Not sure the validity of all the figures here; as Jack Welch pointed out in the government job figures, there is always some jigging and jiving that can be teased out of the data; manipulation of numbers is a combination science and high art, but the gist of growing income inequality is not a new one, since Academics have been following the trend since the late 1970’s, except the chasm has deepened and most likely will deteriorate further.What with the specter of technological unemployment, the gap may never be closed.
The Left credo of pump-priming the economy and letting Keynes multiplier effect work it magic is simply Alice in Wonderland.The conservative approach with austerity is also a dud:eventually distilled down to sanctions on the poor. And removing structural barriers means mobility of capital and people in ways that are not easy to predict. The problem, as writers like Michael Ferguson have written, is fairly simple to comprehend:” The problem is all that uninstalled productivity enhancing technology that I keep talking about. Over the next four years, a lot of it is going to get installed. It will stimulate the economy, create deflationary pressure and induce substantial technological unemployment. Because the initial result of productivity enhancing technology is to decrease jobs and increase profits, it will exacerbate the already significant tension between the classes. The ‘1%’ will continue to get all the goodies.”
(see link at end). They pull all the strings and violins in this article; Dickens and poor Twist in the shadows .Guardian: With limited funds, a handful of volunteers and a van with 194,000 miles on the clock they organise drop-offs for people too poor to buy toothpaste. Last Christmas one of their organisers asked a child what he wanted for Christmas only to be told that he wanted a blanket to keep out of the cold.
“We never finished the war on poverty that was started in the 1960s”, said Hart as she describes how the organisation operates in half the counties of West Virginia. In some, the run-down coal towns of the south, median incomes are $16,000, barely a third of the US average. Hart says the real unemployment rate is well above 20%.
Asked how West Virginia has coped with the recession, she replied: “There wasn’t much here to start with and it’s getting worse.”
…Poverty and inequality were supposed to big issues in this year’s campaign. The growing gulf between rich and poor became a hot issue in 2011 as a result of the Occupy Wall Street protests, and the latest official figures show things getting worse, not better. Of the 34 rich-country members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, only Chile, Mexico and Turkey are more unequal.
But for all president Barack Obama’s rhetoric over taxing the 1% or the brief firestorm that followed the disparaging remarks Mitt Romney made about the 47% he claimed “pay no income tax”, many feel the plight of America’s poor is being ignored.
Martin Gilens, politics professor at Princeton university, said: “Both parties are highly dependent on affluent donors to fund their campaigns. Neither party has seen it as a particularly advantageous issue to push. That’s why inequality has pretty much never been an issue either the Democrats or the Republicans has embraced in this country.”…
The share of national income of the richest 1% more than doubled between 1980 and 2008, from 8% to 18%. They make an average of $1.3m in after-tax income, while the poorest 20% take home $17,700.
Richard Freeman, economics professor at Harvard, said: “It’s clearly a problem. Even conservatives would see that if the trend were to continue it would be devastating. Imagine the trend going on for another decade or two. Most people would say that would be dangerous”.
Already, the risks to the American economy have become apparent. Stagnating real incomes in the three decades leading up to the financial crash of 2007 left many US citizens increasingly hooked on debt. Robert Frank, economics professor at Cornell university says American corporations have forgotten Henry Ford’s insight: workers need to be paid wages high enough for them to buy the goods they are producing.
West Virginia, the US’s second poorest state after Mississippi, has always struggled. The coal mining industry has slashed jobs as it has gone high tech, the steel industry is gone and its mountainous terrain presents physical obstacles to doing business. But in this recession it has been hit yet again.
While Romney pledges to cut entitlements, people on a minimum wage of $7.65 an hour struggle to meet even their most basic needs. At the Bread Basket, a drop-off point for Appalachian Outreach in Ritchie County, people line up for food parcels. Grits, dried pasta, tinned food, basic necessities for those whose money runs out at the end of the month.Read More:http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/oct/12/west-virginia-poverty-inequality-election
(see link at end)…From my view, that is a bit like saying that deciding which brand of potato chips to buy is the greatest act of individuality in our capitalist economy.
If choosing between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama exemplifies who I am, then I don’t think there is much to my individuality. These two paperboard figures are eerily similar in spite of their profoundly different lives. One white, one black. One born rich, the other poor. One a community organizer and the other a capitalist. Yet both are products of the meritocratic culture of Harvard professional schools. Both have an unceasing faith in data and experts. Both are self-satisfied, arrogant, and confident in their unique abilities. And both are politicians who will do or say almost anything to get themselves elected. What is a choice between them really saying about oneself?
The very idea that voting is at the essence of our political world has sent thinkers into a tizzy. Henry David Thoreau had a different view of voting:
All voting is a sort of gaming, like checkers or backgammon, with a slight moral tinge to it, a playing with right and wrong, with moral questions; and betting naturally accompanies it. The character of the voters is not staked. I cast my vote, perchance, as I think right; but I am not vitally concerned that that right should prevail. I am willing to leave it to the majority. Its obligation, therefore, never exceeds that of expediency. Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority. There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men. When the majority shall at length vote for the abolition of slavery, it will be because they are indifferent to slavery, or because there is but little slavery left to be abolished by their vote. They will then be the only slaves. Only his vote can hasten the abolition of slavery who asserts his own freedom by his vote.
And Hannah Arendt also saw that voting was a deeply circumscribed approach to politics. She once wrote: “The voting box can hardly be called a public place.” What distinguished the United States at the time of its revolution was what Hannah Arendt called the experience of “Public Happiness.” From town hall meetings in New England to citizen militias and civic organizations, Americans had the daily experience of self-government….Read More:http://www.hannaharendtcenter.org/?p=7842