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Business Ethics & Professional Responsibility Should The United States Care About Income Inequality?

1807 words - 8 pages

Business Ethics & Professional Responsibility - Should the United States Care About Income Inequality?Income inequality represents a threat to US political, social and economic stability and should be addressed via a progressive tax code directed towards promoting social mobility.Why should we care about income inequality?1. Income inequality impacts the United States' well-being via reduced overall marginal utility. The consumption of wealthy has less marginal utility than consumption of the poor struggling for basic resources. Simply, a $1,000 increase in income means a lot more to a family of four living at the poverty line with an income of $23,850 than it does to a family with an ...view middle of the document...

Up to a point of a basic standard of living, Bentham's notion of equal happiness should be considered to hold true. The basic needs of all citizens should be prioritized not only because such a focus would rationally pursue the greatest utility. Income effects are non-linear and stronger at lower income levels. It is only after marginal utility is maximized at a level where all happinesses are equal (think the satisfaction of basic needs) can we move on to Mill's notion of higher levels of happiness (think art, music, education, and creativity). Income inequality means that those struggling to merely survive cannot turn their attention to the pursuit of personal improvement.[2: Layard, Richard, Mayraz, Guy and Nickell, Stephen J (2007) The marginal utility of income. http://darp.lse.ac.uk/papersdb/Layard_etal_(JPubEcon08).pdf][3: Mill, John Stuart, Utilitarianism (Project Gutenberg online edition). http://www.gutenberg.org/files/11224/11224-h/11224-h.htm#CHAPTER_II][4: Duncan, Greg, and Brooks-Gunn, J. (1997). Consequences of growing up poor. New York: Russell Sage.]2. Income inequality reduces the equality of opportunity. The poor are unable to obtain a quality education and are unable to escape/improve environments that hinder opportunity for economic growth while the wealthy are able to maximize their opportunities. Most would like to consider the United States a meritocracy. We all generally agree that hard, honest work should be rewarded and we all should have an equal chance at success. However, the economic reality is that we all do not have the equal opportunity for success. Children born into poor households are likely to suffer negative into adulthood. A 2010 study from Harvard, Northwestern University, and the University of Chicago concluded that there are "quantitatively large detrimental effects of early poverty on a number of attainment-related outcomes (adult earnings, work hours, receipt of transfer income)," and specifically that, "a $3,000 annual increase in income between a child's prenatal and birth year is associated with 19% higher earnings and a 135-hour increase in work hours." The environment a child is raised in is out of his or her control and we should not allow a poor environment to taint a child's chance at personal achievement later in the future. The negative effects of an impoverished childhood are self-sustaining. Poor children beget poor adults who beget poor children. At the other end of the spectrum, a 2012 study from the London School of Economics concluded that "parental wealth is positively associated with all outcomes examined (which include educational attainment, employment, earnings and homeownership)." Income inequality thus reinforces itself by limiting opportunity. Low income families must focus on the present. The future is of little concern when the immediate primary concern is providing dinner for a family or surviving life in an impoverished neighborhood. High income families can have the luxury...

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