How Bad is the Inequality in America Today?

You aren’t going to like these facts, but America is experiencing the worst inequality in history … and it will only get worse unless we change policy. Inequality in the U.S. is now the highest ever recorded in the country.
Inequality in America today is twice as bad as in ancient Rome, worse than it was in Tsarist Russia, Gilded Age America, modern Egypt, Tunisia or Yemen, many banana republics in Latin America, and worse than experienced by slaves in 1774 colonial America. Economist and inequality expert Thomas Piketty notes that – according to an important measure – inequality in America today is the worst in world history:
For those who work for a living, the level of inequality in the U.S. – writes Piketty – is “… probably higher than in any other society at any time in the past, anywhere in the world …”
In other words, there might have been some squalid country in the distant past where the disparity between people without any job and the king was higher than between a jobless American and the top fatcats in the U.S, but there is no record to validate that fact. The spread between the minimum wage American worker and the American oligarch is the greatest in world history. Indeed, inequality in America has become so extreme that the “99% versus the 1%” meme is grossly inaccurate … because it’s really the .01% versus the 99.99%. 85 people in America have more wealth than 250 million Americans combined! In fact, they have more wealth than 4.5 billion people globally!
Paul Krugman notes:
A lot of what we know about inequality actually comes from Piketty, because he’s been an invisible presence behind a lot. So when you talk about the 1 percent, you’re actually to a larger extent reflecting his prior work. But what he’s really done now is he said, “Even those of you who talk about the 1 percent, you don’t really get what’s going on. You’re living in the past. You’re living in the ’80s. You think that Gordon Gekko is the future.” And Gordon Gekko is a bad guy, he’s a predator. But he’s a self-made predator. And right now, what we’re really talking about is we’re talking about Gordon Gekko’s son or daughter. We’re talking about inherited wealth playing an ever-growing role. So he’s telling us that we are on the road not just to a highly unequal society, but to a society of an oligarchy; A society of inherited wealth, “patrimonial capitalism.” In fact, we are already there.
So we are going probably, unless something gets better, we’re going to look back nostalgically on the early 21st century when you could still at least have the pretense that the wealthy actually earned their wealth. And, you know, by the year 2030, it’ll all be inherited. In other words, we’re going from oligarchy to dynastic royalty.
Nobel Prize winning economist Robert Shiller and Former Goldman Sachs managing director Nomi Prins also say that inequality may get much worse than it is now. Mainstream economists like Krugman – who long discounted the importance of inequality – now finally admit that runaway inequality destroys the economy. Unfortunately (and ironically), the policies which they push are the very thing causing extreme inequality in the first place.
The sad reality is that “We The People” have the ability to correct this gross injustice by simply casting a well informed vote to change the government policies these oligarchs have pushed through CONgress while we have apathetically snoozed away.
It is no accident that voter suppression laws are being sought in nearly every state. It is no accident that bills are being passed to suppress our constitutional rights to assembly and free speech. It is no accident that our local police forces look like military special operations units. It is no accident that there is resistance to raising the minimum wage to a livable wage in the 21st century. It is no accident that we are being pitted against each other along religious and anti-government lines. It is no accident that that our schools are crumbling and our educational system is in shambles. It is no accident that even after the affordable health care act has passed that CONgress has voted 50 times to repeal it and states have opted out of Medicaid expansion. It is no accident that mainstream media create “facts” that really don’t exist or that 5 corporations own 96% of the major media outlets in this country.
Our only question is why do we not see what’s being done to us. As a majority, do we not struggle to pay for our children’s education? Do we not face the financial hardships of a catastrophic illness? Do we not struggle to feed and house our families? So then, why do we not unite and fight back against the reality staring us in the face? Why do we not say enough?!
Not one single incumbent should be re-elected in 2014, not one! Not one “Tea Party” candidate should stand a snow ball’s chance of winning. The most elected candidates should be “none of the above”! We should be occupying congress every day! We should be calling for the arrest and criminal prosecution of every congressional member and all of the banksters.
Truly if you do understand what is really going on here, you are a slave with a slave mentality. Is this what you really are? Is this what you want for your children’s future? If you wake up and it’s too late, there is a cold hard reality that awaits you…You were responsible for your reality because you did not act, you did not take the time to realize and resist. You put the chains on yourself and your family for the foreseeable future.

