The Problem of Increasing Economic Inequality in America: Evaluation of The Works of Joseph E. Stiglitz, Robert Rector, and Rachel Sheffield

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 1512 |

Pages: 3|

8 min read

Published: Sep 1, 2020

Words: 1512|Pages: 3|8 min read

Published: Sep 1, 2020

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. My Position
  3. Opposing Position
  4. Refutation of Opposing Position
  5. Position Summary


Despite the fact that there is an exceptionally long history of concern with economic inequality, interest for this point has increased significantly after decades of stability. Economic inequality is the unequal division of salary and opportunity among various gatherings of society and has been a concern of many nations around the earth and recently has made it harder for some individuals to have opportunities to advance in society.

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Joseph E. Stiglitz, Robert Rector, and Rachel Sheffield provide different explanations on whether or not increasing economic inequality is a serious problem. Stiglitz demonstrates the vast and growing inequality in America and argues that it results from the exploitation of workers and the way capitalism works.

Rector and Sheffield both strongly believe that inequality is not so bad since the poor are rather well-off when we look at all the facts of their living conditions, poverty and consistency of food supply and crowding. In my opinion, both sides of this argument present very interesting points, but Rector and Sheffield have more organized information compared to Stiglitz, so I will evaluate their explanations to find who has the most reasonable ending.

My Position

While most experts seem to accept that economic inequality is a noteworthy issue requiring some type of remediation, some oppose this idea. One of the first points made by Rector and Sheffield, is about how they believe that the poor don’t have much of a struggle since they are rather well-off with their living conditions and food supply from their communities. Overtime the poor have been given opportunities to apply for stabilized amenities for their households. These amenities include color TVs, telephones, and kitchens that are equipped with an oven, stove, and refrigerator.

However, based on the data from the Amenities in Poor Households chart, it indicates that the broad array of modern conveniences in the homes of the poor is the result of decades of steady progress in the living standards of the poor. The chart also displays that not all poor families are able to acquire all the amenities listed. Along with offered housing, there is also poverty and malnutrition. There is little or no evidence of poverty-induced malnutrition in the United States, however, it’s often believed that a lack of financial resources forces poor people to eat low-quality diets that are deficient nutriments and high in fat, but survey data show that nutriment density does not vary by income class.

In the United States, eating healthily costs three times as much as consuming unhealthy food and the price gap is widening, according to a study by Cambridge University. The average increase of healthy foods rose by £1.84 per 1,000 calories over the decade, while unhealthy food rose by 73 pence for the same energy intake. This puts the poor in strict position where they have to think about what they’re buying to maintain a steady income so even if the poor wanted to eat healthier, they don’t have the funds to keep up and instead have to put up with buying unhealthy foods as a means to make their paychecks last till the next one.

Rector and Steffield then state points regarding nutrition and poor children, consistency of food supply, temporary food shortages and homelessness. For example, even if a poor household has an adequate or good overall food supply when measured over a moderate period, it still might need to cut back on meals or go without if food stamps run out at the end of the month.

Opposing Position

Stiglitz strongly believes that inequality is not inevitable. He begins his argument by talking about how a rich country such as America is filled with so many poor people despite the amount of wealth this country has. Inequality in America today is, above all, about the nature of our society, our vision of who we are, and others’ vision of us. He mentions that similar stories could be told about each of the dimensions of America’s outsized inequality, for example, health care.

America is unique among advanced countries in not recognizing access to health care as a basic human right which means that if you are a poor American, your prospects of getting adequate, let alone good, medical care are worse than in other advanced countries. For example, Public hospital healthcare is free to all Australian citizens and permanent residents of Australia.

A combination of Medicare, private health insurance and personal payments covers the cost of treatment as a private patient in a public or private hospital. Due to this fact, it proves how America’s healthcare isn’t as proficient as Australia While American citizens have to worry about paying for healthcare, Australians don’t have to worry. Recent studies have shown that Stiglitz believes that if we provided more opportunity to the poor, including better education and an economic system that ensured access to jobs with decent pay, then perhaps we would not spend so much on prisons but rather give the poor a chance to seize new employment opportunities, in turn making our economy more productive.

