Poverty is the defining issue of our time, says Tavis Smiley. And while we have recognized the problem of income inequality, economic mobility is not yet part of our national conversation.
Tavis Smiley: I believe that poverty is the defining issue of our time. I believe that poverty is threatening our very democracy and I mean that sincerely. It's threatening our very democracy, the existence of it, the future of it. I believe that poverty is a matter of national security because these numbers are not sustainable. One percent of the people cannot continue to own and control 40 percent of the wealth. The top 400 richest Americans, 400 individuals, have wealth equivalent to the bottom 150 million fellow citizens. That's not a democracy. You can call it an oligarchy, you can call it plutocracy but it's not a democracy. And that's why say that poverty is threatening our very democracy. So there is clearly the issue of poverty, there is the issue of incoming equality, but I think there's a third issue that we don't talk about enough is the issue of economic mobility. So income and equality is the difference, the gap between the rich and the poor. Well let's be frank, to some degree you're always going to have a gap between the rich and the poor. Economic mobility is about how you lift the poor up from the suffering that they have to endure every day. So the conversation is really not so much about income and inequality or wealth and inequality as it is about economic mobility, that's the issue we have to focus on.