“Inequality matters,” Bill said in a recent essay. “You will hear people say it doesn’t, but they are usually so high up the ladder they can’t even see those at the bottom.” The distance between the first and the least in America is indeed vast and growing — proven by shocking statistics and personal stories of challenge and hardship, made even harder by policies and political collusion that reward the wealthy at the cost of everyone else. Learn more about the class gap, how it happened, what’s making it worse and what you can do about it.

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  • Gerald Cooper

    Bill’s message, and those of his guests, are so important! Do you have a media strategy for getting the messages of guests like Chilton and Jacobson to the people who have ALL THE MONEY–”the top 200 chief executives at public companies with at least $1 billion in revenue actually got a big raise last year, over all.” See below at

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/30/business/an-unstoppable-climb-in-ceo-pay.html?_r=0

    Let us viewers know what we can do to play a role–is there an online service we can use to send opinions and ideas from Moyers & Co. to these folks who make all the money? I am not skilled at social media, but I have some time and I’d like to help.

  • Thomas Colosimo

    Hello Bill: I watched your conversation with Charlie Rose and was struck by how differently the simple facts that you and he discussed are viewed by segments of the public. It was sad to think that Congress was recently proposing to reduce the food stamp program, yet maintain the capital gains treatment of carried interest. This is just one person’s view on a possible piece of the solution – eliminate the favorable tax treatment of capitals gains, other than for a small band of gains which would be the same for all income brackets. Most low to middle income individuals get zero benefit from capital gains. They may invest funds in IRAs and 401(k) plans, which in turn may be invested in mutual funds or stocks and bonds, but the distributions are all treated as ordinary income. Treating income from wages equally with income from capital would remove the current incentive to take greater risks with capital – hence the recent crash in financial and real estate assets. The great fall was in large part driven by two large tax breaks – the favorable capital gains tax, especially carried interest for hedge funds and private equity firms, and the exclusion of gains on residences for home owners. Greater risk is always taken when the incentives are higher. Gains from taking risk are limited to the risk takers, while the broader economic losses created by the failures are spread among all of us. Overall tax rates could then be brought down slightly, but still maintain a progressive system. A progressive system will always be fairer because it recognizes the realities of disposable income. If only one change could be enacted, it should be the elimination of carried interest. I have a Masters in Tax, and have been in public accounting and a CFO in the health insurance and banking industries. I might be branded a heretic by my colleagues, but I have seen the inequities first hand. People can still get rich, but they won’t be unfairly rewarded at the expense of everyone else. I could also go on about the unbelievable inequities in our health care delivery and financing systems, but that is for another day. Thank you.

  • Paula Celeste Rich

    Sorry, but I feel like you just don’t get it. You can put forth all kinds of sensible, fair solutions, but our bought and paid for Congress will never pass them, because they ‘hurt’ the 2%. I also have MANY logical answers to our problems, but until we have meaningful campaign finance reform and term limits, none of them will be seriously considered. Otherwise, why wouldn’t they have already made it so SS taxes are paid on all income, not just the first $110K of earned income?

  • Therese Meuel

    from your fingers to gods ear….

  • Anonymous

    Term limits + pay decreases + health insurance= same as citizen.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Bill. We just saw this in our Sociology class today. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZ7LzE3u7Bw

    What I find interesting is that inequality causes problems even for those at the top. Medical and mental health is worse for all in such societies. Please watch this TED talk. You may find it helpful. Peace.

  • Anonymous

    We also saw this in our sociology class. It shows wealth inequality in America. http://visual.ly/wealth-inequality-america
    When you watch it you will see that 92% of the American public agree what the ideal wealth distribution should be. So my question is this: what tax or other policies will it take to reach that ideal wealth disrtibution that 92% of Americans want?

  • Anonymous

    I’d like to propose a modified version of Adam Smith’s directive on banks. He wrote banks should be kept small & tightly regulated. My version, all financials institutions, including those that are functionally equivalent, shall be kept small & tightly regulated.

