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Millennials’ responsibility: Economic inequality and the American dream

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Quinn Dombrowski/Flickr)

(Quinn Dombrowski/Flickr)

From Occupy Wall Street to the Bernie Sanders campaign, Americans have embraced recent efforts to shed light on economic inequality. However, the success of economic reform lies in the hands of our generation, a generation CBS News referred to as “narcissistic praise hounds.”

To millennials, the threat of terrorism always existed, the Internet always accompanied a research paper, and the Cold War was taught in history class, not lived. We are a generation ‘with the world at our fingertips,’ a generation that religiously watches “Friends” and uses social media multiple times a day. But, do we have access to the American Dream?

In “The Epic of America” James Truslow Adams defines the American Dream: “that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone…It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.”

For the first time, the American Dream is in jeopardy. As inequality among the classes increases, the chance of finding success in the country thousands have flocked to in order to escape poverty, famine and persecution severely decreases.

As Time’s Assistant Managing Editor Rana Foroohar wrote, “the conventional wisdom…has always been that inequality was the price of growth.” Today, this conventional wisdom is shifting. As with many other aspects of society, millennials are causing the foundation upon which this belief was founded to shake.

In Iowa, by a margin of six to one, millennials voted for Bernie Sanders. By far, Sanders’ strongest support group, a majority of young voters back the self-proclaimed socialist. Throughout the campaign, Sanders’ repeated rhetoric has consisted of limiting, if not dismantling completely, the power of the nation’s one percent.

Why has this rhetoric proved so effective? Well, Americans are beginning to recognize the importance of our quickly escalating economic inequality. Sanders’ lofty policy proposals promise to create change, and that promise has struck a chord with young adults.

However, Sanders isn’t the only candidate to propose a solution to growing inequality. In fact, Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, and Donald Trump have outlined potential solutions to combat the epidemic of economic inequality. In this election, each candidate has acknowledged and suggested reforms to strengthen the middle class.

Regardless of which candidate gets elected, inequality in America is an issue that must be addressed sooner rather than later. According to Pew Research citing University of California Berkeley Economics Professor Emmanuel Saez, “U.S. income inequality has been increasing steadily since the 1970s, and now has reached levels not seen since 1928.”

If we are to save the American Dream, millennials must step up to the plate to create realistic, effective policies that will combat inequality.

Elizabeth Wallace is a Collegian contributor and can be reached at [email protected]

5 Comments

5 Responses to “Millennials’ responsibility: Economic inequality and the American dream”

  1. David Hunt 1990 on April 6th, 2016 12:07 pm

    Vote Sanders. He’ll take from others at the point of a gun and give to you.

  2. Bobloblaw67 on April 16th, 2016 2:56 pm

    The problem isnt inequality. The problem is lack of opportunity.

  3. bc3b on April 16th, 2016 3:03 pm

    Your generation of snowflakes can’t even handle being exposed to opposing opinions and considers chalk messages on sidewalks threatening.

  4. Doctor of Factology on April 16th, 2016 3:47 pm

    Inequality may be seen at UMass. Just research the top Massachusetts public employees’ salaries which are available online to find out how UMass fat cats assist rather nicely in income inequality, while your tuition keeps rising. Think about it more seriously and look around the campus. There is income inequality in a nutshell in your nice community.

    “Derek Lovley, an associate dean and professor at UMass Amherst, earned $723,000. Robert Caret, the outgoing president at UMass, made $558,000; Kumble Subbaswamy, chancellor at UMass Amherst, made $432,000. Martin Meehan, chancellor at UMass Lowell, made $333,000.”

    https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2015/02/03/number-higher-earners-state-payroll-surges/Lu182AmmTKrvttzDAS0nFN/story.html

    Loved the last quote from a UC source, given that a simple search also shows the top public employees in that university system are also rich. As to Saez, his pay is about $350K a year from the UC system alone, not counting other sources of income.

    http://ucpay.globl.org/index.php?campus=&name=Emmanuel+Saez&title=&base=&overtime=&extra=&gross=&year=&s=gross

  5. Joe on April 17th, 2016 12:13 am

    “. As inequality among the classes increases, the chance of finding success in the country thousands have flocked to in order to escape poverty, famine and persecution severely decreases.”

    Millenials better wake up to the fact that what’s really crushing the American Dream is allowing Democrats and GOP establishment RINOS to keep flooding the country with TENS OF MILLIONS of wage depressing, job taking, college scholarship eating illegals and then buying their votes with citizenship and benefits that we all have to pay for.

    If you think mouthy phrase about 1% and social justice are. Going to solve anything than you are ignorant. Same with socialism.

    KNOW YOUR HISTORY.

    EVERY LARGE SCALE SOCIALIST REDISTRIBUTION PROGRAM HAS FAILED OR IS FAILING AND ALSO LEADS. TO VIOLENCE.

    As for the comment above mine, in jest or otherwise; my income is a roller coaster, but the year it goes up that anyone tries to come and take it by violence or anti constitutional means, I will put you in the ground.

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