Well, just the blockbuster Robert Reich movie about the phenomenon on rampant income inequality in America. The phenomenon itself has been here for some time now, says Danielle Dirroco, the executive director of URI’s grad school labor union, host of the tonight’s event.
“Wealth inequality is the issue of our time, and we know this all too well here at URI,” she said. “As tuition creeps higher and higher, the opportunity for Rhode Islanders to gain access to a higher education is compromised and our capacity to creatively address our economic woes is undermined. To make any positive change, we have to begin by educating ourselves. Graduate Assistants United is thrilled to put the University of Rhode Island on the map for this nationwide campus event.”
The event starts at 6pm and there will be a special live webcast with Reich in which we can ask him a bunch of Rhode Island-specific questions. Here’s the Facebook event and below is the full press release from the URI Grad School Union:
Graduate Assistants United, URI’s Graduate Employee Labor Union, will be providing its community with the opportunity to view and discuss this award-winning documentary about income inequality in our nation and the way it has shaped our economy and democracy. This event is held in conjunction with a national campus-based event that will include over 150 universities across the country. The University of Rhode Island will be the only university participating in this exciting event in state of Rhode Island.
Co-Sponsors include the URI Graduate Student Association, NewportFILM, the URI Department of Campus Equity and Diversity and SE Greenhouse. Refreshments generously provided by Starbucks Coffee Company.
The event will be held at the College of Biotechnology and Life Sciences Ryan Family Auditorium (CBLS 100). RSVP to Graduate Assistants United: email@example.com.
The American economy is in crisis. Enter Robert Reich: Secretary of Labor under Clinton, revered professor, charismatic pundit and author of thirteen books. “Bob” as he’s referred to in the film, is our hero and guide, shining a light on the urgency of this issue. Economic imbalances are now at near historically unprecedented levels. In fact, the two years of widest economic inequality of the last century were 1928 and 2007 – the two years just before the greatest economic crashes of modern times. What is the link between high inequality and economic crashes? What happened to the Middle Class?
As Americans, we’ve been taught that there is a basic bargain at the heart of our society: work hard, play by the rules and you can make a better life for yourself. But over the last 35 years, this bargain has been broken. Middle class incomes have stagnated or dropped over the same period during which the American economy has more than doubled. So where did all that money go? The facts are clear – it went to the top earners. In 1970 the top 1% of earners took home 9% of the nation’s income. Today they take in approximately 23%. The top 1% holds more than 35% of the nation’s overall wealth, while the bottom 50% controls a meager 2.5%. The last time wealth was this concentrated was in 1928, on the eve of the Great Depression.
What’s the big deal, you may ask? Didn’t the wealthy earn it? INEQUALITY FOR ALL is happy to acknowledge that. There is no vilifying of the rich here. The problem is that wide income divisions threaten the health of both our economy and our democracy.
When middle class consumers have to tighten their belts, the whole economy suffers. We saw this in the years before the Great Depression just as we see it today. The middle class represents 70% of spending and is the great stabilizer of our economy. No increase in spending by the rich can make up for it.
This is the moment in history in which we find ourselves: unprecedented income divisions, a wildly fluctuating and unstable economy, and average Americans increasingly frustrated and disillusioned. The debate about income inequality has become part of the national discussion, and this is a good thing. INEQUALITY FOR ALL connects the dots for viewers, showing why dealing with the widening gap between the rich and everyone else isn’t just about moral fairness.
The issues addressed in this film are arguably the most pressing issue of our times. The film alternates between intimate, approachable sequences and intellectually rigorous arguments helping people with no economic background or education better understand the issues at stake. INEQUALITY FOR ALL allows viewers to start with little or no understanding of what it means for the U.S. to be economically imbalanced, and walk away with a comprehensive and significantly deeper sense of the issue and what can be done about it.
For more information about INEQUALITY FOR ALL and to view the trailer, please visit InequalityForAll.com
This event is free to the public. Please RSVP via email to Graduate Assistants United at firstname.lastname@example.org