    In the case of capital gains (carried interest is no more a capital gain than a dog is a cat) index for inflation and tax the indexed value as ordinary income.

    Eliminate deductibility of expenses for off shoring jobs. If the revenue for foreign manufacture & sales do not get repatriated & taxed, the expenses cannot be deducted from domestic revenues and they may not be used in calculating performance for purposes of mgt performance or bonuses.

    Ig you have ideas email your senators & reps. and call their offices.

  • Anonymous

    One last thing; here is a study showing the higher the economic class the more unethical their behavior. http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/02/21/1118373109.abstract
    This being the case, how do you think it is posslble to change things?

  • Jim Osborne

    This conversation, about the wealth gap, is the most important conversation America will ever have. We cannot have starving children on one end and mega wealth on the other end. Our society will crumble under these conditions.

  • DavidW

    Today, it appears that our political democracy springs from those with economic power, unfair and unbalanced economic power. To right that, with the current divide and conquer tactics being used on us will be difficult. To muster the support from a populace that is too busy working two or more jobs, working survival jobs, living with underemployment, making their rent, unmotivated to participate, uneducated to the point where it contributes to their lack of motivation is difficult.

    Why not fight fire with fire or money with money. How about an economic solution, that can inject economic democracy into the system. To allow those harried worker bees the economic ability to have free time and the education to fully participate in our political democracy?

    We can do that by changing the economy by using capital as a tool by pooling our resources both creative and financial capital to start cooperative enterprises to meet our economic, social, and cultural needs. Food Co-operatives, Credit Unions, Mutual Insurance companies, worker Co-ops and their allies can be the core of a new cooperative economy.

    It can “starve” the current players if we shift our dollars, voting with our dollars to support and build these enterprises without having to resort to boycotts, it would be a “buycott.” Build our own economic strength and limit that transfer of money from us to the 1%.

    Look up the Rochdale Pioneers 1844 for details on the history of cooperative business.

  • http://www.billmoyers.com Theresa Riley

    Or look at these posts on BillMoyers.com:

    How Worker-Owned Companies Work: http://billmoyers.com/2013/03/22/how-worker-owned-companies-work/

    What is a Benefit (B) Corporation?

    http://billmoyers.com/content/what-is-a-benefit-b-corporation/

  • DavidW

    Food Justice is but charity, when donations and contributions stop so does the work of that charity. Economic Justice, goes to the core of the issue, inequality of opportunity limited access to capital. To overcome the argument that only exceptional people get to own businesses, crowdfunding had been going on well before kickstarter.

    Since 1844 when the Rochdale Pioneers wrote down a plan to cooperatively own a grocery as a means to take control of food and make irrelevant those shopkeepers who adulterated oats with sand and flour with plaster, this movement has been helping people work and live a better way.

    Education and outreach to build this model is beginning to wake up the populace to the practical approach of Credit Unions and Food Cooperatives. Businesses that retain and circulate more of the wealth we create everyday within our own communities, bypassing the corporate old monied (or new monied) elites.

    We can make it better, if you make those connections to build our cooperative economy.

  • Dracul Jan Ivanescu

    Wonder how many cable subscriptions would be cancelled if they close SNAP. No more Fox News or CNN or MSNBC wonder how that will work out food or cable tv/internet? btw internet is essental because most benefits are managed through a internet portal and you need to be able to print or at least ask to print.

  • Maureen Leyva

    0% interest: Retirement stolen, future ruined.
    ===================================
    Seniors and savers who depend on their nest eggs are singularly exploited by
    government’s zero interest policy which results in loss of value of what they
    have in “safe” savings. Younger generations give up on any savings plans out of despair from seeing how their older family members lose the value of theirs.
    Seniors should not have to defend their savings by being forced into risky investments; they have all the burden of their money going to bankers and industry and none of the benefit of low interest loans, etc.
    Seniors are a vulnerable group who cannot actively fight this, and maybe, cannot believe their country
    would do this to them. The near 0
    percent rate policy, now 5 years in existence, places them where certain poverty,
    thus a shortened life span, and
    miserable existence is certain. With this policy, cutting back on life’s basic
    enjoyments and necessities will only accelerate in their remaining lifetime and
    they are denied the modest life worked for and planned for. Some despair
    daily in the realization the future is so bleak.

