The American Dream, deferred.
The economic realities facing America’s middle class should concern us all. The American Dream, economic prosperity, a career that allows you to support a family, appreciation from employers for service and loyalty, a chance to participate in the success to which you contributed. That dream is not as vivid as it was 50 years ago.
Amos 5:24, but let justice roll down like a river and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
Over the past half-century, American workers have been their most productive. Over the past quarter-century, America has created more billionaires than any period in its history. Wealth, the abundance of possessions and money, has not only been concentrated at the top of the economic ladder it is not being shared with working-class Americans, the labor force, that contributes to its creation.
Our middle class is beleaguered. We can and must do better.
I received an economic justice award from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference on April 4, 2018. During my acceptance speech, I pointed to a couple of facts that I will revisit here. First of all, April 4, 2018, was the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King and was given by the organization he founded. Second, Dr. King, although noted as the founder of a non-violent movement that fought for civil rights, was a tireless proponent of economic justice as well. I pointed to a scripture that Dr. King frequently quoted, Amos 5:24, but let justice roll down like a river and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. But even Dr. King might have to wonder, has the stream of prosperity, upward mobility, fair wages, economic security been dammed up?
We live in a country where corporate CEOs earn 300 times that of their workforce, where even though we lead in technological advances, poverty, disparity, and despondency are still prevalent. Our middle class is beleaguered. We can and must do better.
Many in government, business, and industry will point to certain indicators to determine the health of the economy; interest rates, the stock market, gross domestic product, etc. Middle-class Americans point to more basic concepts such as sustaining a certain lifestyle, housing, childcare, education, and healthcare. American families are focused on surviving in a nation and economy where the dream used to be about thriving.
Again, we can and simply must do better.