Borrowing again from Kathleen Geier‘s new article, but also relying on older research we know some of the ways to reduce inequality, and at the same time, strengthen our economy and our country.
Globally and domestically, we need government and global institutional intervention in labor markets. We need powerful global encouragement for stronger labor unions and the absolute right of workers to organize unions and bargain collectively. The rise in inequality in the US directly tracks the government and corporate assault on unions. The best defense of democracy are organized workers. Strong unions are the best and most organic way to build the middle class and more fairly distribute the wealth of any nation.
In the US we need to double the minimum wage and tie it to the cost of living so we can end this stupid debate. If you work in the US, you should be able to make a living! Period! It is immoral and unconscionable to have a permanent underclass who cannot ever make a decent living trapped in poverty level jobs. Also, raising the minimum wage would lift all wages, stimulate the economy with robust and widespread consumer demand, and give some stability to families and the economy.
We need to reinstate a progressive income tax starting with capital gains–income received from investment and lifting the Medicare tax cap. We could easily secure and enhance Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
We need massive investment in public education. The schools in progressive states and counties that invest in education are the best in the country.
Globally, we need fair trade that requires fair wages and the right to unionize. We need to forgive debts. And we need robust and well-funded non-governmental organizations that can circumvent corrupt governments and get international aid directly and quickly to those who need it.
Photo source: bogieharmond on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)