The rich get richer and the poor get poorer, as revealed in three new reports.

The Associated Press found that, “The gap in employment rates between America’s highest- and lowest-income families has stretched to its widest levels since officials began tracking the data a decade ago.”

“Rates of unemployment for the lowest-income families – those earning less than $20,000 – have topped 21 percent, nearly matching the rate for all workers during the 1930s Great Depression,” the AP adds.

A 2012 Internal Revenue Service report concurs that the top 1 percent of the nation’s households (those making at least $395,000 annually) took in the richest’s share of wages, including market gains, at a whopping 19 percent – a record.

And what did the rest of us gain in income in 2012? A unbelievable 1 percent.

The Economic Policy Institute adds insult to injury with a report that CEOs in the restaurant and hospitality industry earn $10 million to $12 million a year. That’s nearly 790 times more than their $15,080 minimum wage employees earn annually. A CEO makes that in half a day. Shameful.

This 30-year unfair trend began with President Ronald Reagan’s much-heralded “trickle down” economy. Overwhelming data are proving that little trickled down from the job creators.

It’s no wonder that some 12.2 million fast food strikers want a raise to $15 an hour plus other benefits that CEOs enjoy. They are not making it on the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour (Missouri’s minimum wage is currently $7.35), and some have to labor at two jobs to survive. Only 18 states and the District of Columbia pay above the federal rate and California, beginning in 2016, will raise its rate from $8 to $10 per hour.

Lobbyists for the restaurant industry, including McDonald’s with its 800,000 employees, keep defending the current minimum wage rate stating such hikes would precipitate layoffs, force up higher prices and generate poorer customer service.

“Not so,” says Moo Cluck Moo, a burger restaurant in Detroit’s metropolitan area. They just raised their minimum wage rate to $15 an hour. A spokesperson said he believes it will lead to better service and less employee turnover. Plus it’s a positive public relations move.

I don’t begrudge anyone making huge salaries or becoming millionaires. I just think fair play and fair pay is the American way. One way to increase a trickle is to open up the faucet.

I give you President John Adam’s toast: independence forever.

Jerry Plantz lives in Lee’s Summit. His website is at Reach him at