Wealth Inequality

Jeffrey Barnes, Math, Rocky River HS

Curriculum Unit (pdf)


“We get government aid spend it at they stores, puttin’ they kids through college. We need balance, so we can lease and own Ds in our projects. So I’m askin’ Gs to go in their pockets, the racial economic inequality, let’s try to solve it.” The following lyrics were put forth by the rapper Nas, in the song Nas Album is Done, on DJ Khaleds album Major Key. Working in a school that is predominantly African-American, these lyrics are particularly poignant. Wealth inequality has surpassed being solely defined along racial lines. Economic inequality pervades American society in particular, the world in general. The rich get rich and the poor get poorer is a statement that we often hear. Is there a way to close this ever-increasing gap? How does wealth/income inequality affect the standard of living of those that are affected? How do taxes apply to this situation? How can we use mathematics to address this issue while modeling solutions? All of these are potential questions to be addressed while showing students that mathematics is a tool that when properly used can be used to model and solve problems beyond the use of arithmetic.