Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Who cares about the economy? You

By John D. Sutter, CNN
updated 8:26 AM EDT, Thu June 13, 2013
<a href='http://www.cnn.com/changethelist'>Vote on which of these stories you like best</a> and CNN will send columnist John D. Sutter to the field to report on the top five as part of his new <a href='http://www.cnn.com/changethelist'>Change the List project</a>, which pushes for progress in places that need it most. Winning so far? <strong>Widest rich-poor gap:</strong> What's happening to America's middle class? One state may yield answers. <a href='http://www.cnn.com/changethelist'>Vote here.</a> Vote on which of these stories you like best and CNN will send columnist John D. Sutter to the field to report on the top five as part of his new Change the List project, which pushes for progress in places that need it most. Winning so far? Widest rich-poor gap: What's happening to America's middle class? One state may yield answers. Vote here.
HIDE CAPTION
Change the List: What should we cover?
Change the List: What should we cover?
Change the List: What should we cover?
Change the List: What should we cover?
Change the List: What should we cover?
Change the List: What should we cover?
Change the List: What should we cover?
Change the List: What should we cover?
Change the List: What should we cover?
Change the List: What should we cover?
Change the List: What should we cover?
Change the List: What should we cover?
Change the List: What should we cover?
Change the List: What should we cover?
Change the List: What should we cover?
Change the List: What should we cover?
Change the List: What should we cover?
Change the List: What should we cover?
Change the List: What should we cover?
Change the List: What should we cover?
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Vote on the stories you find most important and John Sutter will cover them
  • The vote is taking place as part of Sutter's new Change the List project
  • Sutter: Income inequality currently is leading the list of 20 topics
  • That could change, however; voting continues until Monday

Editor's note: John D. Sutter is a columnist for CNN Opinion. VOTE on what he will cover as part of the Change the List project. The ballot works best on desktop computers and tablets. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+. E-mail him: ctl@cnn.com.

(CNN) -- When I asked CNN's readers and viewers to pick the five social-justice topics I'll cover for the rest of the year, I never expected so many of you to select the one with the Econ 101 title: "Widest rich-poor gap." I figured most of the country, or the world, would be sick of reading about the recession and bankers and bailouts. As a person with a job, it would be easy for me to say that's a 2008 story. Time to move on.

But that's why I trust the wisdom of the crowd: You tell me when I'm wrong. America's widening gap between the rich and poor -- and this country's fast-disappearing sense of security and progress and economic stability -- is so far the top pick among the 20 subjects I presented as part of a new project called Change the List.

That tells me that for many of you, it is the most pressing justice issue of our time. I wouldn't have seen that on my own, and I'm glad you did. You encouraged me to look deeper into the issue, and I'm excited that we might be delving into this story together.

John D. Sutter
John D. Sutter

The vote is part of a new CNN Opinion project that focuses on bringing attention to overlooked places and issues. I'm asking you to pick stories you find most compelling or important from a list of 20 -- and I'll report on the five winners. Voting closes at 2:00 p.m. ET on Monday, so there is still plenty of time for you to influence the outcome.

Here are the top five issues as of noon on Wednesday:

1. Rich-poor gap

2. Where rape is common

3. Poorest kids

4. Conflict is never-ending

5. America's most endangered river

About 23,000 ballots have been submitted so far, and only 916 votes separate the topics in fourth and seventh places, as of this writing. That's close. (While this story was being completed, "illegal animal trade" jumped into fifth place, for instance).

When I noticed rich-poor gap was such a crowd favorite, I was a little disappointed, to be honest. How could I stop an economy story from being dull and gray? But last night I started doing some research and started to see what many of you had already noticed: that this is a broadly important and interesting topic -- an underreported story, despite the never-ending flood of financial news headlines. (Friends at sites like CNNMoney and NPR's Planet Money have been doing a stellar job of covering the crisis; but does anyone want to read another jobs-report story? And just forget about the Dow.)

Beneath all the spreadsheets and wonkery, this seems to be a story about fairness and people. Is it one about rich folks who caused the recession and got off clean? About poor folks bearing the brunt of the recession? About a return to free market ideals? They're fascinating issues, and I'm undecided on them at this point.

Last night, I watched the documentary "Park Avenue," which focuses on the street in New York that's home to a building it says has more billionaires than any other -- and also a section of the Bronx with a high rate of infant mortality. The stats presented in the documentary are staggering: 1 in 7 Americans is on food stamps; a college degree is needed to compete, but the cost of college has soared since the 1980s; 400 of the richest people in the United States control as much wealth as the bottom 50% of Americans.

I'm glad it's a topic you highlighted for me.

CNN should continue to cover the war in Syria, whether or not you would vote for that. Same goes for this NSA madness. But with Change the List, I'm trusting you to choose. You deserve to have a say in what I cover -- and in what CNN covers. Not because this is a popularity contest, but because I firmly believe that stories are more meaningful for people when they're part of them. No one wants be on the wrong end of a bullhorn.

I'm excited to explore these topics -- any of these topics -- together.

That's journalism in the public interest.

So please vote. Think about which stories are most important, which could have the most impact and which you're willing to be a part of. Encourage others to do the same. And if you've got a few extra Econ books sitting around, send 'em my way.

