08/25/2011 - As the nation honors the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. with a stirring new memorial on the National Mall, let’s not obscure one of his most important messages in a fog of sentiment. Justice, he told us, is not just a legal or moral question but a matter of economics as well.
In this sense, we’re not advancing toward the fulfillment of King’s dream. We’re heading in the opposite direction.
Look beyond the recession. Between the end of World War II and the end of the Vietnam War, the typical income for an American household roughly doubled (in inflation-adjusted dollars). Since then, the Economist magazine noted last year, income for a typical household rose by just 22 percent — and even this modest increase was due to the fact that women entered the workforce in large numbers. The Economic Mobility Project found that if you look just at men in their 30s, they earned 12 percent less in 2004 (again, inflation-adjusted) than their fathers did at a similar age.
Read the column A Dream Still Out of Reach in its entirety on the Washington Post Web site.