This week, America finally turned its attention to the urgent problem of its bridges -- or at least one bridge. As a media storm erupted over a traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge, accountability for our nation's crumbling infrastructure continued to cruise right by. Maybe we could divert some of those lanes of outrage toward the fact that nearly 80,000 American bridges are falling apart. This week also marked the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty. From 1964 to 1973, the poverty rate fell from 19 to 10 percent. But over the ensuing years, it's climbed to 15 percent, as the War on Poverty has become a War on Poor People. An estimated 6.8 million people could put poverty in their rear view mirror with a proposed increase of the minimum wage to $10.10. But like a "traffic study" on the Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge, our leaders' desire to truly fight a war on poverty seems endlessly stalled.
This week, the United States marked 50 years since President Lyndon Johnson declared War on Poverty. Many politicians and media are asking whether past efforts to reduce poverty have been successful. Even more importantly, some leaders in both parties are proposing fresh strategies to tackle poverty in America.
Income inequality is different from poverty, an issue that is often discussed by politicians. These discussions, until this year, tended to frame poverty as an isolated issue growing out of individual or collective failings. Income inequality is different because it suggests that the problem is structural and deeply embedded in our larger economic system.