While stating, “If you work hard, you should make a decent living,” in a speech at the Center for American Progress at THEARC in Washington, DC on Wednesday U.S. President Barack Obama stated that the increasing wealth inequality which has plagued America for the past thirty years has been and continues to be a threat to the nation’s economy and democracy.
In his speech President Obama touched on several areas where the government has been and will continue to be a positive player in the struggle to help provide opportunities for upward mobility and to create more security for all Americans through tough times: affordable and easily accessible education for Americans of all ages, affordable quality-based healthcare, fair wages for honest work, unemployment insurance which provides financial security for those who lose their jobs by no fault of their own, and social security which has provided millions of American senior citizens the ability to remain out of poverty.
He gave a short history of how time and time again when the country faced economic and social issues requiring a reexamination of our society’s social and economic contracts with individuals, the nation as a whole has moved forward.
“The idea that so many children are born into poverty in the wealthiest nation on Earth is heartbreaking enough,” the President remarked. Continuing, he said, “But the idea that a child may never be able to escape that poverty because she lacks a decent education or health care, or a community that views her future as their own, that should offend all of us and it should compel us to action. We are a better country than this.”
Noting the sad fact that other industrialized countries now have greater economic upward mobility that the United States, Obama noted that wealth inequality is not only morally wrong, it also makes no sense economically as such inequity weakens the economy for all, rich and poor alike.
With free market economist Adam Smith was on his side, President Obama made a call for Congress to pass an increase in the federal minimum wage, stating, “If you work hard, you should make a decent living. If you work hard, you should be able to support a family.”
“A broad majority of Americans agree that we should raise the minimum wage,” he added. “I’m going to keep pushing until we get a higher minimum wage for hard-working Americans across the entire country. It will be good for our economy. It will be good for our families.”
Calling for a hand up rather than a hand out, the President also called for investment in communities across the country that have suffered greatly through the change in the economic landscape of America over the past decade.