Feb. 20: Film, Discussion to Examine Shrinking Middle Class
Augustana's Union Board of Governors will host a screening of the Sundance Film Festival's award-winning documentary "Inequality for All" followed by a discussion with Augustana economics experts Dr. Reynold Nesiba and Dr. Robert Wright at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 20, in Kresge Recital Hall.
The event, which is free and open to the public, will be moderated by Augustana's Chair of Moral Values Dr. Joel Johnson (Government and International Affairs).
"Inequality for All," is led by Robert Reich, secretary of Labor under President Clinton, a revered professor, charismatic pundit and author of 13 books. "Bob" as he's referred to in the film, shines a light on the urgency of this issue – outlining facts, including how economic imbalances are now at near historically unprecedented levels, and asking tough questions, such as: what is the link between high inequality and economic crashes? What happened to the Middle Class?
"As Americans, we've been taught there's a basic bargain at the heart of our society: work hard, play by the rules and you can make a better life for yourself. But over the last 35 years, this bargain has been broken. Middle class incomes have stagnated or dropped over the same period during which the American economy has more than doubled. So where did all that money go? The facts are clear – it went to the top earners," the film says. "In 1970, the top 1 percent of earners took home 9 percent of the nation's income. Today, they take in approximately 23 percent. The top 1 percent holds more than 35 percent of the nation's overall wealth, while the bottom 50 percent controls a meager 2.5 percent. The last time wealth was this concentrated was in 1928, on the eve of the Great Depression."
"This is the moment in history in which we find ourselves: unprecedented income divisions, a wildly fluctuating and unstable economy, and average Americans increasingly frustrated and disillusioned. The debate about income inequality has become part of the national discussion, and this is a good thing," the film continues. "'Inequality for All' connects the dots for viewers, showing why dealing with the widening gap between the rich and everyone else isn't just about moral fairness."