The Education And Healthcare Gap Essay

1843 words - 7 pages

In the worlds of politics, sociology and economics, debates have raged concerning
the relative equality or inequality in America. Over the past one hundred years, we have
seen a sizable shift toward equality in the legal rights of minorities. However, this legal
equality is undermined by a pervasive and broadening socioeconomic inequality,
especially in regards to healthcare and education. These issues disproportionately affect
minorities. This paper will first touch on two other types of inequality: civic and income.
Then it will move into how healthcare and education play an important role in this
growing inequality, and finally address the broader implication of socioeconomic
inequality and ultimately why these issues matter.

Despite increased legal equality, there has been a significant increase in both civic
and income inequality. Robert Putnam, in his book Bowling Alone, argues that civic
participation has declined in America since 1973. Specifically, he focuses on declining
engagement within America. In his discussion he puts forth that following the increased
civic participation of World War II, America has seen a significant decline in
membership in voluntary associations (68). This reduction in social capital, he claims, is
represented in decreased voter turnout, party membership and committee and public
meeting attendance, which are vital for a strong democracy. Others focus more explicitly

upon the shifting demographics and socioeconomic status of those engaged in American
civic life and politics. In essence they argue that overall civil disengagement is not as
worrisome as the inequality of who is participating, in that elites hold a
disproportionately larger share of membership in these civic groups than those of lower
income (Skocpol l.7 s.11, 12). Schier faults the decline of the party system and rise of
interest groups following the progressive movement, saying that the party system used
universal mobilization techniques to engage all levels of society, while interest groups
induce specific portions of the population to be active (7). Similarly, Kay Schlozman in
The Big Tilt argues that this shift from time to money as the main forms of political
engagement has skewed the civic playing field to favor the wealthy (1). Unerringly, these
discussions of civic activity seem to focus upon its relationship with income inequality.

Throughout the last one hundred years, America has seen an ever-increasing gap
between the very well-off and the rest of the population. Emmanuel Saez, in his article
Striking It Richer, offers convincing evidence for this trend. The top 10%, and especially
the top 1%, have seen a dramatic increase over the past century, particularly following
1970 (7). In terms of wealth, the top 1% of the population possesses 40% of the nation’s
wealth (Waters l. 4 s. 10). Undeniably, the rich are becoming richer, while the income of
the poor...

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