News Release

A Missing Campaign Issue: Economic Apartheid


Author of Illusions of Prosperity: America’s Working Families in an Age of Economic Insecurity, Blau said today: “The economic fissure in American society is the great unmentionable of this year’s presidential campaign. Between 1977 and 1999, the after-tax income of the top fifth increased 43 percent, while the after-tax income of the top 1 percent increased 115 percent. At the same time, the bottom two-thirds of all households lost ground or struggled to hold their own. Absent much discussion of this issue, the gap between the presumption of universal prosperity and voters’ own experience of their lives is a big reason why neither of the major presidential candidates has been able to develop a strong bond with the electorate or retain a lead in the polls.”

Yeskel and Collins are co-directors of United for a Fair Economy and co-authors of the newly released book Economic Apartheid in America: A Primer on Inequality and Insecurity. Yeskel said today: “Thirty years after the Kerner Commission predicted ‘Two Americas, separate and unequal’ based on race, a huge gulf has opened up between wealthy and working Americans. We titled our book Economic Apartheid to spotlight…just how extreme this economic divide has become. Between 1983 and 1998, the wealth of the top 1 percent has grown 42 percent, while the bottom 40 percent has seen their net worth fall by 76 percent, based on Federal Reserve numbers.” Collins added: “Twenty years ago, the average CEO of a major U.S. corporation earned 42 times as much as the average employee; today that gap has widened to 475 times. If the minimum wage had risen as fast as CEO pay during the 1990s, it would now be $24.13 instead of $5.15.”
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Ladd, who inherited part of the Standard Oil fortune at age 21, is now a philanthropic advisor and donor organizer whose business is called Class Action. She is a member of Responsible Wealth, a national network of business leaders, investors, and affluent individuals who advocate for shared prosperity. She said today: “I want to live in a society where we can all walk the streets with less fear, rather than too many of us living behind bars, some in gated communities and some in prison. As a wealthy person, I may benefit financially from the current system, but the fraying of our social fabric resulting from too much inequality pains me…”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167