#1 When economic inequality feels personal

I’m new to blogging so this is a bit of an experiment. Author and business guru Seth Godin recommends blogging every day in order to stay current in our work. So, here I am. I am a professor of social work and feel as though I’m more successful as an amateur salsa dancer than as a a professor. I hope that by being online, I can find ways to engage my social work students in the business of social work beyond the boundaries of one individual client’s mind.

To that end, today I’m perseverating over Betsy DeVos’s reinstatement of for-profit colleges; unjust detainment of children at our southern border and here in Homestead; and the “unsolicited” proposal for the monorail from Miami to Miami Beach (where I currently live).

What do all three of these things possibly have in common? They are disproportionately impact people who are the most vulnerable in our society – low-income people of color, many of whom are children!

We are living in a period of the greatest economic inequality in the 243 year history of the United States. This inequality is rooted not only in lack of mobility by class (if you’re born poor, you’re likely to stay poor), but also by race.

Why should we care about this inequality? If you are a parent who wakes up in the middle of the night worrying about how you’re going to pay next month’s rent or mortgage (never mind saving for college); if you’re a young person working in the gig economy (without stable income, health insurance, or a retirement savings plan); or if you’re like me – a very well-educated single female professional who has taken years to pay off student loan debt and who works in a field where pay is low, this issue of economic inequality is personal.

If you are a social worker or other public servant, regardless of your personal circumstances, the problem of economic inequality should matter to you for two reasons: 1) economic inequality leads to social degradation and environmental degradation, which we cannot afford during a period of increased extreme weather events (that in turn threaten our supply of food, potable water, and homes, and 2) democracy cannot flourish when elections can be purchased by the wealthiest bidder.

What can we do about this predicament of economic inequality in the U.S.?