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Inequality within the United States is an emergent issue that must engage both public administration and the general populace. Only through such a collaborative approach can the Great Divide be addressed at the root level. This report will analyze relevant drivers leading to increased inequality and subsequently propose appropriate recommendations.
Joseph Stiglitz wrote an article identifying such drivers as market structures (i.e. monopolies and oligopolies) enabling disproportionate payouts. Top administrators are realizing profits that are approximately three hundred percent greater than frontline workers. The downside is that this is occurring without equitable increase in productivity. In contrast Sweden, Finland and Norway are realizing more equitable per capita incomes at various organizational levels. The article further addressed the role of government in establishing regulations that resulted in a safer, healthier, and a far superior environment. It stated that the collapse of the Soviet system became a prejudicial judgment against significant Government involvement (Stiglitz, 2014).
In another article Maria Konnikova addresses several misconceptions about poverty. It is often inaccurately viewed as a physical marvel. However, there are three dimensions or types of poverty including time, money, and cognitive capacity. The general understanding of poverty is that it is associated with lack of money. Time-sensitive debt is often the enemy of the poor. When combined, lack of time and money adversely affect ones cognitive capacity. It forces an individual to remain focused on present fiscal concerns versus strategic future planning. The downside to this conundrum is obviously errors in judgment and poor future planning (KONNIKOVA, 2014).
Other statistics reveal inequality resulting from declining educational achievement by certain minority groups. Between the ages of 11 and 21, approximately 33 percent of Black and Latino youth will fail to graduate from respective classes. Greater support is needed during this time due to challenges such lack of family support, harsher neighborhoods, and increased family duties (Balfanz, 2014).
One partnership Diplomas Now (DN) provides a model that U.S. public administration can use as a blueprint for addressing the educational disparity. The DN program is a collaborative co-ed effort between three national nonprofits. It has provided support for thirty thousand youth in at risk middle and high-schools across fourteen cities. The areas of subject support include math and English (Balfanz, 2014).
There are built-in mechanisms such as an early warning system that preemptively identifies at risk youth who could ultimately either fail a grade, or drop out entirely. Early results are positive indicators including a forty one percent drop in youth absenteeism, and a seventy percent lower suspension rate. Additionally, the number of students failing English and math has been reduced by sixty-nine and fifty two percent respectively (Balfanz, 2014).
Allice Goffman provided an article that outlined a proclivity to misinterpret the drivers of inequality existent within poorer neighborhoods. There was an example provided where several young men identified as Chuck and Mike, addressed poverty and joblessness by resorting to illegal activities. The objective is to convert such illegal trade into legal methods for income that also minimize the need for police enforcement and the subsequent conflict with such communities. Some police analysts have mistakenly identified the issue as police legitimacy. However public or government administrations need to address systems and solutions to mitigate the chronic poverty, joblessness, and drug addiction rampant within such communities. The judicial system needs to be subsequently viewed as a community partner as opposed to a source of fear and mistrust (Goffman, 2014).
There are existent programs that have been initiated by the government such as the Head Start program. However due to the underwhelming results from a 2012 evaluation there have been requests to focus on more effective programs such as state-financed pre-kindergarten programs. However, there is evidence that students who have been a part of the Head Start program do flourish later in their schooling as a result of fundamentals gained (Kirp, 2014).
One possible resolution to program improvement is the subsidizing of such programs in order to ensure that it does not remain chronically underfunded. The necessity of subsidizing programs in order to ensure long-term viability has been understood by assessing Medicare and Medicaid. Underfunding such programs inevitably leads to staffing and enrollment issues. Although we typically think about subsidizing such programs through Government funding, there are alternatives. For example Rosemount Center, in Washington D.C., has served a mixed population of children. In this instance some children receive subsidized or sponsored tuition while others pay between $9,600 and $20,400 based on income (Kirp, 2014).
Analyzing Inequality from the perspective of Ferguson
The issue that has both shaken and simultaneously galvanized communities around the world is the unfortunate death of a black youth named Mike Brown. The issue of another minority executed following an altercation with a police officer, has angered individuals ranging from Harvard College students to church goers. Particularly troubling is the fact that Brown was laying in the street for approximately four and a half hours following the execution. Ferguson Missouri is the location of the incident that has raised serious questions regarding equal justice and claims of racial profiling. The socio-economic and cultural diversity of those protesting the Ferguson shooting have propelled the issue to national and global prominence (Yan, 2014).
Subsequently there are specific steps that are being initiated by President Obama to address the issue from a systematic approach. This includes community policing initiatives that focus on increasing training and funding for domestic law enforcement agencies. This approach is in response to concerns that by equipping police departments with military weapons the federal Government is aiding such abuses. The addition of mechanisms to track such equipment combined with body-worn cameras serves several purposes (Yan, 2014).
It ensures that police officers remain protected while risking their lives serving the community, while simultaneously creating greater accountability. Additionally, President Obama has created a task force that is co-chaired by a police commissioner and criminology professor. The objective will be to establish collaborative dialogue between law enforcement, community activists, and other shareholders. In the wake of such a divisive and volatile national event, reestablishing trust between officers and the community is paramount (Yan, 2014).
In conclusion the role of government will vary based on the specific type of inequality (i.e. educational, housing, job, justice). However, what is critical is to look beyond the surface issues to the deeper systematic issues within a specific system. The New York Times series the Great Divide has provided numerous examples of historic instances of inequality. If change is going to happen it must be initiated by top administrators, officials, business owners, and those considered designers of policy and law. Meanwhile, those frontline and lower income constituents must continue to express dissatisfaction with such inequality in order to pressure the system to change.
Balfanz, R. (2014, June 7). Stop Holding us Back. Retrieved from http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/06/07/stop-holding-us-back/#more-153256
Goffman, A. (2014, May 31). This Fugitive Life. Retrieved from http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/05/31/this-fugitive-life/#more-153157
KONNIKOVA, M. (2014, June 13). No Money, No Time. Retrieved from http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/06/13/no-clocking-out/#more-153331
Kirp, D. L. (2014, May 10). The Benefits of Mixing Rich and Poor. Retrieved from http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/05/10/the-benefits-of-mixing-rich-and-poor/#more-152970
Stiglitz, J. E. (2014, June 27). Inequality Is Not Inevitable. Retrieved from http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/category/the-great-divide/?_r=0
Yan, H. (2014, December 2). 'Ferguson is everywhere': More crowds demand action as Obama lays out plan. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2014/12/02/us/ferguson-aftermath/