Understanding the Reality of Income Inequality and Why It Is So.

We have all heard recently of the startling OXFAM report that found that the 85 richest people in the world have more wealth than 3.5 billion poorest among us. That, in and of itself is a startling statement, and those who have read this probably thought that it was sad, interesting, but didn’t really impact their lives, Thank God.

poverty2

Here are the facts as they are currently in the world:

1). The great majority of the 3.5 billion have no net wealth at all.

2). Hundreds of millions of them have jobs that hardly pay enough to feed their families.

3). Millions of them rely on supplements from private charity and public assistance when they can.

4). Hundreds of millions are undernourished, suffer food insecurity, or go hungry each month, including many among the very poorest in the United States.

5). The number of people living in poverty is growing at a faster rate than the world’s population.

6). Most of the 3.5 billion earn an average of $2.50 a day.

7). The poorest 40 percent of the world population accounts for just 5 percent of all global income.

8). About 80 percent of all humanity live on less than $10 a day.

These are staggering, sad facts, but as you ho hum about these facts, there is something these people have the next 20% of those “who are better off” don’t have. They have a ZERO net worth. The NEXT UPPER 20% actually have a NEGATIVE net worth and are in fact worse off really than that pitiful 3.5 billion.

child-poverty

They have a car, but a debt associated with it. They have a home, but a mortgage debt they will carry for 20 or 30 years! They have an education, but a college tuition debt they will carry for an average of ten years or more.

The point here is that as sad as the situation is for these bottom 3.5 billion, they are freer now that their economic rape is complete. Most of us however, are NOW in the process of being drained of any hope of achieving middle or upper class status, because we are the ones who are now willingly enslaving ourselves to feed the insatiable need for power to accrue more wealth and more control of everything.

The superrich in America and in many other countries find ways, legal and illegal, to shelter much of their wealth in secret accounts. We don’t really know how very rich the very rich really are. Can we really compare private jets, mansions, landed estates, super luxury vacation retreats, luxury apartments, luxury condos, and luxury cars, not to mention hundreds of billions of dollars in equities, bonds, commercial properties, art works, antiques, etc.—can we really compare all that enormous wealth against some millions of used cars, used furniture, and used television sets, many of which are ready to break down?  Of what resale value if any, are such minor durable-use commodities?

This is the illusion we are all buying! The truth is 90% of us could not survive 30-60 days without an income! We are the working slaves supporting this continually growing obscene oligarchy. The 3.5 billion are really the devoured cadavers of this reality and they can no longer speak up. We are the still viable and able bodied that can stand up and say ENOUGH. It is time to end this obscenity. We need to realize that the end reality of this trend is, as history has repeatedly taught, a violent and unnecessary bloody revolt and a step back for humanity as a whole. In fact, when we look around it has already started in places like Egypt, Yemen, Ukraine, India, Venezuela, and Africa.

If we do not speak now, we will never be able to speak out. If we do not act now to weed out the political reality we are now subject to, we will not have the right to even pretend we have a democracy. Can we not see that believing these realities of the poor are not our realities is exactly what is allowing this reality to continue to grow and exist? Think about these things the next time you, in your delusion, you rail against governments regulating the banking industry or governments providing social services such as health care or social security. Think about this when you think about those of color who are growing up in jail, instead of schools as the bane on society, while the greatest criminals are sipping champagne and eating caviar on Wall Street, bragging about how little it took to bribe this Senator or that Congressman, and what fools they were when they passed this bill or that that gave these oligarchs carte blanche over our lives.

For the love of God and humanity, we must THINK for ourselves and not allow “our opinion” to be piped into our brains from talking heads! If we can accomplish that honesty with ourselves, we will take our civilization and our evolution to the next level—Recognizing we are all sovereign human beings. In accomplishing that we will no longer need governance or standing armies because we will all fully understand the self-evident fact that ALL men and women are created equal.  We will understand the reality that we can only be successful as the least among us.

We cannot allow this inequality to continue unchecked. We all know what needs to be done to correct it. Let’s get to it.

