Elizabeth Warren: The Steps We Should Be Taking Towards Income Equality

What do you think are the real reasons that no Wall Street executives have been prosecuted for fraud as a result of the 2008 financial crisis? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Senator for Massachusetts, on Quora.

Shake loose the grip that the rich and powerful have over our government. Middle class income stagnation wasn't caused by some unstoppable force of nature, like gravity. It was caused by changes in government that favored those who could hire armies of lobbyists and lawyers, and that left everyone else behind. Now, instead of an economy that works well for everyone, America has an economy that works well for only about 10% of our people.

So how can we level the playing field?

  • Close corporate tax loopholes so we have the money to invest in colleges, in building a 21st century infrastructure and in medical and scientific research - the things that help us build a future for all of our kids.
  • Raise wages - starting by raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
  • Require equal pay for equal work (amazing that this is still an issue!).
  • Protect workers' right to organize because unions help increase wages for all workers, union or not.
  • Adopt paid family and medical leave and paid sick days, so that taking a little time off work doesn't mean financial ruin.
  • Ensure fair and predictable work scheduling (try planning a budget, or planning for child care, if you don't know when/if you're working next week).
  • Enforce labor laws on the books - two-thirds of low-wage workers experience wage violations (theft is theft, and stealing from the working poor is despicable).
  • Fix outdated and broken overtime rules so more Americans are eligible for overtime. Companies shouldn't be able to make a $28,000-a-year worker an "assistant manager" just to escape paying overtime.
  • Protect and expand Social Security, so after a lifetime of work, people can retire with dignity.

One last thing: Before anyone does the oh-this-is-just-fantasy-dance, please look up the polling. Most of America - Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Libertarians, Contrarians, Vegetarians - support nearly all of these proposals by about two-to-one. Our problem isn't that we don't know what we need to fix. Our problem is that the US Congress won't pass these fixes.

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