American Shame

I was planning to write this week about a productive meeting I had Monday with Cindy Au of and about how using and other crowd-sourced financing options “teach” entrepreneurial habits of mind.  But with cuts to the NEA likely to be even deeper than expected, friends in Wisconsin speaking out about their right to sit at a negotiating table, and Bahranian “security forces” shooting at their own citizens, that topic will have to wait.

Instead, I call your attention to an Op-Ed piece in today’s NY Times by Charles Blow.  Using data publicly available from our own government and elsewhere, Blow graphically displays what he calls “American Shame.”  With a Gini index of 45, the U.S. has the highest income disparity in the IMF’s 33 “advanced economies” with the exception of Hong Kong and Singapore.  This is not just slightly worse than our next nearest competitor, Portugal — it is a full 6.5 points higher than Portugal and in the same range as Mozambique, Cameroon, and Mexico, none of which make it to the IMF’s list. Not surprising when the government extends tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans at a cost of $690 billion (that’s billion with a B). We have the HIGHEST level of food insecurity among the 33 IMF countries, MORE THAN DOUBLE the incarceration rate of any of the other countries, and the lowest math scale score.  Perhaps if we could commit to spending more on education than prisons, that trend would be reversed.

I share Blow’s graphic here (click to enlarge):

I turned on the radio Thursday morning to a story about “workers protesting in the capitol city” thinking I was hearing about the news of my teacher friends in Wisconsin.  It took me a few minutes to realize the story was about Cairo.

About lindaessig

Linda Essig is Dean of the College of Arts & Letters at Cal State LA and principal/owner of Creative Infrastructure LLC. The opinions expressed on creativeinfrastructure are her own and not those of Cal State LA. You can follow her on twitter @LindaInPhoenix.
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