Great Divide of Income Inequality

The growing gap between rich and poor

Marc H. Morial | 2/5/2014, 10:52 a.m.
“Income inequality” has become the political buzzword of 2014. President Obama has made it a central theme of his second ...
Marc H. Morial

In contrast, President Obama has warned that “The combined trends of increased inequality and decreasing mobility pose a fundamental threat to the American dream, our way of life and what we stand for around the globe.” He has called for an increase in the minimum wage – a move the National Urban League has been pushing since 2006 – and an extension of unemployment benefits as first steps in addressing the problem. On Jan. 9, he announced the creation of five “Promise Zones,” in San Antonio, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Southeastern Kentucky and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma that will receive targeted government tax incentives to create jobs and reduce unemployment.

In a message to the Davos attendees, Pope Francis said that “the growth of equality demands something more than economic growth, even though it presupposes it… It also calls for decisions, mechanisms and processes directed to a better distribution of wealth, the creation of sources of employment and an integral promotion of the poor which goes beyond a simple welfare mentality.

I am convinced that from such an openness to the transcendent a new political and business mentality can take shape, one capable of guiding all economic and financial activity within the horizon of an ethical approach which is truly humane.”

The need is clear. The Urban League has raised this issue constantly over the last several years – and people are finally listening. We must not let the seriousness and urgency of this problem get caught in the crossfire of ideological warfare. Americans need policy solutions developed in partnership with corporate, government and non-profit leaders – now. Awareness is good…action is better.

Marc H. Morial is president and chief executive officer of the National Urban League.