America's growing divide between work and wealth

Protesters have been marching in Kansas City, MO since Tuesday, November 10, 2015 to protest low wages for certain workers.

Story highlights

  • Maureen Conway: American workers are seeing the security of their wages and benefits erode
  • Cities and states are trying new efforts to make sure the link between work and wealth is revived, she says

Maureen Conway is a Vice President of the Aspen Institute and Executive Director of the Institute's Economic Opportunities Program. The opinions expressed in this commentary are hers.

(CNN)The central tenet of the American dream is the idea that if you work hard, you can succeed. Success is usually measured by financial stability, the ability to support a family, own some property perhaps, save for retirement, invest in the future opportunities of your children and maybe afford to take a vacation once in a while.

Maureen Conway profile
Middle-class America thrived for many years because hard work created a degree of wealth that allowed people to achieve these relatively modest goals. But in our new, global economy the link between work and wealth is being severed. Without substantial changes to our social safety net, the continuing rift between work and wealth will create serious risk to our economic and social wellbeing.