When Brian Johnson first started noticing articles about income inequality in 2016, he had his doubts.
The son of an Army officer and the leader of the largest LGBTQ civil rights organization in Illinois, Johnson was a big believer in America and the opportunities it offers. But as he dug in, reading news stories, studies and books, the picture that came into focus wasn’t pretty:
Income for the bottom 50% of U.S. workers had barely budged since 1980, while income for the top 1% had tripled, according to a 2016 working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research.
CEOs, who earned, on average, 20 or 30 times what workers did during much of the 1960s and 1970s, were earning 230 times more by 2011, according to a report from the Economic Policy Institute.
There were even signs that economic mobility, that cornerstone of the American Dream, was eroding.
“I couldn’t wrestle with this contradiction in a way I felt comfortable with,” said Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois.
“Why, in this incredibly diverse, vibrant country, where I personally know our greatest strength is coming together, are we allowing inequality to ramp up at levels we haven’t seen in a century?”
Johnson’s solution, outlined in his new book, “Our Fair Share: How One Small Change Can Create a More Equitable American Economy,” is at once radical in its conception and relatively modest in its demands. Johnson calls for businesses to pay 5% of their profits to fund an annual citizen’s dividend payment of $570 for every American.
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September 30, 2021 at 01:52PM