Beginning my (small) role in working for greater economic equality

UFE Responsible Wealth Logo

As I get off the bus that takes me to my internship, and walk into the heart of Boston’s Financial District, I think about the mission of Responsible Wealth, the project of United for a Fair Economy that I am interning for this summer, which seeks to create a more progressive tax system and greater corporate accountability. The large scale changes this organization seeks would greatly impact many of the large corporations represented in the District, such as Fidelity Investments. What I find most interesting about Responsible Wealth is that instead of fighting for change from the outside of these corporations or circles of wealthy people, the organization has created a network of hundreds of the richest people in the country who seek to further their mission. As the organization puts it, Responsible Wealth is “a network of business leaders, investors, and inheritors in the richest five percent who advocate for fair taxes and corporate accountability.” This network works toward the larger goal of United for a Fair Economy, to reverse the growing wealth inequality in this nation.

I discovered and applied for this internship through Hiatt’s B.hired job search site, and after a Skype interview with my two current supervisors which I did while studying abroad in Chile, I was offered the job. On my first day I was given a large binder full of training guides as well as information about the non profit, which included a large poster containing a quote from Louis Brandeis: “We can have concentrated wealth in the hands of a few or we can have democracy, but we can’t have both”. This led me to more deeply consider why I had been given the Louis D. Brandeis Legacy Fund for Social Justice WOW for this internship, and how my experience at this organization could be tied back to my studies at Brandeis. As of now I am not sure exactly what I want to do after graduation (less than a year away!), but I do know I want it to be social justice oriented. I believe that this internship can help me understand how to use the knowledge I have gained from my majors in International and Global studies (IGS) and Health: Science, Society, and Policy (HSSP) as well as my minor in Economics to work for social justice, locally and globally. Through this internship I hope to gain a greater understanding of various aspects of inequality, including racial, gender, and economic inequality, and how to address them.

View from the front door of the United for a Fair Economy office.
View from the front door of the United for a Fair Economy office.

My first week at Responsible Wealth consisted largely of becoming oriented to the organization and its many projects, the layout of the office, and my duties as an intern. One fascinating aspect of the office is its small library of books covering many topics related to the organization’s mission. Within this library, I am especially interested in reading a book that one of my supervisors co-authored, titled The Self Made Myth: and the truth about how government helps individuals and businesses succeed. This, along with many other sources of information I have come across since beginning my internship, touch upon many current debates in the US political sphere, such as: Who built it? and more broadly, What is the role of government? It is a nice change to be surrounded by current events, as opposed to theory, which is what is usually more focused on within the classroom.

As an intern I will be involved in research and reaching out to members of Responsible Wealth, among other things. Within this realm, I have already begun to research which organizations in the US are addressing immigration reform, promoting the living wage, and preserving social security, as well as how they are addressing these issues so that Responsible Wealth can determine which organizations to reach out to and partner with when confronting these issues. I have also helped mail out the monthly Responsible Wealth Newsletter (hard to be an intern without being assigned a task like this). While I’m sure there will be a few tedious tasks such as mailings throughout my experience as an intern at Responsible Wealth, I am very excited to be a part of the organization and believe I am going to gain a lot of information and experience applicable to my future career, and be able to think more critically about topics such as social justice and economic inequality.

Here are some of the interesting articles and videos I have come across on immigration reform, the living wage, and social security.

Image Citation: United for a Fair Economy and Responsible Wealth Logos were retrieved on 6/22/13 from http://faireconomy.org/responsible_wealth

*United for a Fair Economy. Projets. Retrieved on 6/22/13 from http://faireconomy.org/programs_projects

Suzannah Scanlon ’14

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