6 steps toward equal economic opportunity

It’s one of the greatest conundrums of our times– How can we shrink economic inequality? john powell of UC Berkeley’s Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society shares his insights.

  1. Increase the minimum wage. Instituting a fair, working wage means would ensure that everyone working a full-time job can afford housing, food, and health care. This would also reduce reliance on government programs such as SNAP, saving taxpayers money and reducing government spending. Americans believe all-too many myths about minimum wage workers. As the Economic Policy Institute reports:
    • Cuts to food assistance hurt the most vulnerableThe average age of affected workers is 35 years old;
    • 88 percent of all affected workers are at least 20 years old;
    • 35.5 percent are at least 40 years old;
    • 56 percent are women;
    • 28 percent have children;
    • 55 percent work full-time (35 hours per week or more);
    • 44 percent have at least some college experience.
  2. Expand the Earned Income Tax. powell writes: “In recent years, the EITC has been shown to have a positive impact on families, lifting roughly 4.7 million children above the poverty line on an annual basis. Increases in the EITC can pull more children out of poverty while providing more economic support for the working poor, especially single parents entering the workforce.”
  3. outofbalanceBuild assets for working families. The wealth gap is worse than it’s been since the Gilded Age. Praxia Partners’ work supports affordable homeownership– one of the most effective way to establish intergenerational wealth. We believe that the American dream should be within reach for everyone– not simply the wealthy. And, it turns out, most people agree. A poll (to the right) proves that most people think wealth distribution should be far more equitable.
  4. Invest in education. powell points to Head Start and Universal Pre-K as ways to help all children succeed.
  5. Make the tax code more progressive. “Capital gains tax rates must be adjusted so that they are in line with income tax rates,” powell writes. “Savings incentives structured as refundable tax credits, which treat every dollar saved equally, can provide equal benefits for lower-income families.”
  6. End residential segregation. Praxia Partners has worked for decades to dismantle exclusionary zoning. As powell notes, “Higher levels of racial residential segregation within a metropolitan region are strongly correlated with significantly reduced levels of intergenerational upward mobility for all residents of that area.”

You can read the complete article on the Huffington Post or the Haas Institute’s blog.

About Holly

Holly Jensen is a writer and poet who has worked with nonprofits and businesses for over a decade. She also serves as editor of The Ghazal Page, an international literary journal.
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