Making Government Serve the People Starts with Understanding the Left/Right Fraud

In politics and sociology, divide and rule (or divide and conquer) (derived from Greek: διαίρει καὶ βασίλευε, diaírei kaì basíleue) is gaining and maintaining power by breaking up larger concentrations of power into pieces that individually have less power than the one implementing the strategy. The concept refers to a strategy that breaks up existing power structures and prevents smaller power groups from linking up.

The maxims divide et impera and divide ut regnes were utilized by the Roman ruler Caesar and the French emperor Napoleon. The example of Gabinius exists, parting the Jewish nation into five conventions, reported by Flavius Josephus in Book I, 169-170 of The Wars of the Jews (De bello Judaico). Strabo also reports in Geography, 8.7.3 that the Achaean League was gradually dissolved under the Roman possession of the whole of Macedonia, owing to them not dealing with the several states in the same way, but wishing to preserve some and to destroy others.

Elements of this conquer and divide technique involve:

  • creating or encouraging divisions among the subjects to prevent alliances that could challenge the sovereign
  • aiding and promoting those who are willing to cooperate with the sovereign
  • fostering distrust and enmity between local rulers
  • encouraging meaningless expenditures that reduce the capability for political and military spending

Historically, this strategy was used in many different ways by empires seeking to expand their territories.

In America the left-right political spectrum is a system of classifying political positions, ideologies and parties. Left-wing politics and right-wing politics are often presented as opposed, although a particular individual or group may take a left-wing stance on one matter and a right-wing stance on another.

The right is always the party sector associated with the interests of the upper or dominant classes, the left the sector expressive of the lower economic or social classes, and the centre that of the middle classes. Historically this criterion seems acceptable. The conservative right has defended entrenched prerogatives, privileges and powers; the left has attacked them. The right has been more favorable to the aristocratic position, to the hierarchy of birth or of wealth; the left has fought for the equalization of advantage or of opportunity, for the claims of the less advantaged.

However, what we have witnessed over the last fifty years is that the privileged elitists have completely usurped the political system to serve their interest and as a result 98% of the economic growth in America since 2008 has gone to the upper 1/2 of 1% of us. Isn’t it ironic that at the same time we, as a political nation, have never been more polarized?

Twice in this period we have seem groups try to emerge to counter this reality. The Tea Party was NOT started by the far right. It was started in Boston to protest the findings of George Bush’s 911 Commission, but was quickly financed covertly by the Koch Brothers and now espouses a doctrine that the MSM categorizes as the “far right”.

The Occupy Movement rose up in opposition to the realities of what was and is happening to our economic opportunities. The MSM associated them with the “far left” socialistic movement and they quickly faded from view.

What we have to understand here is that this polarization is being orchestrated by the oligarchic few to keep us from uniting to demand economic equality and they are being very successful with this strategy. Most of us take a position of left or right, Democrat or Republican and then we view the opposition to our views as “the enemy”, “the fools”, but we honestly and clearly have no idea why. We are conditioned to regurgitate the points that the paid talking heads baboons tell us to think. All the while, we are sinking deeper and deeper into economic disparity and those at the top are taking more and more.

It is time we wake to this reality. WE ARE ALL BEING PLAYED!! Whether you associate with right or left, blue or red, big government or no government and any other crap you have been fed, stop for a moment and THINK. What is in MY best interest? Make it personal. We are made to believe if we support this party or that party, then we can rally and throw the rascals out. That is BS. Regardless of who has the current majority, the policies supporting big business, corporations, and the oligarchy DO NOT change and that is because we do not have a REAL choice other than the color banner of the pre-selected monkey we send to Washington. Even that is being manipulated by the recent rash of gerrymandering.

Be honest with yourself now. Ask a simple question. Why is there only a 13% approval rating of CONgress, if 50% of us agree on this party or that party? It is because we all know we are being played! So what are we going to do about this? First, let’s stop arguing among ourselves over the red vs. blue crap. Starting engaging each other about how we really solve the problems in our local communities. Let’s all register Independent! Don’t choose red or blue, choose red, white, and blue.

Starting at the local level, then district levels, then state levels, let’s start electing people we know and trust from our communities, not the monkeys trouped out for our perusal. Meet everyone in your block and in your neighborhood. Have a street party to talk about your needs with one rule in place, no red versus blue or liberal versus conservative talk allowed. Meet to get to know one another and with the goal to develop what your block neighborhood, and city really needs. Identify the leaders among your group and encourage them to run for office, with one condition, no corporate or party campaign funding accepted. See what happens as this grows.

