Issue: In 2015, the top twenty-five hedge fund managers made more than the combined salaries of every kindergarten teacher in the United States, and paid a lower tax rate than most nurses, firefighters, and police officers. We are at a crucial crossroads in the course of our nation’s history, balancing on the brink of completely abandoning the American dream as we slip into oligarchy. While median wages in the United States have remained stagnant in the face of steadily rising costs of living, CEO pay has grown at an unprecedented rate – over 900% since 1978.
Nowhere in California is income inequality worse than right here in San Francisco. The average income of the top 1% in our city is $3.6 million, compared to an average of just over $81,000 for the bottom 99%. From 1989 to 2016, the 1% increased their share of San Francisco’s overall income by 15%, and they now take home over 30% of San Francisco’s economic productivity. If we want to set a true progressive model for the future of our country, we can no longer tolerate such a gross collective moral failure of our society.
Proposal: To make meaningful progress and put more wealth in the hands of America’s middle class, we must first pass comprehensive campaign finance reform that returns control of Congress to the people, rather than the lobbyists who currently write policy. Then, we must pass progressive tax reform that holds the top 1% of earners and billion dollar corporations accountable, eases the burden on small businesses, and creates the revenue necessary to reinvest in our communities.
This reinvestment can take numerous forms, the most crucial of which will be new funding to fill the gaps in our K-12 public schools and extend a pre-k and community college education to all Americans. Additionally, we must address the widespread displacement of workers as a result of automation and outsourcing through increased benefits and workforce training programs. Perhaps most crucial, however, will be the restoration of workers’ collective bargaining rights. Congress needs to pass legislation outlawing “right to work” laws that undermine unions and mandate that all employers with over 100 employees conduct card-checks and provide their employees the resources necessary to unionize.