Across the Great Divide: The Wealth Gap Challenges American Ideals

| August 24, 2001

Across the Great Divide:The Wealth Gap Challenges American Ideals

As the largest economic boom in U.S. history comes to a close, the divide between rich and poor in this country is wider than ever, and keeps getting bigger. Why then, when the wealthiest one percent of Americans own more than the bottom 95 percent, is there not a massive public outcry.

The answer lies in our outdated self-image as the land of equal opportunity and the 'level playing field,' writes Molly Lanzarotta in the Orlando, Florida-based political zine IMPACT Press. Our deeply-ingrained desire to believe in the American Dream, she argues, feeds our denial about the growing economic divide.

Lanzarotta, a staffer at the activist group United for a Fair Economy, paints a rather grim picture of the direction America is headed. But she is careful to note that all hope is not lost. 'Four in ten people interviewed for a June 2001 Pew Research Center poll believe that we are a have/have not society, compared to just 26 percent who felt that way in 1988 when the previous decade's boom was coming to a close. The poll also indicated that women and minorities are leading a trend of rising dissatisfaction with the country's direction.'
--Leif Utne
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