Look we all know what’s wrong, we just haven’t accepted the fact we have been duped. It is embarrassing, but we have to get beyond this now. Let’s do it.

Waking Up First, Acting Up Second, Demanding Equality

In our ongoing efforts to help wake ourselves up, it is important to understand that failure to awaken is tantamount to dying, in every sense of that word. Part of this understanding is we have to understand that we, the majority of the world, are victims of own lack of uniting together to change our reality.

Did you know that the 85 richest people in the world have about as much wealth as the poorest 50% of the entire global population does?  In other words, 85 extremely wealthy individuals have about as much wealth as the poorest 3,500,000,000 have.  This shocking statistic comes from a new report on global poverty by Oxfam.  And actually Oxfam’s report probably significantly underestimates the true scope of the problem, because Oxfam relies on publicly reported numbers.  At the very top of the food chain, the global elite are masters at hiding their wealth. The global elite have approximately 32 trillion dollars (that we know about) stashed in offshore banks around the world.  That would be about enough to pay off the entire U.S. national debt and still buy every good and service produced in the United States for an entire year.

There is certainly nothing wrong with making money.  However, when the scales become this unbalanced it is time to correct this injustice. 4 billion people on this planet live on less than $2 per day. Now the reality is that there isn’t a snow ball’s chance of “making it”. Today, we have a debt-based global financial system which is dominated by gigantic predator corporations and big banks.  Working together with national governments, these corporations and banks have constructed a system called “Corporatism” in which the percentage of all global wealth that is being funneled to the very top of the pyramid steadily grows over time. That wealth has expanded by 42% just in the last five years.

This isn’t just a phenomena in the US, or the developed nations, this is also happening in virtually every other nation on the face of the planet.  The global elite have rigged the game to send just about all of the rewards their way, and it is working.  The following are facts taken directly from Oxfam’s latest report

•Almost half of the world’s wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population.

The wealth of the one percent richest people in the world amounts to $110 trillion. That’s 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the world’s population.

•The bottom half of the world’s population owns the same as the richest 85 people in the world.

•Seven out of ten people live in countries where economic inequality has increased in the last 30 years.

•The richest one percent increased their share of income in 24 out of 26 countries for which we have data between 1980 and 2012.

In the US, the wealthiest one percent captured 95 percent of post-financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent became poorer.

Here are the factual impacts from this reality? In a memo to clients provided to Secrets, David John Marotta calculates, that in the US,  the actual unemployment rate of those not working at a sky-high 37.2 percent, not the 6.7 percent advertised by the Fed, and the Misery Index at over 14, not the 8 claimed by the government. In The rest of the world it is equivalent to that or higher.

In fact, as the elites meet in Davos next week, we are facing conditions never experienced in modern times on a global basis. The elite will give lip service to income inequality, but they honestly have no basis to understand the misery their greed has inflicted. However, they do have a sense of impending danger to their safety. They do worry that revolt is rising globally and that their personal safety may be in jeopardy, but it is unlikely that anything effective, like a redistribution of wealth, will come from  Davos.

It is time for us to stand up together, globally, and remove these shackles. We must do it in a non violent, but determined manner. A million people every day in every capital of the world standing and demanding economic parity, dignity, our fair share in the form of livable wages, reasonable access to shelter, education, health care, and economic opportunity, It is time we take the responsibility to act up and speak up. No one or no government is going to do it for us. It is time we stop fooling ourselves, and lying to ourselves that it is going to be OK. Surely someone will take care of this. No one is going to do this except us. We really have to get that before it is too late.

The Real Killer in the Economy – Income Inequality

Four years of so-called stimulus, a record setting stock performance, banksters racking in record profits but still on the edge of economic collapse. What is the real deal killer here? Growing income inequality in the United States has Americans talking about justice and economic fairness, but a new study suggests the burgeoning wealth gap is threatening more than just our pocketbooks. It might be raising our risk for an early death.

In one of the few studies to track the health effects of income inequality over time, one Ohio State University (OSU) researcher has discovered that an increase in inequality leads mortality rates to begin rising after five years. Inequality-linked mortality peaks about two years later, before tapering off five years after that. All told, even a modest increase in American societal inequality more than doubles an average individual’s cumulative risk of death over the next 12 years.

