UW-Washington County (UW-WC) is providing its students as well as the community, with the opportunity to view and discuss “Inequality for All,” an award-winning documentary about income inequality in our nation and the way it has shaped our economy and democracy. The showing takes place on Thursday, February 20 at 3:30pm in room 201, with the 90 minute documentary playing promptly at 4pm.
The viewing is free and open to the public. No reservations are needed.
Following the viewing, there will be a live webcast with the film’s star, Robert Reich, during which audience members can submit questions via Twitter. UW-WC Philosophy Professor Tait Szabo is organizing the event.
According to Szabo, the issues addressed in this film are arguably the most pressing issue of our times. The film alternates between intimate, approachable sequences and intellectually rigorous arguments helping people with no economic background or education better understand the issues at stake. “Inequality for All” allows viewers to start with little or no understanding of what it means for the U.S. to be economically imbalanced, and walk away with a comprehensive and significantly deeper sense of the issue and what can be done about it.
The American economy is in crisis. Enter Robert Reich: Secretary of Labor under Clinton, revered professor, charismatic pundit and author of thirteen books. “Bob” as he’s referred to in the film, is our hero and guide, shining a light on the urgency of this issue. Economic imbalances are now at near historically unprecedented levels. In fact, the two years of widest economic inequality of the last century were 1928 and 2007 – the two years just before the greatest economic crashes of modern times. What is the link between high inequality and economic crashes? What happened to the Middle Class?
As Americans, we’ve been taught that there is a basic bargain at the heart of our society: work hard, play by the rules and you can make a better life for yourself. But over the last 35 years, this bargain has been broken. Middle class incomes have stagnated or dropped over the same period during which the American economy has more than doubled. So where did all that money go? The facts are clear – it went to the top earners. In 1970 the top 1% of earners took home 9% of the nation’s income. Today they take in approximately 23%. The top 1% holds more than 35% of the nation’s overall wealth, while the bottom 50% controls a meager 2.5%. The last time wealth was this concentrated was in 1928, on the eve of the Great Depression.
What’s the big deal, you may ask? Didn’t the wealthy earn it? INEQUALITY FOR ALL is happy to acknowledge that. There is no vilifying of the rich here. The problem is that wide income divisions threaten the health of both our economy and our democracy.
When middle class consumers have to tighten their belts, the whole economy suffers. We saw this in the years before the Great Depression just as we see it today. The middle class represents 70% of spending and is the great stabilizer of our economy. No increase in spending by the rich can make up for it.
This is the moment in history in which we find ourselves: unprecedented income divisions, a wildly fluctuating and unstable economy, and average Americans increasingly frustrated and disillusioned. The debate about income inequality has become part of the national discussion, and this is a good thing. INEQUALITY FOR ALL connects the dots for viewers, showing why dealing with the widening gap between the rich and everyone else isn’t just about moral fairness.
For more information about INEQUALITY FOR ALL and to view the trailer, please visit InequalityForAll.com.
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