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Jelani Harvey Jelani Harvey is a recent graduate of Columbia University who received his degree in American History. After he spent his high school years raising money and awareness for human trafficking in...
Where do young people come down on questions of faith, values, and public life? How do they relate their values to public policy issues including education, economic inequality, and the environment? These questions, critically important for the 2012 election, are at the center of a campus conversation being organized by the Berkley Center and Georgetown University. This blog features an ongoing conversation about these issues between students selected as Millennial Values Fellows through a national competition. You can read and comment on their blogs here.

To learn more about the project, visit the Campus Conversation on Values page.

OTHER POSTS

Millennials on Social Media and Politics

November 15, 2012

Millennials on Social Issues and Diversity

November 12, 2012

Hira Baig (Rice) on Why the Presidential Election Matters to Millennials

November 7, 2012

Millennials on Religion and Interfaith Work

November 7, 2012

Ryan Price (Drake) on E Pluribus Duo

November 6, 2012

Mohammad Usman (DePauw) on Unpredictable Millennials

November 5, 2012

Millennials on Affirmative Action Policy

November 3, 2012

Seth Warner (Vassar) on What Happens as the "God Gap" Widens

November 2, 2012

Josina De Raadt (Dordt) on How Social Media Is Like Wii Bowling

October 31, 2012

Zachary Yentzer (Arizona State) on the Next Greatest Generation

October 29, 2012

Brice Ezell (George Fox) on Post-Racial America? Race, Millennials, and the 2012 Election

October 25, 2012

Tyler Bishop (Vanderbilt) on a Future of Hashtags #whatitmeansforus

October 23, 2012

Brice Ezell (George Fox) on How the People Can Heal a “Divided,” Partisan Nation

October 4, 2012

Hira Baig (Rice) on Religion and American Democracy

October 4, 2012

Tyler Bishop (Vanderbilt) on How It’s All About Relatability: Voter Turnout

October 3, 2012

Josina De Raadt (Dordt) on Mistaking Politics for a Hollywood Blockbuster

October 2, 2012

Mohammad Usman (DePauw) on the Internet Solution

October 1, 2012


>> more

Jelani Harvey (Columbia) on Economic Inequality

Economicinquality

March 16, 2012

In the Declaration of Independence, our Founding Fathers stated all men have rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” It is then rather shameful, that in America, there are 46.2 million people living in poverty according to the most recent census. Millions of Americans live on safety nets, meaning they are restricted from living their lives to their fullest potential. As a result of this disparity, thousands have begun to protest, to riot, and to outright disobey our political institutions.
Although the government cannot assuage every problem, it is well known that crime is highly correlated with inequality. Those who are monetarily disadvantaged from conception often feel disenfranchised, and as a result turn to crime when their frustrations go unheeded. The American ideal of “one voice, one vote,” goes out the window, only to be replaced by jaded memories of economic equality. Last year, this fact was placed on full display when the “Occupy Wall Street” movement engulfed Americans who watched buildings burn, tear gas terrorize, and limbs being torn into submission. As concerned citizens, we must ask ourselves if this form of activism is sustainable. Will the wealth gap between the very rich and the very poor hold firm as a new wave of federal cuts take shape with a rising tide of American poverty? The answer is an emphatic “No!” Politicians must realize that if we stay on our current path, the level of rioting plaguing nations such as Greece and Spain will occur in America as well.

By allowing the wealth gap to widen, we say to our poorest and most vulnerable citizens, “Shame on you for being the victim of circumstance,” and we, in fact, stray far from basic ideals of freedom and self-autonomy. Jean-Jacques Rousseau stated in his Basic Political Writings that inequality began when primitive man said, “This is mine.” More than 250 years after Rousseau’s masterpiece, we can all see Rousseau’s theory at work. The wealthy seek to keep, while the poor wish to gain. Although arguments concerning wealth transfers have become more sophisticated in the tradeoffs between economic growth and fairness, the riots and burning buildings will soon transform themselves into anarchy beyond repair. If we wish to stop this from occurring, everyone in our democracy needs to be pulled up by their “bootstraps,” as some would say, instead of the privileged and select few.