On Sunday, February 23rd, the Old Barre Labor Hall organization and the Social Action/Social Justice Committee of the First Church of Barre, Universalist, will be providing its members, students and community at large with the opportunity to view and discuss Inequality for All, an award-winning documentary about income inequality and the way it has shaped our economy and democracy.
The special screening will begin at 2pm, followed by a panel discussion. A Skype session with Robert Reich will be part of the panel discussion. The Old Barre Labor Hall is located at 46 Granite Street in Barre. This event is free to the public, however donations are always appreciated for operating expenses.
The American economy is in crisis. Enter Robert Reich: Secretary of Labor under Clinton, revered professor, charismatic pundit and author of thirteen books. “Bob,” as he’s referred to in the film, is a hero and guide, shining a light on the urgency of this issue. Economic imbalances are now at near historically unprecedented levels. In fact, the two years of widest economic inequality of the last century were 1928 and 2007 – the two years just before the greatest economic crashes of modern times. What is the link between high inequality and economic crashes? What happened to the middle class?
As Americans, we’ve been taught that there is a basic bargain at the heart of our society: work hard, play by the rules and you can make a better life for yourself. But over the last 35 years, this bargain has been broken. Middle class incomes have stagnated or dropped over the same period during which the American economy has more than doubled. So where did all that money go? The facts are clear – it went to the top earners. In 1970 the top 1% of earners took home 9% of the nation’s income. Today they take in approximately 23%. The top 1% holds more than 35% of the nation’s overall wealth, while the bottom 50% controls a meager 2.5%. The last time wealth was this concentrated was in 1928, on the eve of the Great Depression.
What’s the big deal, you may ask? Didn’t the wealthy earn it? Inequality for All is happy to acknowledge that. There is no vilifying of the rich here. The problem is that wide income divisions threaten the health of both our economy and our democracy.
When middle class consumers have to tighten their belts, the whole economy suffers. We saw this in the years before the Great Depression just as we see it today. The middle class represents 70% of spending and is the great stabilizer of our economy. No increase in spending by the rich can make up for it. Where do we go from here?? The documentary, Inequality for All connects the dots. This event promises to be an eye opener for all as to how to take action towards solutions to this critical issue.