Documentary displays income inequality

“Inequality for All” shown on campus

Story by Courtney Roszak, Staff Writer

In 2013, Jacob Kornbluth directed a film called “Inequality for All,” which focuses on income inequality in America. The film is presented and narrated by economist, professor and author Robert Reich.

On Tuesday UW-Eau Claire students, faculty and local community members viewed the film in Phillips Science Hall thanks to Donald Mowry, a professor in social work.

“I am part of many mailing lists, one of those being the American Democracy,” Mowry said.

The film was originally supposed to be shown on Thursday followed by a live webcast where Reich would answer questions. However, due to the heavy snowstorm hitting Eau Claire, it was postponed until Tuesday and Eau Claire was unable to participate in the webcast.

 “Inequality for All” focuses on the rise of income inequality and how it can affect the future of people in America. The United States is 64th on the inequality list presented in the film. The city with the greatest inequality in the U.S. is Lake Providence, La.

Throughout the documentary, Reich points out various factors that add up to the ongoing problem with inequality. For example, 34 percent of parts for the iPhone is made in Japan and 17 percent of parts are made in Germany. The U.S. makes 6 percent of the parts that go into making the iPhone. Some, like economic professor Eric Jamelske, wonder how this will affect the future of the U.S. regarding inequality, resources and consumers.

“As resources become more limited and consumers continue, it makes me wonder, ‘where will we be in 30 years?’” Jamelske said during a discussion after the documentary.

It is not just the future in consumerism and resources that have been greatly affected by inequality. In 1978, the top 1 percent of the wealthy were making about $300,000. By 2010 the 1 percent were making about $1,101,089 a year. According to the documentary, 400 people have more wealth than half the U.S. While 42 percent of U.S. kids born into poverty will remain there all their life.

Community member Mark Rank voiced his opinion during the discussion about the effects on inequality both nation and city-wide.

“We can’t afford to not get involved,” Rank said. “Really, it’s a wake up call.”

Closer to campus, inequality has been a major contributor to tuition rise in recent years. It is estimated that by the time a child who is born in 2013 graduates college, they may be paying $422,000 on their education.

Inequality has been decreasing funding for public education. Mowry said the average student will have $28,000 in debt due to student loans when he or she graduates from Eau Claire. While
there is a high job success rate, many students are not meeting jobs that match  what they attended school for and it does not help cover any debt they may have.

Eau Claire sophomore Monica Weltzien voiced her opinion on the matter of her education.

“It makes me think, ‘what the heck am I doing here?’” Weltzien said regarding to the information presented about college education.

Jesse Dixon, professor of multicultural affairs, compared the struggle of improving income inequality in a way others can relate to.

“It’s like roller-skating uphill,” Dixon said.