On the off chance that the cash finds its way to those on low livelihoods, there will definitely be higher total spending, more occupations and essentially a more grounded economy. Furthermore, if the pay dispersion keeps on being slanted to those on low salaries, there will be a lift in the development capability of the economy. Joblessness would be fundamentally lower and there would be a self-supporting cycle of more grounded movement thus. Many will agree with him that we don’t need to eliminate inequality but much rather moderate it and restore the American Dream.

Refutation of Opposing Position

Stiglitz did have many good points, however, I’m not too sure if I agree with all of his claims. The first issues with Stiglitz’s argument, in my opinion, is when he stated that many children who grow up in poverty never end up living lives outside of poverty. This has been proved by so many famous people such as Jennifer Lopez who grew up in The Bronx in an apartment and is now reportedly worth $300 million, Tom Cruise who grew up near poverty with an abusive father is now reportedly worth $380 million, Justin Bieber who grew up with a single mother living in low-income housing and is now reportedly worth $200 million, and Mariah Carey who grew up in Long Island where her family struggled financially after her parents’ divorce and is now reportedly worth $510 million.

Stiglitz is automatically assuming that since the child is coming from a poor family, they won’t be able to rise from their lifestyle in poverty and create a better lifestyle to live in. Another point I didn’t agree with was when Stiglitz stated that being poor is the same as being in poverty.

In my opinion those who are living in poverty struggle more than poor people do in ways of trying to get out of those lifestyles. To live in poverty is to be profoundly economically disadvantaged. People in that state generally have poor quality and often inadequate food, education, health care, and employment. To be poor is a narrower economic characterization that may be transient. A person who carries heavy student loan debt may be economically poor but have made a strategic decision to get an education that enables him/her to live and work in a 'good' area.

Position Summary

I’m on Restore and Sheffield’s side where we understand poverty in the United States and include facts about the poor in America. The first talking point is about how the typical poor American lives in an air-conditioned house or apartment that is in good repair and has cable TV, a car, multiple color TVs, a DVD player, a VCR, and many other appliances while half of the poor have computers, and one-third have wide-screen plasma TVs. This talking point is just one out of many reasons why I agree that increasing economic inequality is not so much of a problem in the United States and can be fixed if necessary action takes place.

The main reason why no is my position is that I highly agree with Rector and Sheffield’s argument about how inequality is not so bad because the poor are rather well-off in when we look at all the facts. As explained in the main source, ninety-two percent of poor households have a microwave. With a microwave being a main necessity of an American household, families who have this appliance are considered fortunate.

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In addition, forty-three percent of these low income families, also have internet service. With the world being surrounded by technology, having internet service is a privilege. The living conditions of the poor have improved for decades. Most of the poor have consumer items that were significant purchases for the middle class a few decades ago. This is because we have invested trillions of dollars to combat poverty when those living “in poverty” have much more than we assume they do. From these arguments, I highly agree with Rector and Sheffield’s point of view and believe that their explanations have the most reasonable conclusions.

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This essay was reviewed by
Prof. Linda Burke

Cite this Essay

The Problem Of Increasing Economic Inequality In America: Evaluation Of The Works Of Joseph E. Stiglitz, Robert Rector, And Rachel Sheffield. (2020, September 01). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 19, 2024, from
“The Problem Of Increasing Economic Inequality In America: Evaluation Of The Works Of Joseph E. Stiglitz, Robert Rector, And Rachel Sheffield.” GradesFixer, 01 Sept. 2020,
The Problem Of Increasing Economic Inequality In America: Evaluation Of The Works Of Joseph E. Stiglitz, Robert Rector, And Rachel Sheffield. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 19 Apr. 2024].
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