Vote here: http://cnn.com/changethelist.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The views expressed in this column are solely those of John D. Sutter.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 12:11 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
Leon Aron says the U.S. and Europe can help get Russia out of Ukraine by helping Ukraine win its just war, sharing defense technologies and intelligence
updated 1:24 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
Timothy Stanley the report on widespread child abuse in a British town reveals an institutional betrayal by police, social services and politicians. Negligent officials must face justice
updated 9:06 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
Peter Bergen and David Sterman say a new video of an American suicide bomber shows how Turkey's militant networks are key to jihadists' movement into Syria and Iraq. Turkey must stem the flow
updated 11:16 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Whitney Barkley says many for-profit colleges deceive students, charge exorbitant tuitions and make false promises
updated 10:34 AM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
Mark O'Mara says the time has come to decide whether we really want police empowered to shoot those they believe are 'fleeing felons'
updated 10:32 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Bill Frelick says a tool of rights workers is 'naming and shaming,' ensuring accountability for human rights crimes in conflicts. But what if wrongdoers know no shame?
updated 10:43 PM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Jay Parini says, no, a little girl shouldn't fire an Uzi, but none of should have easy access to guns: The Second Amendment was not written to give us such a 'right,' no matter what the NRA says
updated 1:22 PM EDT, Sat August 30, 2014
Terra Ziporyn Snider says many adolescents suffer chronic sleep deprivation, which can indeed lead to safety problems. Would starting school an hour later be so wrong?
updated 9:30 AM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
Peggy Drexler says after all the celebrity divorces, it's tempting to ask the question. But there are still considerable benefits to getting hitched
updated 2:49 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
The death of Douglas McAuthur McCain, the first American killed fighting for ISIS, highlights the pull of Syria's war for Western jihadists, writes Peter Bergen.
updated 6:42 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Former ambassador to Syria Robert Ford says the West should be helping moderates in the Syrian armed opposition end the al-Assad regime and form a government to focus on driving ISIS out
updated 9:21 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says a great country does not deport thousands of vulnerable, unaccompanied minors who fled in fear for their lives
updated 9:19 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Robert McIntyre says Congress is the culprit for letting Burger King pay lower taxes after merging with Tim Hortons.
updated 7:35 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Wesley Clark says the U.S. can offer support to its Islamic friends in the region most threatened by ISIS, but it can't fight their war
updated 7:26 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Jeff Yang says the tech sector's diversity numbers are embarrassing and the big players need to do more.
updated 4:53 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
America's painful struggle with racism has often brought great satisfaction to the country's rivals, critics, and foes. The killing of Michael Brown and its tumultuous aftermath has been a bonanza.
updated 4:19 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Ed Bark says in this Emmy year, broadcasters CBS, ABC and PBS can all say they matched or exceeded HBO. These days that's no small feat
updated 3:19 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Rick Martin says the death of Robin Williams brought back memories of his own battle facing down depression as a young man
updated 11:58 AM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
David Perry asks: What's the best way for police officers to handle people with psychiatric disabilities?
updated 3:50 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Julian Zelizer says it's not crazy to think Mitt Romney would be able to end up at the top of the GOP ticket in 2016
updated 4:52 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Roxanne Jones and her girlfriends would cheer from the sidelines for the boys playing Little League. But they really wanted to play. Now Mo'ne Davis shows the world that girls really can throw.
updated 12:29 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider say a YouTube video apparently posted by ISIS seems to show that the group has a surveillance drone, highlighting a new reality: Terrorist groups have technology once only used by states
updated 5:04 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Kimberly Norwood is a black mom who lives in an affluent neighborhood not far from Ferguson, but she has the same fears for her children as people in that troubled town do
updated 5:45 PM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
It apparently has worked for France, say Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider, but carries uncomfortable risks. When it comes to kidnappings, nations face grim options.
updated 1:27 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
John Bare says the Ice Bucket Challenge signals a new kind of activism and peer-to-peer fund-raising.
updated 8:31 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
James Dawes says calling ISIS evil over and over again could very well make it harder to stop them.
updated 9:05 PM EDT, Sat August 23, 2014
As the inquiry into the shooting of Michael Brown continues, critics question the prosecutor's impartiality.
updated 6:47 PM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
Newt Gingrich says it's troubling that a vicious group like ISIS can recruit so many young men from Britain.
updated 10:50 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
David Weinberger says Twitter and other social networks have been vested with a responsibility, and a trust, they did not ask for.
updated 7:03 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
John Inazu says the slogan "We are Ferguson" is meant to express empathy and solidarity. It's not true: Not all of us live in those circumstances. But we all made them.
updated 8:23 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling says he learned that the territory ISIS wants to control is amazingly complex.
updated 3:51 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Cerue Garlo says Liberia is desperate for help amid a Ebola outbreak that has touched every aspect of life.
updated 1:42 PM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Eric Liu says Republicans who want to restrict voting may win now, but the party will suffer in the long term.
updated 11:38 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Jay Parini: Jesus, Pope and now researchers agree: Wealth decreases our ability to sympathize with the poor.
updated 8:00 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Judy Melinek offers a medical examiner's perspective on what happens when police kill people like Michael Brown.
updated 6:03 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
It used to be billy clubs, fire hoses and snarling German shepherds. Now it's armored personnel carriers and flash-bang grenades, writes Kara Dansky.
updated 1:27 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Maria Haberfeld: People who are unfamiliar with police work can reasonably ask, why was an unarmed man shot so many times, and why was deadly force used at all?
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT