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DOES INCOME INEQUALITY PRODUCE WIDESPREAD INEQUALITY AND POOR EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY FOR PEOPLE WITH A DISABILITY ?

02/23/14

Permalink 12:04:00 pm, by eleanor Email , 1269 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: thoughts, The Law, Advocacy, Technology

DOES INCOME INEQUALITY PRODUCE WIDESPREAD INEQUALITY AND POOR EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY FOR PEOPLE WITH A DISABILITY ?

Does it? And if that is so why and what are the ramifications of it?

Token Loss

by Kay Ryan

TokenLoss

The other night I woke up in the middle of the night and realized I had had the strangest dream. I dreamt that there were partly robotic mechanized dragons walking down the street looking in the windows of the houses. And looking up I also saw some smaller dragons flying around them . They seem to have Logos or some kind of writing on their sides that I couldn't make out and then I woke up.

It seemed so real that I got up to look out the window and of course there was nothing there. But, I kept thinking about it later in the day and in the next few days too.  I figured that it must have related to what was bothering me lately.  

I receive a daily poem from American Poets.  A few days earlier the above poem had started me thinking. I put it in a circle around the dragon because the author had felt that it belonged in a circle around a dragon.

Looking for a meaning In my bizarre dream I thought maybe I was becoming like a dragon holding on to everything too tightly. I wasn't letting go of activities and it was time to let go of due to the progression of my MS. 

But on further thought I think that it must have been about my concern of inequality increasing in the United States and the lack of mobility that is occurring  for individuals. And the devastation to our democracy if we lose our middle class. 

I was born in the depression and grew up in World War ll, Korea and the Cold War . But when I graduated college and came onto the workforce in the late fifties and early sixties as a Physical Therapist it was a time that everybody expected their children would do better. I expected that I would get married eventually and I wouldn't work or only work part time when our children were young.

The culture was not like it is today when most family's economy depends on 2 incomes. In my first position I had 10 days of sick time and one month vacation. That's also a contrast with workers today.  Now being a woman I was not paid equally with my male Physical Therapists that's better today but not fully. I believe its 76% today.

Our country was not perfect but there was a change for the better in the wind.  And there were expectations that you could do well if you worked hard. After the veterans returned from WW ll there was a big increase in college graduation thanks to the GI Bill. Job security was quite universal. People stayed with a company and were promoted upward too. Health care was increasingly covered with labor organizations growing.

Under President Nixon wage limits were started so Health Care and Pensions were ways of sharing productivity gains. There was a universal nationalistic feeling that carried over from the depression and World War II that we were a society to be proud of. In fact when the USSR sent sputnik up we rallied and increased math and science standards in our schools . And of course NASA was formed and we were the first to the moon. We had a can do attitude.

I remember being on the subway in NYC when the news of Sputnik was in all the newspapers. And the can do attitude was overwhelming.

But this was not a time that prosperity was shared by all. And as increased awareness of this came about we demanded a change. A change to not exclude any American from equal opportunity.

And gradually with much shame and distress our Congress  passed Civil Rights Legislation. Medicare and Medicaid were also added to Social Security which had passed in 1935. Poverty programs were started and finally the ADA was passed in 1994. And at long last a growing awareness of equal rights including equal pay for women. And now homosexuals are progressing on their historic journey to equal rights.

But with the current recession exacerbating the slow regression of the average person's wages and opportunity for employment, the ability to climb up the ladder of  income and social status is becoming apparent. And more people could see the progress that we've gained for the average American including those with disabilities stalling and actually declining.

People with disabilities entering the workforce are now able to take advantage of  the new technology. With the advance in wheelchairs, vision and hearing aids along with computers their entry was so natural. But with this job market the last to enter can be the first to leave.

 Currently 1 in 5 Americans have a disability and 51% of Americans have a friend or family member with a disability. However, 70% of working-age Americans with disabilities are outside of the workforce (compared to 28% of those without disabilities). This statistic has remained unchanged in the 24 years since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990.

Of those working adults nearly 1/3 earn an income below the poverty level. People with disabilities constitute the nation's largest minority group, and the only group that any of us can become a member of at any time. And due to our advances in medicine people are living with disabilities not dying.

Therefore the number of Americans with disabilities is increasing. In fact from 1990 to 2000 the increase was  25% . But the number of jobs is decreasing and especially the number of good jobs that Americans once had.

It looks like we made a very big mistake in this country with NAFTA and the laws by congress for corporations to be able to send jobs overseas as well as hiding their profits there too! Workers were already dealing with technology taking their jobs. And also the latest Wall Street philosophy brings it to a triple dynamo!

Over the past 1-2 decades big corporations are also using the false idea that their only requirement is to make profits for their executives and stockholders. Sharing gains in a company's business by the labor of it's employees no longer exists for many of the big corporations. In fact many don't pay a wage to allow people to rise above poverty and they encourage their employees to apply for food stamps and Medicaid.

In an article by Mark Schmitt in the New Republic he mentions the  Princeton economist Angus Deaton who putt in the conclusion of his recent book, The Great Escape, "The political equality that is required by democracy is always under threat from economic inequality, and the more extreme the economic inequality, the greater the threat to democracy."

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116285/problems-inequality-debate?wpisrc=nl_wonk

Two-track future imperils global growth. "Globalization has made the world a more equal place, lifting the economic fortunes of billions of poor people over the last quarter century. Here's the rub: At the same time, it has made richer countries more unequal--squeezing the incomes of the poor and the middle class...Branko Milanovic, a former World Bank economist now with the City University of New York, says data from household surveys show that, from 1988 to 2008, real incomes of the poorest 50% in the U.S. grew just 23%. Their counterparts in the bottom 50% in Germany and Japan fared worse, the poorest Japanese seeing their real incomes fall by 2% in real terms. Meanwhile, incomes of the top 1% of Americans grew 113%, a figure that other studies suggest may be an underestimate." Stephen Fidler in The Wall Street Journal.

I still believe in the American philosophy of "Can Do" I'm just waiting for it to happen!

snow rainbow-2

But look..there's a rainbow!!

ellie

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