I noticed that the notion of income inequality and consequences was described outside the box in this article in the NYT. Several ideas struck me about the article. How people can work side by side with such little connection in their lives is instructive. The sense of ‘commons’ is missing from the article could be instructive in high lighting how the two women see their obligations and options, but another follow up could help instruct us. We tend to act on our own perceived stories’ to determine these choices. :
But a friendship that evokes parity by day becomes a study of inequality at night and a testament to the way family structure deepens class divides. Ms. Faulkner is married and living on two paychecks, while Ms. Schairer is raising her children by herself. That gives the Faulkner family a profound advantage in income and nurturing time, and makes their children statistically more likely to finish college, find good jobs and form stable marriages.
The economic storms of recent years have raised concerns about growing inequality and questions about a core national faith, that even Americans of humble backgrounds have a good chance of getting ahead. Most of the discussion has focused on labor market forces like falling blue-collar wages and lavish Wall Street pay.
But striking changes in family structure have also broadened income gaps and posed new barriers to upward mobility.
The advantage of comparing is to personalize and give life to ‘trends’ in our social fabric. The disadvantage of using real examples is that readers may trivialize the significance of a trend by making pronouncements on individual morality and choices and not look at real trends. Often little is offered for the psychological reasons for choices other than “shoulda known better”. Individual choices are of course tremendously important, but fail to explain the much larger trends.
The significant growing necessity of having two paychecks to raise a family is mentioned, and also the type of jobs women tend to get at lower pay compounding the difficulty of making enough money. Also mentioned is Ronald Reagan’s earned income credit to help alleviate what could have been much more severe poverty. There was no mention of medicaid, and no mention of what state the two women lived in. Not mentioned is the profound decrease in the labor participation rate for male ‘blue collar’ workers and subsequent dislocations (lower wages for men were given slight mention).
One important thought is that a significant number of people have dropped out of the ‘middle class’.