How Income Inequality Transformed Into One of America’s Latest Political Refutes


Princess Faye Tabios, Features Editor '24

Across the U.S., there’s a term known as “redlining,” or preventing the opposite party from moving forward. It’s a type of decision made by loan lenders who decide which borrowers of their money will be accepted, and which borrowers will be declined. It is more often than not that the borrowers who are not accepted by their lenders are those with a lower credit score, or inability to pay their loans back.

“If everyone were to be in an equal balance socially and economically,” states Jasmine Flores, an 11th grader at Middle College High School, San Pablo, California, “That balance that capitalism fights so hard to protect would simply fall apart.” 

To ensure more Americans have the opportunity to pay back their debt, improve their credit score, and get accepted by these lenders, President Joe Biden released an application for student loan forgiveness on October 17, 2022, and made an appearance at Delaware State University four days later with student Zachary Bernard. For the most part, the aim of his plan was to target graduating students in debt.


Photo of Joe Biden from the White House website.

“How much are the monthly bills, and how do you have to pay for those necessities? How much do you have? Is there enough just for a little breathing room, as my dad would say, left over after the end of the month?” President Biden rhetorically asks his audience at Delaware State. He stated that no part of the relief would go to the top five percent in annual income.

Loans for students and families making less than $125,000 a year are allowed $10,000 or more in relief so long applicants sign up on the Federal Student Aid website before the end of 2023. About 400 billion dollars in tax money was estimated by the United States Congressional Budget Office on September 26, 2022, before Federal Aid published the application online, dividing state offices of education and legislation across the country. 

Court Order Blocks Student Relief

The application reached a halt when a court order was issued at the beginning of October by 6 out of the 50 states; Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, and South Carolina, stating “The burden of the economic loss and price increases will hit those who can least afford it—the working class and the poor.” When the documents were passed on to the Eastern District Court Judge, Henry Edward Autrey on September 29, 2022, their complaints were dismissed by memorandum. 


Memorandum submitted by Court Judge Henry Autrey.

In Autrey’s stead, further collaboration between the six states and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, and on October 24, 2022, an emergency motion protocol erupted. Discharging student loan debt was immediately shut down moments afterward, along with the site entirely within weeks.

“Honestly, it seems pretty unreasonable that they decided to cancel the student loan debt relief considering so many people before and currently are getting loans forgiven,” states Vallejo High School 11th grader, Aniyah Martin, “and richer people have seemingly endless tax cuts.”

So What Problem Was Student Loan Forgiveness Meant to Solve?

Joe Biden’s plan was for more students to have more breathing room – to focus on bills and buying a house with a mortgage than the education needed to pay for each utility. In other words, graduating students could become flexible with their income since their incomes are not immediately as stable as the top 5 percent or the top 10 percent further on. Graduating students would decrease wage gaps through the debt-free completion of their education.

“I’d say it’s necessary for those graduating soon to be able to live their lives without the dread of debt,” states Flores.

Fumi Matsuoka, a junior student at Vanden High School and exchange student from Ena High School states, “Where I am from, in Japan, we have non-regular employees who are forced to work overtime for salaries lower than regular employees.” 

An article translated by the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre wrote that interns admitted into “multiple garment companies,” or clothing companies in eastern Hiroshima, Japan, were caught siphoning money earned by three Vietnamese employees. 

The three were then pushed to work over 150 hours more than the hours they applied for when the law states 1.25 times hourly wage should be paid after working at least 45 hours in overtime per month. But the companies’ additional hours were rarely paid for and Matsuoka says these happenings are common for young employees across the country.

In the United States the minimum number of hours for overtime pay is 40 hours. But with the national nurse shortages going on nationwide, there are employees who opt for more and still get paid less since low-funded nursing facilities tending to the elderly. The gap between low-income and high-income is still high.