Equal, Yet Separate

The U.S. Declaration of Independence declares that all men are created equal and endowed with certain unalienable rights — such as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. However, new research from Stanford indicates the pursuit of happiness is increasingly aligned with affordability. The study asserts that America’s cities are becoming more divided into two distinct groups, with college-educated workers clustered in more desirable locales that less-educated people cannot afford.

The paper reports that the economic divide between high-skill workers and those without a college education increased by 67 percent from 1980 to 2000. As a result, American cities that feature higher paying jobs also have higher housing expenses — and a better quality of life. The study suggests that cities with a higher cost of living offer residents who can afford to live there more amenities for quality living, such as entertainment, educational opportunities, better air quality and lower crime rates.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Rebecca Diamond: What is Happening to America’s Cities?” at Stanford Business, July 8, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Has Income Inequality Lessened Under Obama?” at msnbc.com, July 24, 2014.]

While the 14th Amendment of the Constitution guarantees protection under the law to all citizens, for more than 50 years a doctrine citing “separate but equal” policy allowed the government to permit services, facilities, public accommodations, housing, medical care, education, employment and transportation to be separated along racial lines as long as the quality of each group’s public facilities was equal. That doctrine was overturned by a series of Supreme Court decisions starting in 1954.

[CLICK HERE to read an explanation of “Separate but Equal,” at Boundless.com, accessed Aug. 15, 2014.]

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, whose ruling supposedly ended the “separate but equal” system of societal segregation. Debates still continue as to whether desegregation truly exists in all areas of the country, but that issue could merge with the recent attention to today’s updated form of income inequality, economic mobility and even geographic segregation.

Research from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) further concludes that, while inequality may be ethically undesirable, it may also cause low and unsustainable economic growth.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “K-12 Education: Still Separate, Still Unequal,” at Education Week, May 13, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the report, “Redistribution, Inequality, and Growth,” at IMF, Feb. 2014.]

A recent article in TIME magazine reported one top economic advisor’s solution to “fix” income inequality as it relates to saving for retirement. Former White House economic adviser for the Clinton and Obama administrations, Gene Sperling, proposed reducing the 401(k) tax advantages that offer a greater benefit to high income earners while creating a government-funded universal 401(k) plan that would benefit lower-income workers by incorporating low fees, safety, a generous match and automatic enrollment.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “How to Fix the 401(k) and Income Inequality in One Fell Swoop,” at Time, July 23, 2014.]

As we make decisions regarding our retirement income strategy, it’s important to consider ways we can help forge a better path not just for ourselves but for our children, grandchildren and our legacy. Financial issues such as student loan debt, scarcity of jobs and lack of opportunities all have an impact on long-term success.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Inequality’s Not All Equal,” at U.S. News and World Report, July 24, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Why Voters Aren’t Angrier About Economic Inequality,” at The New York Times, July 24, 2014.]

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