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MN2020 - Tuesday Talk: How do we close the economic gap?
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Tuesday Talk: How do we close the economic gap?

July 17, 2012 By Joe Sheeran, Communications Director

From the most dense urban area to the countryside, we should all care about the farm bill. It’s our tool in mitigating hunger, with food aid and nutrition programs comprising between 75% to 80% of its entire budget. The bill’s conservative House re-authorization version cuts food aid to millions of low-income working families, seniors, and children, including students in the free and reduced lunch program.

The farm bill is just another example of conservative policy, demanding that working people sacrifice, while the rich keep their tax breaks and shoulder little pain.

What policies will help us close the economic inequality gap?     

Thanks for participating! Commenting on this conversation is now closed.


  • Herbert A. Davis, Jr. says:

    July 17, 2012 at 8:03 am

    Spend federally created money on public education at every level…after WWII we funded education as never before and until deregulation, corruption and greed crashed the economy we were on a roll.

  • Mike Downing says:

    July 17, 2012 at 8:04 am

    The most fair & effective way to close the economic gap is to educate parents that they have a responsibility to make sure their children take full advantage of their educational opportunity and to encourage their children to excel in STEM classes (yes we have too many political science, english, sociology, psychology, etc. majors and yes too many lawyers!).

    Individuals have a responsibility to take advantage of their God given talents and be the best they can be. Education & training is the only effective equalizer to close the economic gap. Anything else is unfair, divisive and follows a Marxist socialist script.

  • Herbert A. Davis, Jr. says:

    July 17, 2012 at 8:07 am

    In anticipation of of one fools argument; we have never had a higher deficit or government debt and we have near record low interest rates. The governments debt is NOT like your family debt. The government creates money and your family doesn’t!

  • Rob says:

    July 17, 2012 at 8:46 am

    Unions, unions and more unions combined with much higher taxes on the rich is as simple as it gets.

  • Jim Weygand says:

    July 17, 2012 at 9:00 am

    Actually we have had higher debt when you look at debt as a percentage of GDP. In 1948 Debt was about 125% of GDP. That percentage dropped over the next 30+ years until Reagan and George W cut taxes and we started seeing debt grow again.

    The key to cutting debt during that post war period wa investing in our people and our infrastructure.  Now we seem to be just interested in making the rich richer.

  • KJC says:

    July 17, 2012 at 9:58 am

    We must do something bold.  We need to get back closer to “we’re all in this together” condition.  This country is unbeatable when actually in that condition.
    The global economy is what fractured us.  Capital can move it plants overseas to markets where labor and environmental laws are not enforced, like before the union movement here.
    How to Put Us Back Together Again?  We need some new, and well-written, laws on the books.  Such as?  “If you want to sell here, you will employ here.”  Let companies extract revenue while not putting back in?  We’ve just proved that isn’t long-term sustainable.  We have a tax for those who think taking out, and not putting back in, is “fair.”  (Greed is good, to quote Gordon Gekko from Wall Street.) I’d start there.  It would make Capital and Labor “need” each other again… and some effort to get along will ensue.  Then we’ll actually try to solve things…instead of just push costs off on the less powerful with the current “Privatize the Gains, Socialize the Losses” that encouraged the behavior that wrecked everything.
    Bold structural change for the Common Good… that’s what will work for All of America. 

  • ChristeenStone says:

    July 17, 2012 at 10:40 am

    I look at our world today and think how complicated it has become. We are so divided that there isn’t a lot of community feeling there. I was 9 when the Stock Market crashed in 1929 and my first time to be aware that there were two classes of people rich and poor, I had accepted my life on the farm as the ideal way to live.
    We had just moved to the city where my dad was in the Army and I became aware of hungry people around me, especially widows and elderly people. We looked for a solution, raise a bigger garden to help feed them. Which we did.
    Now we have Progressives, Conservatives, religious, non religious and we have forgotten we are a community. It is time to put aside our difference and accept this is our responsibility to solve this together.I personally feel the money paid to corporate farms should be used to serve those really in need.

  • Dean says:

    July 17, 2012 at 11:05 am

    The economic gap is likely to be a permeant reality for the foreseeable future and it may even get wider with time.  This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone since the US is the third most populous country in the world.  In all of history, no country with such a large population has managed an egalitarian society.  Another factor that greatly complicates the problem is our growth rate.  The US is adding at least 3 million people per year.  We have the highest population growth rate of any western styled government.  One might ask where are all those jobs going to come from?  And then there is the population mix.  If all Americans were western European derivatives, the benefits from investments in education and training would be well understood and predicable.  But that’s not the case today with many newer Americans.  Cultural, language and religious differences can greatly complicate their chances for upward mobility.  The longer term goals for the country need to adjust to their needs.  Specifically in the type of jobs the country is creating.  At a time when the US is ceding one manufacturing sector after another, we’re losing the very jobs these new Americans need.  That’s got to be reversed.

