We’ve been hearing statistics like these with growing regularity: the top 1% of Americans controls 42% of the nation’s wealth; the wage gap between CEOs and average workers has grown to 587 to 1; and the top 1% pay state taxes around 5.4%, while the bottom 20% pay almost 11%, double that of their counterparts at the top of the economic pyramid. How have we come to this place of such drastic inequality? And what can we do to restore some measure of balance?
We discuss such questions with Les Leopold, co-founder and director of the Labor Institute, a nonprofit educational organization that designs programs on occupational health and safety, the environment and economics for unions and community groups. He is also the author of four books, most recently Runaway Inequality: An Activist’s Guide to Economic Justice.