Rust Belt Industry May Decline, but Rev. John Thomas Rejects Inevitability of Widening Inequality

In this blog I recently reflected on two important pieces recently published about growing inequality in America and the resulting opportunity gap in public education.

American Dream—American Delusion was my commentary on a column written by the sociologist Robert Putnam about the collapse of manufacturing and also collapse of community in the industrial Northeast.

Public Schools: The Victims, Not the Cause, of Massive Inequality commented on economist Joseph Stiglitz’s powerful column about inequality in the cities of America’s Rust Belt.

There are moral implications as our society watches but fails to see the growing economic bifurcation of the communities where we live and work.  This morning the Rev. John Thomas, former General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ and now a professor at Chicago Theological Seminary, reflects on what the Putnam and Stiglitz pieces say about our society and its values.

In A Sense of the “We” Thomas explores the meaning of our radically shriveling sense of community.

“Those good manufacturing jobs are not coming back.  But the current patterns of urban abandonment are not inevitable.  Public policies can either accelerate “self-reinforcing inequality,” or seek to reverse it.  Investments can be made in quality urban public education rather than a relentless pattern of school closings, increased class sizes, and the thrall of charter privatization.  Minimum wages can be increased toward living wages for people working in the ‘new’ economy of restaurant and retail stores.  The safety net can be strengthened.”

I encourage you to read Rev. Thomas’s profound article.

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