Although the United States continues to struggle under the weight of President Donald Trump’s belligerence, underlying issues like wealth inequality haven’t vanished. While big money interests like Chase Bank continue to chastise low income people for daring to buy — wait for it — “lunch,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) has shared her perspective on the situation, slamming the idea that there’s some kind of issue on the poor people’s part underlying their poverty. In short, she went from waitressing just a year ago to serving in Congress today, and it goes mostly without saying — her paycheck skyrocketed. Yet, it’s not as though she’s all of a sudden a different person.
She tweeted, in part:
‘3 paychecks in has shown me how 1 of the greatest scams in US is the idea that financial struggle is due to “poor character.”.. The myth that bad credit or struggling w bills = irresponsibility is a heinous myth. Paying people less than what’s needed to live is what’s actually irresponsible. GDP + costs are rising, wages are not. That doesn’t mean YOU’RE bad. It means working people are set up to fail.’
As Ocasio-Cortez suggests, the Pew Research Center shared late last year:
‘[D]espite some ups and downs over the past several decades, today’s real average wage (that is, the wage after accounting for inflation) has about the same purchasing power it did 40 years ago.’
It goes without saying that goods tend to cost significantly more than they did 40 years ago thanks to inflation. According to the same information from Pew, average hourly earnings peaked a full 45 or so years ago — in January 1973, Americans commonly earned some $4.03 an hour, which translates to a full $23.68 an hour in today’s dollars. In the twelve months ending last December, average hourly wages rose some 1.5% — hardly anywhere near enough to cover for a gap decades in the making.
Some conversation about this subject has been sparked thanks to a social media post Chase Bank shared suggesting that buying coffee and food and sometimes taking a cab could be a key cause of financial woes. A similar talking point that USA Today parroted suggested that the “average American” spends some $1,497 a month on items they can go without — like $174 they put in the “lunch” category.
Ocasio-Cortez isn’t the only one to speak out against the notions — prominent figures like presidential candidate and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have as well. Trump is trying to run his re-election campaign on the strength of the economy, but since 2000, “among people in the top tenth of the distribution, real wages have risen a cumulative 15.7%, to $2,112 a week – nearly five times the usual weekly earnings of the bottom tenth ($426).”
Check out Twitter’s response to Ocasio-Cortez taking this on…
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