spread the wealth; build the wealth

Two interesting reports, both of which I came to through the Creative Class blog, that connect well with our current political discourse. Of course both candidates are promising everyone in America above-average incomes, b/c they believe, quite rightly, that Americans can’t handle the truth and are quite happy to slay the messenger. But I digress.

A new UN Report (reported here in the Vancouver Sun) indicates that "Major U.S. cities including New York, Washington, Atlanta and New
Orleans have levels of economic inequality that rival cities in Africa." No, the poor in the US obviously aren’t as poor as the poor in Africa. But the difference between the poor and the wealthy is as wide. That jives with this OCED report (from AP) that also reports on inequality. This report notes that social mobility is lowest in countries with high inequality such as the United States, United Kingdom, and Italy. Richard Florida has noted that this kind of inequality seems common in US cities where the creative economy is taking off.

The Creative Class blog also notes
Geoffrey Beattie’s article in the Globe and Mail
in which he stresses the importance of government that will encourage
investment that builds rather than the incessant trading mindset that
has dominated recent years. Beattie writes

Good government isn’t big government or no government; it is smart
government that embraces its responsibility to look decades ahead and
build the appropriate policy infrastructures for growth and prosperity.
Our tax, corporate and securities laws need to foster and reward the
builder mentality with incentives and stability.

Now
I am thinking of Obama’s offhand comment about spreading the wealth and
the mileage the McCain campaign has sought to get from it. The US could
use with some wealth redistribution, though we are obviously scared of
the "S" word. It seems to me that long-term investment in building an
economy begins with educating the workforce. Investing in our citizens
well-being, education, and the socio-cultural structures that support
our communities does not sound like socialism to me. It sounds like
recognizing that the long-term strength of our economy rests on this
kind of building.

I do think this relates to some of the work we are doing in professional writing, though obviously our concerns are on a far more local scale. We’ve been meeting en masse with our majors and talking about career potentials and the option of grad school. Who knows what kind of job market they’ll be entering over the next couple of years? Even if there are jobs out there, it’s hard to know how to be prepared and, just as important, how to find a rewarding career path. As my colleague David Franke said the other day, professional writing is an urban degree. It’s not like education, the super popular degree at Cortland. Our students will need to look toward urban spaces to pursue their careers, but they might also want to think about this idea of building.

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