Previously published on BillMoyers.com
This week marks both the fifth anniversary of the fiscal meltdown that almost tanked the world economy and the second anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, the movement that sparked heightened public awareness of income inequality. Yet the crisis is worse than ever -- in the first three years of the recovery, 95 percent of the economic gains have gone only to the top one percent of Americans. And the share of working people in the US who define themselves as lower class is at its highest level in four decades.
More and more are fighting back. According to Robert Reich, Bill Clinton's Secretary of Labor: "The core principle is that we want an economy that works for everyone, not just for a small elite. We want equal opportunity, not equality of outcome. We want to make sure that there's upward mobility again, in our society and in our economy."
Reich joins Moyers & Company (check local listings) this week, to discuss a new documentary film, Inequality for All. Directed by Jacob Kornbluth, the film aims to be a game-changer in our national discussion of income inequality. Reich, who Time magazine called one of the best cabinet secretaries of the 20th century, stars in this dynamic, witty, and entertaining new film that explores how America's widening income gap is a threat -- not only to the viability of our workforce, but also to the foundations of our democracy.
In a recent interview, Kornbluth says that his working class roots shaped his decision to make the film: "My friends knew [I was poor] because I got those free lunches in the classroom," he says. His mother raised a family of four on a teaching salary that, at times, was as low as $9,000 a year. Kornbluth says with Inequality for All he wanted to gain a deeper understanding of the issues from his childhood while elevating the conversation beyond party lines and partisan bickering. "Although [inequality] is a deeply moral question, the argument in the film is that it's an economic one as well," he says.
The film, financed in part using the crowd-funding platform Kickstarter, opens in theaters across the country next week.
Moyers & Company airs weekly on public television. Explore more at BillMoyers.com.