We Must Make Our Choice
"We must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." Justice Louis D. Brandeis
In the United States today, the “concentration of wealth” – aka the amount of wealth concentrated in the top 0.1% – is at the same level it was during the Gilded Age when citizens decried the rise of “Robber Barons” and fought for better wages and working conditions.
While the concentration of wealth remains the same, the sheer amount that makes up the gap is striking: the richest 0.1% average more than 188 times the income of the bottom 90 percent.
Economic inequality runs deeper and wider for women and people of color for whom pervasive sex and racial discrimination has led to stark differences in income, wealth, and well-being. For women, more than 35% of households headed by single women with children were living in poverty, more than double the amount of men with children living in poverty (17%).
The median wealth of Black families is $3,500, while Latinx families median wealth is $6,500, both far below the $147,000 median wealth for white families in the United States today.
Today, we have concentrated wealth and it will take participatory democracy at the national, state, and local level to turn the tide toward progressive economic policies that benefit the 90% and close the racial wealth gap.
In the past few years, MCRC has accomplished a lot:
-Our SOAR (Securing Older Adult Resources) program has saved older adults in Baltimore City $903,660. SOAR has promoted tax credits, which provide an economic boost to older adults and low-income homeowners and renters. SOAR staff distributed 22,200 brochures on tax credits to libraries, churches, and partners, and our website, www.Marylandtaxcredit.com has received more than 14,655 unique hits since launching in February 2017. In 2018, SOAR assisted 165 households in applying for renters and homeowners tax credits.
-We released innovative new research including “No Exit,” which describes Maryland’s debt collection system and the ways in which it deepens poverty and widens the racial wealth gap; and “Taking the Low Road,” which documents how some auto insurers charge women drivers more than comparable male drivers.
-We built coalitions and advocated for systemic change. MCRC led the fight to eliminate the “widow’s penalty” from auto insurance, saving surviving spouses an average of $435 per year. MCRC spearheaded efforts to close a loophole to end payday lending and predatory 400% interest rates in Maryland. MCRC passed the first law in the country to stop for-profit schools from disguising themselves as nonprofits. And MCRC has been leading the fight to end debtors’ prisons in Maryland – our efforts have raised awareness and support for stopping this practice – and recently the Rules Committee has passed new language requiring proof of service before someone can be arrested for a consumer debt.
And yet, despite our success, there is more work to be done. We need to expand the movement for economic rights in Maryland.
Join us as an individual or organizational member to educate, mobilize, and advocate for a just economy. As a member, you receive can receive our newsletter, research assistance, campaign planning assistance, access to lobby days, and much more.
There are a number of benefits to being a member, but the biggest is working with others to create a more inclusive economy.
If you can’t join today, I hope you will consider a one-time gift to sustain our efforts.
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Thank you for your support.