  • Maynard McKillen

    Some financial planner was very recently quoted as saying something that approximates, “If the poor have saved no money during their working years, why should they have any in retirement?” Can anyone recall who said this? I want to quote it as an example of a diseased mindset.

  • Martha Burk

    50 Years From the War on Poverty – Win or Lose? http://t.co/RbSSMIXIoB Today’s commentary. Keep #women #poverty front page HuffPost Pls COMMENT & SHARE! http://t.co/PhGCuVzOnT

  • Anonymous

    One of the people that used that statement is Bill Terrell who now lives with his mother.

  • William Smith

    the shifting of retirement responsibility from employers to 401k plans is another way for wall street and shareholders to exploit workers whose money is pooled into large funds while taking the gains in the form of fees and every few years a meltdown occurs to lower individual value while wall rebounds just fine

  • ZappedAgain

    A concern about the Affordable Care Act which makes health insurance more affordable for those who qualify for a tax credit – how ever it is worded, it has turned out to be a tax on those working class who do not qualify. Some citizens who do not quality (AGI over $94,200) are asked to assume a higher monthly premium that can be over double the cost for the same coverage paid in 2013. That can be considered a new tax or a penalty but again the working class is bearing the brunt. The tax should have been on the wealthy (AGI over $250,000) [or should we word that as the tax credit should have been for those with an AGI below $249,999)] not as usual on the backs of those who pay the brunt of taxes, full tuition, …full price for everything.

    We recently signed a petition calling on South Carolina’s elected leaders to expand Medicaid, which is now possible thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Will that too be on the backs of the working class thus reducing our purchasing power even further? The income ladder rungs seem to be completely disappearing.

  • ZappedAgain

    A concern about the Affordable Care Act which makes health insurance more affordable for those who qualify for a tax credit – how ever it is worded, it has turned out to be a tax on those working class who do not qualify. Some citizens who do not quality (AGI over $94,200) are asked to assume a higher monthly premium that can be over double the cost for the same coverage paid in 2013. That can be considered a new tax or a penalty but again the working class is bearing the brunt. The tax should have been on the wealthy (AGI over $250,000) [or should we word that as the tax credit should have been for those with an AGI below $249,999)] not as usual on the backs of those who pay the brunt of taxes, full tuition, …full price for everything.

    We recently signed a petition calling on South Carolina’s elected leaders to expand Medicaid, which is now possible thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Will that too be on the backs of the working class thus reducing our purchasing power even further? The income ladder rungs seem to be completely disappearing.

  • James Irving

    Is the speaker truly interested in economic inequality? Check it out. If they are wiling to divest themselves of all of their assets, save what they need for food and shelter, and donate it to a bona fide charity to distribute it to the needy, they are serious. Otherwise, they are frauds who only want to pontificate,

  • Dude

    Finally, someone else talking reality on this web site. I would add that it is very curious that the truly upper income group (top 1/10th of 1 pct of income earners) is the group the President / Democrats sought to raise taxes on only minimally. In other words, the President thought it just fine to increase the taxes on doctors, lawyers and small business owners, the people that work a lot of hours and just fit into the “1pct” income band, but not the uber wealthy that are paying only 15 pct on their capital gains earnings. There needs to be an understanding of just how hypocritical the President, the Democrats and the Republicans are. They all deem it acceptable to give the class of people that can make million dollar campaign donations a tax pass. That said, I am not interested at all in class warfare and envy of the “rich”. The “1pct” is morally no better or worse than the rest of the population. If people make a lot of money I am happy for them. I just think the bottom part of the “1pct” should not have to pay a tax rate that is more than two times what the top part of the 1pct is paying. The reality is that the bottom part of the “1pct” (the majority of the “1pct”) is paying taxes far above their percentage representation in the population.

