Income inequality: a vital discussion

By Nat Froiland

Occupy Wall Street, and the solidarity occupations that have sprung up across the country, have been the focus of plenty of attention from politicians, journalists and police departments in the two months since the movement began. Many in the media have argued that the protesters will not be successful until they articulate a clear set of goals or demands. This may be true, but to me, the message of the Occupy Movement has been crystal clear: corporations and the super-rich control most of our country’s wealth, while everybody else is left fighting for the scraps. Just how true is this message? Is it really possible that so few people could control so much wealth? If so, how did we end up in this position? What are the causes of income inequality? Most importantly, is there anything we can do to fix it? On Thursday, December 1st, from 7:00 to 9:00 PM, MPIRG’s Economic Justice task force will be hosting a panel discussion in the Weyerhaeuser Boardroom called “From Welfare to Wells Fargo: Income Inequity in the United States.” This panel will talk about the causes of income inequality, and why it has increased in the past few years. They will talk about whether or not income inequality matters. They will offer suggestions for how we can try to reverse the trend towards wealth disparities. Finally, we will discuss in small groups how income inequality affects us as Macalester students. The panelists come from a variety of backgrounds, and should bring diverse viewpoints to the table. The guests include activists in the labor movement and the OccupyMN protests, and a community member who, like so many Americans today, is struggling to make ends meet. On the other side of the spectrum, one of the panelists will be a representative from Wells Fargo. I’m excited to hear what each of the panelists will have to say, and to see how their viewpoints might diverge or intersect. I am also looking forward to the discussion that this panel will promote throughout campus. I know Macalester students will have a wide range of ideas about the best ways to bridge the gap between the “1 percent” and the “99 percent,” and what we can do –both on campus and in the community–to make an impact. For these reasons, I can’t wait for this panel discussion, and I hope you will join us on December 1st, from 7:00 to 9:00 PM, in the Weyerhaeuser Boardroom, to learn more about wealth inequality.