Income Inequality in Anderson County by Eric Keller
I study market income inequality in America (market income = pre-tax/pre-redistribution total income). Basically, income inequality in both the U.S. and in Tennessee follows the same historical pattern. It was very high in the early twentieth century, but fell dramatically with the Great Depression and World War II. Importantly, it stayed low after the war and up to the late 1970s (a period called the Great Compression since inequality was so much lower). It began to rise again after 1980 and never stopped. There were a couple of stutter steps with the dot.com bubble bursting and the Great Recession, but market income inequality quickly rose again after both events. The graph tells the story,
Why on earth does this matter in Anderson County, Tennessee? Well, for a number of reasons. One reaction to this giant leap of income for the very wealthy and the stagnate income of median household was the 2010 Tea Party. Not quite knowing what hit them in 2009, angry voters felt Washington ignored their real pain and created anti-establishment groups. Co-opted by the Republican Party, people like Chuck Fleischmann and Terry Frank were elected to office on a platform of no-taxes and "government in a bathtub". When life did not get any better in the county, in fact, declined since that platform really hurts the median household and enriches the very wealthy; voters again rebelled and put a Trump into the presidency. And here we are.
Market income inequality is very real. It hurts most of us. To stop it, sensible government programs and policies need enacted. The Republican platform does not do that. Democratic ideas on public education, healthcare, and true support for the median household will do that. It really is very simple. Elect Democrats.