  • http://www.socialjustice1118.blogspot.com/ Darryl Harris

    Charter School System allow discrimination to play itself out through Policy, While both Private Prisons, benefit from political corruption in Indiana. They effectively picked the winners and the losers in education. Our children are the ones who suffered the Most.

    Gary School Corporation played a major part in what happened here.. my hometown. Yep and they are democrats who played the GOP, Newt Gingrich Charter School game.

    Profits over our children’s futures. Teachers were told to grade children 18% lower than their actual grade, so the schools could fail, and the State could hire a “Turnaround” Corp. Where by Investment opportunities would be made available. Procuring our Public Dollars in to the private sector.

    Yep you got it, thats what happened… the children are suffering from that .. more delinquency, and incarcerations, due to hopelessness, While Prisons gain profits from conditions created by this 7 year long Heist of public education.

    Gary, Hammond, and East Chicago and other mayors in the region are using policing constantly keeping the area under surveillance, doing sweeps through the community, locking up more for Non violent crimes thus feeding the Prison System. Its big business in Indiana .. Prison Contracts state every year they are to be guaranteed a particular amount of inmates and our own Mayor of Gary and other cities in NWI has formed a “Stop Team” in the name of stopping crime?

    Who’s gonna stop them?

    http://www.amazon.com/Hoosier-School-Heist-Doug-Martin/dp/0982084013/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1395869589&sr=8-1&keywords=hoosier+school+heist

  • Anonymous

    Exxon-Mobil: GLADEWATER GAS UNIT #5

    No wonder Exxon-Mobil stopped talking to my me and my family in 1989, nine years after the lease came in………….HIGH COST GAS/12,500 feet perfection/90,000,000 cf/month while prorated. That first well perforated the Haynesville-Bossier Shale but why would the company stop talking to us. A allegation was rumored that my grandmother had passed away; Exxon-Mobil began its dehumanization of us with its demand for proof of life which we provided with certified documents. It refused to increase our royalty interest and denied me contact as the family counsel; Why?

    The racist intent is evident when the reality of an oil well not pumping oil is on your lease,you are black in Texas, and your family has owned the land and mineral rights since the 1870′s but didn’t get a oil/gas lease in the East Texas Oil Field in Upshur County until 1980. The generation we lost since then did not reap the opportunities of being in the Gladewater Field because we are black. It is just that simple after examining the production database at the Texas Railroad Commission which confirms that Upshur County is producing billions of cubic feet of gas and millions of barrels of oil.

    The development of the Gladewater Field has been spectacular and the realization that Haynesville Shale will keep royalty owners if they are white paid their fair share of the profits off the oil and gas for decades to come.

  • KennethKrieger

    Corporations mostly give to both parties so they can get favorable legislation passed. The Democrats had a majority during the first 2 years of the Obama administration and did not pass so called fairer corporate tax legislation, bur you love Democrats and you cover up for them. The same situation is gay marriage and citizrenship for Mexicans during those 2 years Democrats. had the majority. If you were not a communist, social, left wing nut and really were an independent thinker, you an I could have a beer summit and solve the worlds problems. Kenneth Krieger Cape Coral, Florida

  • CORNBRED III

    The consensus following a collaborative effort with biologists and economists was that, at our current rate of consumption, we would need approximately 1.5 earths to sustain life as we know it. If we increased the buying power for all Americans (and with any hope, lifted third world nations out of poverty) would mother nature be able to keep up with the demand? While I am sure corporations could tap into their profits to increases wages for workers around the globe with little or no impact, I am not so sure the environment can keep pace.

  • Anonymous

    MAYDAY.US for Getting BIG $$ out of politics .

