Is anyone surprised? Now that the ten-year census has been completed, we are able to go over it and study and analyze all of the information buried within it. There are a lot of numbers about the sizes of cities, the number of automobile traffic, petroleum production, increased energy from wind, etc., etc. That is all interesting and much of it is needed but for me the sad thing coming out of the census was the report that the income gap between the richest and poorest Americans grew last year to its widest amount on record as young adults and children in particular struggled to stay afloat in the recession.
We brag about our over all economy and we should. Bragging tends to be about its accomplishments in the area of productivity and not the fairness of its system of distribution.
How about this for a fact? The top earning 20% of Americans, those making more than $100,000 each year, received 49.4% of all income generated in the U.S. Compare that with the 3.4% of all American income earned by those below the poverty line. Last year the poverty level was set at about $22,000 for a family of four. The U.S. has the greatest disparately among Western industrialized nations between the upper and lower levels. These figures tell us a lot but unless you have real empathy for the suffering going on in this country we can’t grasp what it means in terms of lost houses, inadequate education, inadequate diet and overall suffering. Let’s pray that the United States can develop a sense of unity so that the wealthiest are concerned about the most vulnerable. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have given us a wonderful example not only in committing and sharing their own massive fortunes to the needs of the country at large, but urging other wealthy Americans to do the same. Their generosity gives hope in an otherwise bleak situation.