Gilded Age Inequality

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Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor and presenter of the documentary Inequality for All, once said “The faith that anyone could move from rags to riches - with enough guts and gumption, hard work and nose to the grindstone - was once at the core of the American Dream. Unfortunately today we know that this is no longer the case in the United States. The gap between the rich and the poor continues to increase as the rich get richer and the poor can’t get out of poverty. Contrary to popular belief this is not due to lack of hard work but due to a lack of opportunity and this has become a huge problem for the United States. Although we can’t have every person in this country be wealthy due to the system of capitalism, it is possible to decrease …show more content…
During the Gilded Age the wealthiest 2 percent of American households owned more than a third of the countries wealth, while the top 10 percent owned roughly three fourths of it. This was due to big names such as Rockefeller, Carnegie, J.P. Morgan, Vanderbilt, and many other business leaders who capitalized from the newly industrialized economy of the Second Industrial Revolution. This was the first time in American history where we had a new class of the super-rich people, that practically dominated the United States. Many people were not happy about this new class of the super-rich and labeled these industrialists as “robber barons” because some believed that they made their fortunes at the expense of the working class. Although this is true to a certain extent since these industrialists gave the workers horrible conditions, which led to the highest rate of accidents in the world with 1,972 workers killed on the job, and low wages; some of these industrialists also donated a large part of their money. Thousands of colleges, hospitals, museums, academies, schools, opera houses, public libraries, and charities were paid for by private money. John D. Rockefeller donated over $500 million to various charities, slightly over half his entire net worth. Since the Gilded Age the problem has actually gotten worse; today the income inequality is the highest since 1928. Now the United States ranks around the 30th percentile for income inequality, meaning that 70 percent of countries have a more equal distribution. Income inequality can lead to many problems for the country, such as less consumer consumption, since the wealthy have more money and spend less of it, also more middle and lower class people borrow money which can contribute to financial crises, and finally the wealthy have more political power, resulting in policies that benefit

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