City Leaders Grapple with Wealth Disparities

Wealth disparities disproportionately impact certain cities, states, and municipalities.  At some of these locations, municipal leadership are working hard to think about how to address these disparities.

Some business leaders are taking it upon themselves to do something about the disparities.

Because the net worth disparities are so large in the United States, Tunde Wey experimented with an economic model of charging people in his New Orleans ‘pop up’ restaurant based upon measurable ‘qualitative and quantitative’ factors: he considered their ethnicity and the net worth differential that exists by race in the United States.

Notably, while some were not willing to pay more, Tunde Wey found that most people were actually willing to pay more.

Similarly, some city leaders are allegedly experimenting with creative taxation schemes to address wealth disparities.

Are ‘most’ business leaders willing to pay more to the government based upon the net worth of their ethnic group?

The city of Seat Pleasant, Maryland executive branch leadership have recently charged certain businesses with significantly higher property taxes.

In the lawsuit from these local businesses against the city, there are reportedly questions of discrimination by race and religion.

Unlike Tunde Wey’s social experiment, apparently in Seat Pleasant, Maryland, not only are these local business leaders unwilling to pay the government more, but they have been willing to file lawsuits in efforts to protect their hard-earned gains.

Indeed, there will be two responses to wealth disparities.

1 – I’m willing to pay / give more, because I have more.

or 2 – Paying more will destroy my economic profile, and put me at a disadvantage.

Others have similarly laid claims to this economic disadvantage, despite conflicts of how ‘economic disadvantage’ is defined in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR 124.104).

When Having 68 Times More Wealth Becomes ‘Disadvantaged’

Mayor Eugene Grant in Seat Pleasant likely has good intentions, based upon sound policy which economists have discussed and described for many years.

But Mayor Grant will have to determine a better way to reach his goals.

In the history of America, shifts in tax policy have had little positive effect on encouraging economically privileged people, to invest into economically disadvantaged people. To the contrary, it might be suggested that because people broadly have a perspective that economic empowerment of disenfranchised people is the government’s responsibility, that tax policy actually discourages people from making additional investments as they are necessary.

In the mindset of most Americans, the meaning and burden of civic duty and ‘taking care of neighbors’ has been shifted on to the government. By offloading this ‘burden’ to someone else or something else, most people unconsciously absolve themselves of any debt to society.

Most of our taxes go to the Federal government. Most of the Federal government’s budget is paid to top earning healthcare providers, through the HHS CMS $1 trillion budget. The next biggest line item is for fighting off our enemies, through DoD’s $600 billion budget.

For any number of reasons, certain groups of Americans have historically been challenged and remain challenged in their ability to access economic opportunity from within these sectors.

Opposed to using tax policy to encourage re-investment, ambitious Mayors might choose to leverage history. Study when philanthropy peaked and what were the causes of peak philanthropy, in this country.  We review this with members.

“Peak Philanthropy” and Other Contributors to the Great Migration

Most business leaders have made tremendous sacrifices and investments to achieve their lofty economic status. That sacrifice must be respected, otherwise it presents a disincentive to make any capital investments. However, especially in areas at higher risk of extreme wealth disparities, this makes the work of city leaders even that much more challenging.

How to approach people who have no intentions or interests in eliminating wealth disparities?  Or, conversely, is this (ie, wealth concentration) what it means to be an American?

We are likely only at the beginning of a very long tussle.

Author: pH14 Plan Staff

pH14 Plan is an economic development model for all U.S. households' participation. You can support this research by subscribing for more access, or contact us to make a gift.

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