  • Gina Patacca

    I would like to send the following open letter to the 1%:
    Dear Multi-billionaire Captain of Industry:
    I ask that you take a few moments from your hectic schedule of corporate wheeling and dealing, union-busting, job-outsourcing, tax-evading, fracking, air and water polluting, credit default swapping, congressman-buying and Guatemalan golf caddy upbraiding to consider one small thing: the button. Yes that’s right, the button on your very expensive Armani shirt. I don’t care which one. How many people’s labor and ingenuity do you think that button represents? Let’s trace the life of that little button right from the moment when no part of it existed to its presence now on your shirt. Well, no wait a minute. In order to tell the story more fully, we really ought to begin way before your particular button was created. Let’s begin with the people who…
    -invented the button and the buttonhole, then…
    -experimented with the many materials buttons have been made of
    -invented plastic, especially polyester – the modern material for most buttons
    -designed, manufactured, repaired and wrote manuals for button-making machines
    -operated the machines and the people who trained them
    -packaged the button, delivered the button, sewed the button onto the shirt & sold the shirt to you.
    Then we can add all the people whose labor the people mentioned above depended on such as providers of food, clothing (including buttons!), shelter, sanitation, fuel, transportation, roads, bridges, education, medical care, etc., etc.
    So getting back to my original question: how many people’s labor does this button represent? I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that the number is in the millions
    and growing exponentially. And that is for JUST ONE OF YOUR BUTTONS!!
    Now what was that you were saying about being a self-made man?

  • a man

    nope

  • jeffery evans

    Creating jobs and economic wealth since since the civil rights era and has been the primary responsibility of the top 1 per cent. While integration was a great social move for America it decimated the black business original american enterprise. It made historical museums of black baseball leagues.insurance and the dominance of,black colleges athletics and many other industries. The legendary Football coach Eddie Robinson did not have the same budget as Coach Bear Bryant.

    Generational systematic Roadblocks will diminish dreams, distort vision,decimate family and all of these things kill community economic growth. It you do not want to understand building a black american economy that will create jobs and prosperity and make America stronger.. Then this is rocket science. if you do understand this is worthy of strategy and action.

  • Patti BluCowgirl Holly

    Arthur Brooks must be semi-afraid to meet his maker and is trying to ease his sad, lying and fraudulent little brain. The problem is he is too brainwashed to be honest! Sickening and wrong… He doesn’t even seem to be able to be honest with himself, he certainly wasn’t honest with Mr. Moyers :(

  • Erica Harth

    Thanks to Maureen Levya for pointing out the special economic vulnerabilities of seniors.

    My husband and I, respectively semi-retired and retired professionals, recently learned a variation on the theme “a paycheck away from homelessness.” In May, a pipe burst in our apartment building resulted in massive flooding that propelled us into homelessness. Since then, because of difficulties with our insurance, we have been living at various friends’ houses. We are now on our fifth domicile.

    We count ourselves as lucky: we have friends, resourcefulness, and a limited amount of resources. So we settled the problems with our insurance, but we may still be deeply out of pocket after the upcoming months of rentals that we face. Our pensions and social security, our homeowners’ and health insurance suddenly look like a very fragile “safety net.”

    It is easy to take advantage of seniors in our position, even seniors who may be considered “comfortable.” We have to keep our eyes and ears constantly open.

    Watch for my forthcoming blog on “homes away from home.”

  • Rebecca Stephens

    Did I miss something? Besides EITC, was there any other suggestion for helping those on the lower end of the scale?

  • Vincent S Hart Jr

    Why is it that the “only” acceptable solution to the federal deficit problem is to cut benefits to the least well off while avoiding or evading any financial contribution by the most well off? Whatever happened to “promote the general welfare” as a central purpose of our constitutional government?

  • Michael A Manor

    The United States no longer exists. Democracy is dead in this country…whatever it is. Suggesting otherwise is a joke. And, as there is no fairness, there is no hope. It is only by the same means our founders took that we will avail ourselves of fairness and recover our country from the insanity and immorality of greed.

  • Joan Anundson Ahr

    What can the power of stillness in meditation offer us for creating change in our country? Gandhi showed us. What does the U.S. do to regimes that abuse the citizens of other countries? Sanctions. What are our alternatives when voting within the system is crippled by the self serving partnership between the Supreme Court, our elected representatives and big money corporate greed? What if we stop being consumers in 2015; using cash for essentials only. Our own personal, but collective sanction from within. A drop that becomes an ocean. A shot heard around the world.