income inequality

Incomes are rising in Oregon, as portrayed by several sets of numbers.  In fact, the state's median income rose above the national median for the first time in 50 years, according to state government economists. 

The Oregon Center for Public Policy released its own report recently, and it shows most of the income gains going to the top earners, with slow growth in earnings for most workers.  Can both sets of numbers be correct? 


The last two American elections have shown a desire to rip up the old and build something new.  But the greatest source of frustration--economic inequality--remains in place, along with the system that allows/creates/confirms it. 

It does not need to be this way, say Marjorie Kelly and Ted Howard.  They are leaders of The Democracy Collaborative, working for a more democratic economy. 

And they lay out their ideas in the book The Making of a Democratic Economy: Building Prosperity for the Many, Not Just the Few

Eugène Delacroix painting via Pixabay

Imagine a world of greater equality, and you may be willing to follow Martin Schoenhals down the path of "radical equality."  That is what he espouses in his book Work, Love, and Learning in Utopia: Equality Reimagined

And yes, it's about economic equality, but a lot more as well.  Equality of love, for example. 

The author is a psychological anthropologist, and he brings a number of fields of thought together in the book. 


By many measures of societal well-being, the USA is not number one.  The American Dream or something like it is more of a reality in Denmark. 

So say the authors of The Inner Level, a recent book.  It points to inequality as the root cause of many of our troubles. 


If you're concerned about upward mobility for your kids in today's society, you might want to move.  Evidence suggests upward mobility is greater for children who grow up farther away from metro areas. 

This goes against the generally accepted belief that people who live near cities have the greater mobility.  But Bruce Weber, professor emeritus of applied economics at Oregon State, has figures to back up the rural-mobility case. 


The fictional Ebenezer Scrooge said of the world "There is nothing on which it is so hard as poverty."  We comfort ourselves by thinking, nearly 200 years later, that we treat poor people better now. 

Sarah Smarsh begs to differ.  She found in her life that to have less means people often think you are less. 

Smarsh unfolds that view in Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth

Why So Many More Black Babies Die

Aug 24, 2018
TSGT Robert Wickley, Public Domain,

The infant mortality rate in the United States has been steadily declining over time.  One problem, though: the rate for African-Americans is roughly twice the rate for white Americans. 

That's many more black babies dying at or soon after birth relative to the population. 

Dr. Fleda Mask Jackson created one of many programs to target racism in the medical profession.  Dr. Jackson's program is called Save 100 Babies, and it's based in Atlanta.


Got 20 cents?  Those two dimes represent the difference between what men and women make on EVERY dollar. 

True: women make, on average, 80 cents for every dollar men make.  The disparity is a hot topic of discussion on this day (April 10), Equal Pay Day

Oregon has some news to contribute to the day: an equal pay law passed by the legislature that goes into effect at the beginning of next year. 

Department of Defense/Public Domain

We live in an age of unprecedented, irreversible decline—or so we’re often told.

Jonathan Tepperman’s The Fix: How Countries Use Crises to Solve the World’s Worst Problems presents a very different picture.

It identifies ten pervasive and seemingly impossible challenges—including immigration reform, economic stagnation, political gridlock, corruption, and Islamist extremism—and shows that, contrary to the general consensus, each has a solution, and not merely a hypothetical one.

By taking a close look at overlooked success stories—from countries as diverse as Canada, Botswana, and Indonesia—Tepperman discovers practical advice for problem-solvers of all stripes, making a data-driven case for optimism in a time of crushing pessimism. 

A Critique Of Present-Day Capitalism

Jun 6, 2016
Cornell University Press

Listen carefully to people in the political system who complain about the uneven distribution of wealth.  They are generally very careful to say that they have no problem with capitalism itself. 

Psychology professor John Ehrenreich takes issue with the KIND of capitalism currently in vogue. 

A system in which some people make piles of money but wages stagnate for the middle and bottom of the wage ladder get their own term: Third Wave Capitalism. 

VENTSday: Overtime Pay + Tips For Service

May 24, 2016
Deviant Art/Wikimedia

The income concerns of people from the middle class on down provide the two topics for this week's VENTSday segment. 

We want to gather your thoughts on the new federal rule on who gets overtime pay, and while you're at it, tell us about tipping--when you do it, and who should get tips. 

Listeners take center stage on our weekly VENTSday segment, a chance to vent on a couple of topics in the news--by phone, by email, or through our online survey. We provide the topics, you provide the opinions. 

No expertise necessary; just opinions and the ability to express them in a radio-friendly way. We post our weekly survey on one or both of the topics in advance. 


Oregon legislative sessions are meant to be short and tame affairs in even-numbered years.  These are not the sessions that set budget priorities. 

But there's pressure on the current legislative session to produce laws to help minorities and low-income people, and the threat of ballot measures if the legislature does not produce on issues like minimum wage hikes. 

Fair Shot for Oregon has a list of items--including wages--it would like the legislature to address. 

Does Inequality Actually Help Anyone?

Jan 26, 2016
Daniel Maleck Lewy/Wikimedia

Report after report on the economy and incomes shows a widening between rich and poor in the United States. 

There are always people who insist that SOME inequality is a good thing, a potential motivator for people with lower incomes to work hard enough to get higher incomes. 

One of the offerings from the Conversation Project of Oregon Humanities is a session called "How Much Inequality Is Acceptable?" 

Writer/storyteller/professor Julia Hammond from Portland is the session leader. 

California Cities Build Momentum on Minimum Wage Boosts

Dec 22, 2015
Pauline Bartolone/CALmatters

Lydia Flores saves gas money by taking a two-hour train ride to and from her cashier job at a Los Angeles supermarket. She tells her teenage sons about another way the family can save on the cost of eggs.

“Eat it slow,” she tells them. “They gotta savor their eggs now.”

To stretch her dollars, Flores gets some food from churches. Her sons wear their uncle’s hand-me-downs. A couple of times a year, she’ll ask a local nonprofit to help pay a utility bill.