The modern US society is characterized by social inequalities of gender, ethnicity, age, and other characteristics. Economic, spatial, and social types of inequality are interrelated and often reinforce each other, exacerbating inequality in living standards and access to economic, social, and legal institutions. This leads to further disengagement of the American society, as well as to the inequality rooting deeply in it. The main mechanisms of social inequality are the property relations of power (dominance and submission), social division of labor, as well as uncontrolled, spontaneous social differentiation. These mechanisms are mostly associated with the peculiarities of the market economy, the inevitable competition (including the labor market) and unemployment. Social inequality is perceived and experienced as a manifestation of injustice by many people, especially the unemployed people, economic migrants, and the people who find themselves below the poverty line. Social inequality leads to increased social tensions, particularly in the transition period. Therefore, it is crucial for solving the issue of inequality. The common ways that can help to reduce inequality in the United States include creating quality jobs, tax policy as a means of reducing income inequality and as a source of additional funding for social programs, improving public services in health and education, anti-discrimination policy, and the fight against corruption and measures to ensure equality before the law and equal access to the justice system for the entire population.
There are following problems caused by discrimination and inequality: unequal access to education, discrimination in the school, inequality in employment, ownership, and housing, unequal access to social services, etc. Efforts to reduce disparities in living standards in different regions are carried out through interregional fiscal transfers to support regions with low income. The increase in expenditure on social protection and a number of other budgetary expenditures are subjected to the same logic and aims to support populations with low income and other vulnerable groups.
Social policy should be based on the following principles: protection of the standard of living by introducing various forms of compensation for the price increase and indexation; providing assistance to the poorest families; issuance of assistance in case of unemployment; provision of social insurance policy; fixing the minimum wage for workers; the development of education, health protection, environment; and ensuring qualification.
Social inequality deals with the discrimination in the field of opportunities. Individuals from poor families, as well as representatives of ethnic minorities, face more difficulties than the privileged ones. Olinsky (2014) states that low-income children face discrimination early which results in further gaps in the development. Thus, Matthews (2012) argued that the US authorities should focus on the childhood development. In particular, more funds should be invested in early childhood education programs. As a result, such measures can contribute to improving cognitive skills that are crucial for obtaining good-paying, high-skilled job. A proposal of universal access to high-quality education will ensure that every child, regardless of their background, starts on equal conditions which will reduce inequality level in the next American generation.
Social inequality increases the appearance and significance of social hierarchy, class, and status. It causes economic instability, social and health problems. Therefore, to reduce social inequality, it is needed to reduce income stratification. Pickett (2013) stated that it could be done by redistribution of taxes and benefits. Progressive taxation will provide benefits by increasing taxes for people with higher incomes. Secondly, it is important to provide nationalization or subsidies for services and goods, such as food, health, education, and housing. By providing basic goods and services cheaper or even free of charge, the government increases the level of income of the lower strata of the population. Olinsky (2014) suggests that President Barack Obama should address the retirement security and minimum wage to reduce inequality. Raising the minimum wage is crucial for jumpstarting American economy. It is impossible to reduce the gap between rich and poor without creating a competitive market. It is crucial to change the market of rollbacks and corruption to market of competition which will strengthen the struggle against poverty.
Moreover, Moretti (2013) argues that changes in immigration reform could contribute to resolving inequality issue in the United States. In particular, the transition to system that favors immigrants will provide benefits for American workers. This will reduce troubling and growing inequality in the American labor market.
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The formation of a democratic society provides equal opportunities for realization for all people regardless of their sex, age, nationality or social origin. Every person should be treated analogically, unhampered by imitative barriers or preferences, except when some distinctions can be exactly justified. It is unlikely to achieve significant progress in the fight against inequity in the American society without solving the existing problems in the labor market, the implementation of redistributive potential of tax systems, health and education systems, improvement of anti-discrimination legislation and practice, combating corruption and ensuring equality before the law. It is necessary not to fight against poverty in general, but to solve a specific task of creating the conditions that enable equal opportunities for all people. The basic guideline for this task should be social modernization of the society. This is the way to improve the quality of human capital.
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