The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the economic divide between rich and poor in this country.
In a nutshell, the pandemic has made the rich, richer and the poor, poorer at a phenomenal rate, according to Houston Chronicle business columnist Chris Tomlinson.
“So the pandemic has accelerated the income inequality and the wealth inequality because, you know, those of us who are on salary and work on computers can stay at home,” Tomlinson said. “We kept our jobs, but the people who went to restaurants, who wash dishes, who waited tables, people who work at the airlines, in the travel industry, those tend to be the lower paid people with less wealth.”
Tomlinson pointed out that a look at history reveals that Americans paid higher taxes through most of the 20th century.
“The wealthy paid higher taxes so that they could have better roads and better schools and a stronger workforce,” he said. “And for most of modern American history, there was a balance between the extremes of communism and unfettered capitalism.”
That changed during the administration of President Ronald Reagan.
“It was the Reagan administration that slashed taxes, slash funding for education, slash support for schools, and also reduced the rights of labor to organize and demand better wages,” Tomlinson said.
He believes the incoming Biden administration will try to work to even out some of these inequities.
“It’s not inevitable that we have to end up with a two tiered system with the extremely wealthy and extremely poor and nothing in between,” he said.
Adjusting the minimum wage when the inflation rate rises could be one remedy.
“If we had done that in 1969, you know, the minimum wage would be $13.50 right now. And it’s only $7.25” Tomlinson said. “We can add more protection for workers so that they can sue their employer to be treated properly or they can organize unions more easily.”