more knowledgeable about what's going on in our nation's economy.

Now to address the question at hand, yes, I do believe that inequality is extremely harmful. It has been most especially harmful to us as a society in the most recent years of the 21 century. The word itself has "in equal" embedded within it. This simply meaning that things within our society and our economy are not equal. The middle class, who according to Robert and many others, are the backbone of our economy; they are the real "job creators." Yet, they make barely enough money to keep food in their pantry's, to maintain a savings account, and to even put their kids through daycare/schooling. Many middle-class workers must work ten times harder than those above them and often have more than one job at a time. This extreme effort just to survive sometimes backfires in their faces as they can become laid off by these big corporations due to technological advances and personnel cuts. So many middle class families put all they have into simply being able to afford the necessities they need, and in return they are met with unnecessarily high tax rates and bank accounts that can have less than 100 to 80 dollars in them.

Yes, the inequality that is so very present within our economy is harmful because the rich, or the 1% of our nation, just keep getting richer. While the middle class starts to question whether they truly are "middle class" or if they are more so borderline poor/lower class. People, such as a CEO from the documentary whose family owns a very profitable pillow business, do not have to really concern themselves with the status of the economy and whether it's unequal or not because their money will continue to circulate.

These people make millions and even billions of dollars a year only to simply sit on that money. They do nothing with their money but invest in hedge funds and other big corporations which circles around and comes back to them making them even wealthier. Them sitting on this huge amount of money and not circulating this money back into the economy (they only have to pay about 10-15% in taxes each year) harms those individuals within the middle class because now they must work harder for less pay. Now they can't be consumers and buy the things they both need and want because they simply can't afford it. Many middle class families struggle so much that they put their homes up for leverage in order to pay for things such as insurance and student loans. The unemployment buildings are steadily packed with people who have lost their jobs or have arrived at their last resort.

Yes, I truly believe inequality is harmful. It has been harmful for quite a while and to be very honest, with this global pandemic things are just going to become even more unequal. So many people already have filled for unemployment just within the month of March. Students, such as myself, and those graduates of this year 2020 are going to be facing a tremendous amount of hurt once the economy reopens and things are back to "normal." We as a nation will be hurting in many of the same ways; however, the inequality will still be present because the rich will go back to doing what they were doing and continue to be rich. While the middle class will most certainly lean more and more towards poverty.

In no way am I trying to sound like a pessimist by saying that inequality within the economy is real and harmful, but I'm just stating the facts of what this documentary has taught me. I also know from experience how it feels to live in a "middle class" family with a single parent. My mother, at the age of 52, talks everyday about how her teaching salary barely pays the rent and how she needs a second job just to have something to save. I watch her crunch numbers and hear how in a blink of an eye her paycheck can be swallowed up by car notes, insurance, etc.

 It was disheartening to see and hear those families on the documentary talk about their financial situations. People like them, like my own mother, are supposed to be the reason why this economy revolves. They are the sun and everyone else is simply just the planets orbiting around them. Yet, they don't get treated like they matter. They don't get paid as if they are vital to this society. Why not? Haven't many of them earned it?