Drawing data from the U.S. National Health Interview Survey for the years 1986 to 2004, the study found that for every 0.01 increase in the Gini coefficient — a standard measure of a country’s economic disparity where 0 represents perfect societal equality and 1 represents maximum inequality — an average person’s cumulative risk of death increased by 112 percent in the next dozen years. Hui Zheng, the OSU sociologist who ran the study, replicated the results using three different measures of inequality across a sample of more than 700,000 Americans aged 30 and older. He then ran the same test on 18- to 25-year-olds, with similar results.

The possibility may be precisely the argument Occupy Wall Street protesters have taken up for themselves: that the accrual of wealth to the nation’s elites creates further incentives to preserve that wealth at the expense of the disadvantaged. Inexplicably, the effect of income inequality on death rates drops off after a dozen years. But, Zheng said, the point is that income inequality doesn’t simply have an immediate impact on public health, as previous studies have suggested. Income inequality may increase over time.

Since 1980, the Gini coefficient in the United States has grown from 0.403 to 0.469 in 2010. Even if inequality were held constant for the foreseeable future, Zheng’s research suggests that Americans will be likely to feel the knock-on mortality effects of past inequality increases through at least 2021. Add that to the growing list of things that are killing us slowly.

paycheck1

Here’s a finding that would have made for great occupy sign last year: American income inequality may be more severe today than it was way back in 1774 — even if you factor in slavery.

Income_Distribution_Colonial_America

That stat’s not actually as crazy as it sounds, but it might upend some of the old wisdom about our country’s economic heritage. The conclusion comes to us from a newly updated study by professors Peter Lindert of the University of California – Davis and Jeffrey Williamson of Harvard. Scraping together data from an array of historical resources, the duo have written a fascinating exploration of early American incomes, arguing that, on the eve of the Revolutionary War, wealth was distributed more evenly across the 13 colonies than anywhere else in the world that we have record of.  Suffice to say, times have changed.

In this case, Williamson and Lindert use occupational directories, tax lists, post-revolutionary census documents, and earlier scholarship, among other resources, to build approximations of what people earned when we were getting ready to start turning our muskets on the British. Inherently, such a process involves lots of conjecture.

In the end, the pair find that the colonies were an exceedingly egalitarian place, financially, if not politically. Williamson and Linderts compares the original 13 colonies to contemporary England and the Netherlands (including the former Kingdom of Holland) using a popular measure of inequality known as the Gini coefficient.

Not only was income more equally divided in the colonies, but Americans across the economic spectrum tended to be richer than their European counterparts. Even slaves, who were occasionally paid a tiny sum for their forced labor in addition to shelter and food, technically earned more than the poorest Europeans, Lindert and Williamson write. (From a human rights perspective, they were obviously worse off).* The single big exception to this rule was the top 1 percent: Europe’s elite were still wealthier than ours.

On measures of equality, the colonies also compare extremely well to the latter-day United States. By the time the Civil War came, the top 1 percent of U.S. households laid claim to 10 percent of the nation’s income, versus about 7 percent during the founders’ era. Today, the same group accounts for about 19 percent. Even if you use more conservative measures of American income inequality from the Census Bureau, it still appears we were more of a middle-class society back when tri-corner hats were actually considered high fashion. 

We are a much richer nation, and much better off today, than 240 years ago. In the 1770s, America was a heavily agrarian country of yeoman farmers, merchants, and tradesmen, with an economy that accounted to just a few billion dollars in present values. Like India or Russia today, both of which technically enjoy more income equality than the United States, early Americans were relatively poor compared to us. They were just relatively poor together. The first wave of industrialization in the 19th century increased living standards, but also offered bigger rewards to factory owners than their workers. That pattern neatly fits our classic understanding of what’s supposed to happen when economies move from farming to manufacturing. And by now, we’ve gone through several epic rounds of economic upheaval that have left us with a vast gulf between the rich and the rest, as well as a welfare state that tries to mitigate some of the side effects of that difference.

paycheck2

Politically, though, there may be a lesson in this. Some would argue that income inequality is an acceptable sacrifice to make in return for income mobility — the ability for children and families to work their way to better stations in life. But as Chrystia Freeland has noted, the founding fathers evidently formed their ideas about democracy in a social context very different than our own, when distinctions of wealth simply weren’t as sharp. It’s possible they expected an equal society to remain considerably more equal than it is today.

