As the presidential campaign heats up, here are ten things the candidates should understand about why extreme inequality is toxic for America.
The Census Bureau recently released the supplemental poverty measure (SPM). By this gauge, 49.1 million Americans, or 16 percent of the population, live in poverty — more than the official poverty number of 46.2 million, or 15.1 percent of the population, reported in September.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently expressed concern that unrest in capitals around the world, from Egypt to England, could spread to the US. As we write, hundreds of protestors occupy Liberty Park near Wall Street. The riots in London were not just about material poverty, or even cuts in social services. Fundamentally, they were about extreme inequality and a sense of helplessness to change it. As Naomi Klein pointed out in “Daylight Robbery, Meet Nighttime Robbery,” they were about what those cuts represent: being cut off.
Which causes more deaths in the United States: heart attacks or failure to graduate high school? Strokes or racial segregation? Lung cancer or poverty? The surprising answer is that poverty and its attendant deprivations are deadlier than disease.
How do you define a better life? The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a group of 34 countries comprised chiefly of the world’s affluent democracies, is taking its turn to answer this ageless question with its Better Life Initiative. This interactive tool and index draws attention to the many ingredients of a good life, and in so doing attempts to move beyond GDP as the sole measure of a country’s well-being.
California has long been a leader in implementing progressive policies and developing innovative programs to improve the lives and broaden the opportunities of its people. From education to environment, California has been at the forefront. But the Golden State is at risk of losing this edge, disinvesting in the very areas that California needs to compete in the 21st century and to ensure that its people have the tools they need to realize their full potential.
We’ve had a busy and exciting year so far, traveling all over the country to present findings from The Measure of America 2010-2011 and forging ahead with researching and writing the California Human Development Report. We made presentations at UNICEF, NYC, the Southern California Grantmakers’ Philanthropy and Public Policy Conference, Los Angeles, and also held a Congressional Briefing for policymakers and staffers on the Hill.
While we have our sights firmly set on California for 2011 for our next state report, here are a couple of news items from our 2010 recap.
Join us at the launch of The Measure of America 2010-2011: Mapping Risks and Resilience, November 10 in Washington, DC & November 17 in NYC!
The new American Human Development Report, The Measure of America 2010-2011: Mapping Risks and Resilience will be launched at two free events open to the public.