In his book,Aftershock,Robert Reich contends that the primary cause of America’s financial turmoil is the economic inequality that characterizes the contemporary American Society.He recommends that an apt remedy would be to strive for economic equality. …
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In his book, Aftershock, Robert Reich contends that the primary cause of America’s financial turmoil is the economic inequality that characterizes the contemporary American Society. He recommends that an apt remedy would be to strive for economic equality. Equitable wealth distribution where the middle and lower class have a bigger share of the national cake would result in increased spending, which would in turn stimulate the economy. This paper will seek to summarize and review Reich’s recommendations as well as draw a level of inference with regards to whether or not American society is ready for a greater degree of social cohesion. Reich contends that it is in order to enact measures that would result in increased equitability in the distribution of economic resources. To achieve this, he asserts for example that a reverse income tax mechanism could be adopted, whereby the rich are taxed more while those earning less have their income supplemented by the government (Reich). This would aim to increase the amount of disposable income available to those in the middle class, increasing their purchasing power and spending capacity, thereby stimulating the economy. Another proposal set out by Reich is to have corporations pay a severance tax of 75% of an employees annual pay when an employee is laid off. In doing so, the aim would be for the taxman to reap from the increasing layoffs by corporations as they seek to outsource labor. Ostensibly, however, the move is aimed at deterring layoffs, thereby protecting the interests of workers. A sharp analysis of these recommendations reveals that they may not be so effective in the long run. Though they would be effective in stimulating the economy, it is hardly moral to tax individuals for accruing wealth, in an economy whose basic principle encourages individual wealth accrual. Furthermore, though increasing spending is likely to stimulate the economy, the gains therein are more likely to serve countries from which these products are sourced. According to Tucker, most of the shopping goods purchased by the middleclass come from outside our borders (toys from China, wine from Spain) (53). The principle underpinning of Reich’s recommendations is social cohesion where each citizen holds the interests of fellow citizens at heart, the result being equitable distribution of national resources. Though a good notion, a quick glance at past attempts at such projects indicates that equitable distribution is not quite as feasible. The funding for public education clearly elucidates on this. In America today, there is the inequitable distribution of funds meant for public education. The inequity stems right from the point where funds are sourced, since about 50 % of funding comes from local taxes (Biddle and Berliner 48). This out rightly places impecunious localities at a disadvantage. These differences are experienced at the state level, the district level and even for public schools within the same district. Biddle and Berliner point out that these inequalities probably stemmed from a shift of systems from one where funds were sourced from voluntary contributions, to one where the local property tax catered for this funding (53). As civilization progressed, there was class filtering where the more affluent were eventually separated from the more impoverished. Already entrenched in the minds of each individual was the notion that school funding should be sourced locally and therefore, those in the affluent suburbs saw no reason to inject funds to the more impoverished schools. As such, Reich’s description can be seen as one of the most fundamental levels of disagreement which currently exists within the American
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