  • David Bly says:

    July 17, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    I have been arguing for some time that in light of the policy changes that removed the protections for our economic infrastructure that we need a constitutional commitment to protect the public interest.  I call it the middle class amendment and you can learn more about it at middleclassamendment.com I don’t see how we can change the direction we are headed in without this kind of correction.  As long as the wealthiest Americans can have such a hold on our policy makers that they destroy our societal fabric and abandon community I don’t see how the rest of us will be able to sustain ourselves. We will not be able to close the economic gap unless we have an economy that works for everyone.  There is no sign that the ‘every man or woman for self’ argument of the super rich will ever work for the rest of us.  We need to have a government willing to invest in community so all can have the opportunity to prosper.  We have allowed our government to be taken over by those who believe prosperity is possible only for a few.

  • eugene allred says:

    July 17, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    I have started a web site entitled TEA-tables.org.  On that site is an essay entitled:  The lower 99% of income earners are not hurt by taxing the hell out of the upper 1% and neither are the upper 1%. 

    When voting, Americans should study the history of the American economy and the effect of the policies of Republican and Democratic policies.  We hope to help out in this regard with this site (still in infancy).

    The historical premise so far is that taxing the ultra-rich at high rates produces several good, historically verifiable economic benefits for the country.  Lower unemployment rates, greater per capita GDP, higher median incomes, greater and steadier stock market growth, less chance of recession and especially a diminishing of national debt rather than a growth of national debt.

    HISTORY quite adequately demonstrates that the solution to most of the country’s economic problems is a much higher tax on the ultra-rich.  That conclusion is quite shocking, eh?

  • Ginny says:

    July 17, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    How do we solve this economic gap?
    We must raise taxes on those making over $250,000—that is, taxes go up on the amount over $250,000. The $1 million income limit does not bring enough money into the treasury.
    We have to change the rules for Americans who put their money into non-taxable secret overseas accounts to make sure that if they live in America, they must pay taxes in America.
    People must work to bring unions back (some of what I write repeats others’ comments), which would raise wages.
    Raise the minimum wage to a LIVING wage.
    Put education front and center in America and make it a real priority. Spend the money, bring down tuition costs, make sure every student’s school is well outfitted to make sure it has all the science labs, music rooms, art space, gyms, and the like, and that students do not have to pay extra for any of these facilities. They all go into making our children into well rounded, well educated citizens and thinkers—yes, music, art, gym and the like.
    Implement good health care for all.
    Pass good, effective regulations on business and banks and the like so that we are not treated to things like the most recent LIBOR scandal. All the corruption in our financial system cries out for effective remedies and regulations that are ENFORCED.

  • Bernice Vetsch says:

    July 17, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    I am partway through Jess Sunstein’s “The Second Bill of Rights” (2004, Basic Books) and have already learned much about FDR, the New Deal and the attempt to bring The Second Bill to fruition.

    Roosevelt’s economic advisors considered that the constitutional instruction to “promote the general welfare” meant that government was morally obliged to see that all citizens were able to live decent lives. The Second Bill was meant to constitutionally guarantee such lives for all. 

    Parts of the Second Bill were enacted (Social Security, education for all) and are secure.  That the entire Bill was not added to the Constitution means, says Sunstein, that the courts cannot enforce its provisions as they can the rights guaranteed by the original Bill of Rights.  Without such legal protections, the Second Bill remains a lost dream.

    It reads:

    —The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
    —The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
    —The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
    —The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
    —The right of every family to a decent home;
    —The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
    —The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
    —The right to a good education.

    In today’s political climate, even if the Right allowed legislation guaranteeing these rights to be passed—which would lead to our economy and society being structured to support them—we could not count on today’s Supreme Court to consider that legislation “constitutional.” 

    We need to rediscover the common good and elect politicians who believe in it. As Paul Wellstone said, “We all do better when we all do better.”


  • Ginny says:

    July 17, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    Restoring the concept of the social contract or the common good is key to any kind of change.
    I think we have to elect people who subscribe to this idea and not the me-first and greed ideas.