Wealth Inequality

At each recession going back to 1974 I have noticed the type of economic changes that occur as an architect. For one, my profession gets hit very hard. The talent pool dries up and there are less experienced architects left. The younger people going into this profession also then do not get to advance as much in their growth. We will need all these people if and when a real catastrophe occurs.

So what does this have to do with wealth inequality? Over my entire career the proportion of client type is changing. Some of it is just the natural growth of my company. But the Residential client is really changing. We used to work on three plus addition remodels per year. The clients were very cost conscious but willing to pay professional fees to get their custom projects and full services. Now that middle class client is being stretched even farther. This limits their ability to add and modernize their homes in final product and professional services.

The expanding code requirements are also a factor in this calculation. Now it’s the upper end of the middle class and the richer crowd that brings us into their projects. The cost consciousness is still very present. Many of these type projects are investment related as opposed to personal.

What I see is the results of the wealth inequity issue. It is the 99% vs. 1 %. What was called income inequality is now truly wealth inequality. From the 1930's to the late 1970's the top 7% of total U.S. household wealth was 7%. In 2012 that figure was 22%. We are heading to the late 1920's. We all know what happened then. The truth is the middle class is being eroded at a very fast pace. I love our country. I know this is not healthy for architects, but more important is our middle class and our democracy with all its freedoms. I want my kids to do well and be able to reach their dreams. A quick look at the economics can really knock the wind out of many people’s dreams.

I have always enjoyed the thought of all the different activities and contacts Thomas Jefferson was involved with. He was an architect also. He was deeply hostile to the accumulation of wealth. "The overgrown wealth of an individual may be deemed dangerous to the State". Since the late 1970s the rules of States have been dismantled that control this economic engine the middle class was created from. Aristocracy is on the rise.

The fix is straight forward. Adjust the taxes in capital income. Bring back the progressive estate and income tax rates that assisted in reducing the concentration of wealth. It is up to you to vote for the re-institution of a balanced taxation system that allows for the greatest ability for a strong independent middle class! Vote!!