The Trifecta of Inequality: Income, Wealth, and Opportunity


Leina‘ala Ahu Isa, Ph.D., Trustee, At-LargeWelina me ke aloha.

The “trifecta of inequality” took hold after the Great Recession in 2008. This country must put forward an intrastructure “overhaul,” and redistributive fiscal policies to reverse this trend.

Sharing notes from a 2019 Commonfund (one of OHA’s investments) Conference speaker, Mr. El-Erian, the chief economic advisor at Allianz (the parent company of PIMCO), where he grew its assets as high as $2 trillion. He also worked under President Obama on global development and deputy director of the International Monetary Fund.

El-Erian said that Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) is right about the negative effects of inequality… but wrong when she says a society with billionaires is an “immoral” one. “If you create Facebook in your dorm room, of course, you should be a billionaire! Wealth inequality is a good thing when it “INCENTIVIZES” you to action… to do more, to become better. But I agree with her about how the gap between rich and poor unfairly narrows economic opportunity for many Americans. He continues:

“This country can actually tolerate an inequality of income and wealth… but when it becomes a TRIFECTA OF INCOME, WEALTH, and OPPORTUNITY, that’s the real problem. We are going to risk a major alienation and marginalization of part of our country, which is a huge problem.”

We need “growth that really brings in more segments of society.” US Senator Elizabeth Warren proposed a 2% wealth tax on households that exceed $50 million, which 61% of voters favored, according to a Morning Consultant Poll surveying 1,993 voters in January 2020. Ocasio-Cortez proposed a marginal tax rate of 70% on household income over $10 million. Only 45% of voters supported the proposal versus the 32% of voters who opposed it.

Hawaiʻi’s New Vote by Mail a Success!

The success of Hawaiʻi’s new vote-by-mail system proved that accessibility is a huge factor in participation. When those struggling to make ends meet don’t have to choose between voting and working, or voting and being afraid to venture out of their homes because of the virus, their voices can be heard.

Then we can focus on solving our state’s most pressing needs. It’s been a full seven months that we have been dealing with the impacts of the pandemic. Where is the urgency to build the infrastructure for a sustainable, circular economy?

These unprecedented times offer extraordinary opportunities to grow into our most humane, compassionate, self-reliant, collaborative and creative selves.

We need to build an infrastructure of trusting relationships, mutual care and resource sharing.

Any of us who has worked on having fair and kinder laws enacted knows how long it takes get them accomplished, and how much problems can worsen as the process drags on and on. It’s no longer enough just to be well-intentional, and of serving just a few at the expense of many.

Getting rid of a major barrier to voting by the new VOTE BY MAIL law certainly gives us a voice and a first step in meeting the needs and hopes of our people.

Me ka Mahalo Nui, E Mālama Pono!

A hui hou kākou,
Trustee Leinaʻala Ahu Isa