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Minding the Wealth Gap

July 15, 2011

By Page, NETWORK

The gap between the wealthiest and poorest Americans has increased dramatically over the past 30 years. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the top 1% owns more than 90% of us combined! In fact, they own over 35% of the entire nation’s private wealth.Why does this matter? Well, the amount of wealth a person owns greatly affects her or his financial stability and access to opportunities — education, health care, starting a small business, savings, retirement, etc. A large gap in wealth means a large gap in opportunities for families and individuals.

Among the Wealth Gap 101 information nuggets:

• The median Black household has less than ten cents of wealth for every dollar of wealth owned by the median white family.

• 20% of Americans have -1.4% of our nation’s wealth, meaning they collectively have more debt than income or assets.

• The wealthiest 1% of U.S. households owns 225 times as much wealth as the median household. This is the highest ratio on record.

Most Americans are surprised to hear the extent of wealth disparity in this country, not only because it is larger than expected, but also because the current distribution of wealth surpasses the level of inequality we as a society are willing to accept.

The NETWORK Education Program has launched the Mind the Gap! campaign to tell the story of the wealth gap — how it happened, today’s consequences, and ways to address the problem.

On the website you can find information on the wealth gap and also sign a petition urging President Obama to convene a White House Summit to explore the causes and consequences of the current wealth gap in the United States and to develop a response.

The Institute Justice Team of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas has endorsed the Mind the Gap! campaign out of the Mercy commitment to persons who are poor. The campaign also addresses some of the issues, such as racism, that the Sisters have identified as their critical concerns.

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