Income inequality is not a uniquely American problem. Over the past 30 years, it’s surged across the developed world, driven by everything from the insane wealth generated by big finance to the victory of computers (and offshoring) over blue-collar labor.

paycheck6

That said, there’s a case to be made that U.S. income inequality is in fact exceptional, and not just because of its severity.  A 2008 report by the OECD tells us is that in many developed countries, a rising tide has truly lifted all boats, with the wealthy rising a bit faster. In the United States, the tide is lifting up the rich, while drowning many of the poor.

Like their peers across the developed world, American women’s earnings rose as they broke into the labor force — though less so for lower-income women. For American men, it was a different story. Among the upper-middle-class and rich, male earnings inched up on the whole. Among the lower-middle class and poor, their incomes shrank. The only other country that saw a similar phenomenon was Canada, where incomes seemed to stagnate in general.

paycheck7

That’s what’s so frightening about the way the U.S. economy was changing even before the Great Recession. It’s not just that the rich saw their finances improve faster than everyone else’s. It’s that many Americans were seeing the value of their work, and in some cases their standard of living, decline. And that makes us at least a little bit special, in a very unfortunate way.

Perhaps the most politically contentious aspect of President Barack Obama’s new proposed legislation, aimed to revive the still-struggling U.S. economy, is $1.5 trillion in tax increases, much of it aimed at wealthy Americans. The White House is calling this “the Buffett rule.” Named for super-investor Warren Buffett’s complaint that he pays a lower tax rate than some of his most menial wage employees, the legislation would be designed to ensure that anyone making more than $1 million per year will pay at least the same rate as middle-income taxpayers.

Obama’s “Buffett rule” is a response to a number of U.S. economic issues related to the recession. One of the most severe is income inequality — the gaps between wealthy, super-wealthy, and everyone else — a serious, long-worsening problem that makes the recession more painful and recovery more difficult. To get a sense of just how bad our income inequality has become, it’s worth taking a look at how we stack up to the rest of the world.

Viewed comparatively, U.S. income inequality is even worse than you might expect. Perfect comparisons across the world’s hundred-plus economies would be impossible — standards of living, the price of staples, social services, and other variables all mean that relative poverty feels very different from one country to another. But, in absolute terms, the gulf between rich and poor is still telling. When you look at the US, we are comparable income inequality to countries like Cameroon, Madagascar, Rwanda, Uganda, and Ecuador. A number are currently embroiled in or just emerging from deeply destabilizing conflicts, some of them linked to income inequality: Mexico, Côte d’Ivoire, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Serbia.  Perhaps most damning is China, which is significantly more equal than the U.S. with a Gini coefficient of 0.415, where the severe income gap has been a source of worsening political instability for almost 20 years. Leagues ahead of the U.S. on income inequality is India, Gini coefficient 0.368, where outrage over corruption and income inequality recently inspired a protest movement that shook the world’s largest democracy. Russia, which has seen three popular revolutions in the last century against the caviar-shoveling oligarchs who still run everything, is also less unequal than the U.S., at 0.422 Gini.

paycheck5

These are the facts, and they don’t paint a rosy picture for “the world’s leading economy”. These are facts verified by scholars, not politicians, banksters, or those pseudo-scientists called economists. These are facts that should outrage the American people. To you tea party folks, I would suggest THIS is the issue you should focus on, instead of being dupes to the very oligarchy that is crushing you and cajoling you to say big government is the issue.  The fact of the matter is you are the masters of your own demise and you don’t even know it. To those who are “blindly” conservative, WAKE UP!

paycheck8

There are only two possibilities to put this ship back on course to a vibrant economy. First, we can foment a revolution, but the elites have armed themselves well and have a very well planned “martial law” scheme to handle that contingency OR we can educate ourselves correctly and deal with these issues politically by putting people in office that will demand our GOVERNMENT take the necessary steps to deal with the real KILLER issue- INCOME INEQUALITY. Duh, how hard is this to understand when you have the facts.