The United States of Inequality

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The United States of Inequality

Postby Dardedar » Wed Sep 08, 2010 1:07 pm

The United States of Inequality

Introducing the Great Divergence

By Timothy Noah

Excerpt:

"It's generally understood that we live in a time of growing income inequality, but "the ordinary person is not really aware of how big it is," Krugman told me. During the late 1980s and the late 1990s, the United States experienced two unprecedentedly long periods of sustained economic growth—the "seven fat years" and the " long boom." Yet from 1980 to 2005, more than 80 percent of total increase in Americans' income went to the top 1 percent. Economic growth was more sluggish in the aughts, but the decade saw productivity increase by about 20 percent. Yet virtually none of the increase translated into wage growth at middle and lower incomes, an outcome that left many economists scratching their heads.

Here is a snapshot of income distribution during the past 100 years:

Image

Why don't Americans pay more attention to growing income disparity? One reason may be our enduring belief in social mobility. Economic inequality is less troubling if you live in a country where any child, no matter how humble his or her origins, can grow up to be president. In a survey of 27 nations conducted from 1998 to 2001, the country where the highest proportion agreed with the statement "people are rewarded for intelligence and skill" was, of course, the United States. (69 percent). But when it comes to real as opposed to imagined social mobility, surveys find less in the United States than in much of (what we consider) the class-bound Old World. France, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Spain—not to mention some newer nations like Canada and Australia—are all places where your chances of rising from the bottom are better than they are in the land of Horatio Alger's Ragged Dick.

All my life I've heard Latin America described as a failed society (or collection of failed societies) because of its grotesque maldistribution of wealth. Peasants in rags beg for food outside the high walls of opulent villas, and so on. But according to the Central Intelligence Agency (whose patriotism I hesitate to question), income distribution in the United States is more unequal than in Guyana, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, and roughly on par with Uruguay, Argentina, and Ecuador. Income inequality is actually declining in Latin America even as it continues to increase in the United States. Economically speaking, the richest nation on earth is starting to resemble a banana republic."

The rest at SLATE

Also:

GINI coefficien­t measure wealth concentrat­ion; 0 means everyone has the same wealth, 100 means all wealth is concentrat­ed in a single person.

From the latest CIA World Factbook: (selected nations):

Rank Nation GINI
1 Namibia 70.7
2 S.Africa 65.0
3 Lesotho 63.2
39 US 45.0
42 Iran 44.5
92 UK 34.0
98 France 32.7
101 Canada 32.1
110 Australia 30.5
111 EU Avg 30.4
124 Germany 27.0
134 Norway 25.0
135 Hungary 24.7
136 Sweden 23.0

Source:
https://ww­w.cia.gov/­library/pu­blications­/the-world­-factbook/­rankorder/­rawdata_21­72.txt

LINK

***
Wealth inequality is exceedingly important, and far more so than most people realize, especially anecdotal based arm chair political conservatives types that just drive around imagining that what they want to believe to be true, actually is true. This study makes the point nicely:

***
"The Theory of Everything
These two British academics argue that almost every social problem, from crime to obesity, stems from one root cause: inequality.
...almost every social problem common in developed societies - reduced life expectancy, child mortality, drugs, crime, homicide rates, mental illness and obesity - has a single root cause: inequality.

"It became clear," Wilkinson says, "that countries such as the US, the UK and Portugal, where the top 20% earn seven, eight or nine times more than the lowest 20%, scored noticeably higher on all social problems at every level of society than in countries such as Sweden and Japan, where the differential is only two or three times higher at the top."

The statistics came from the World Bank's list of 50 richest countries, but Wilkinson suggests their conclusions apply more broadly.
To ensure their findings weren't explainable by cultural differences, they analysed the data from all 50 US states and found the same pattern. In states
where income differentials were greatest, so were the social problems and lack of cohesion."
http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2009/ ... sh-society

***
"Harder for Americans to Rise From Lower Rungs"

"WASHINGTON — Benjamin Franklin did it. Henry Ford did it. And American life is built on the faith that others can do it, too: rise from humble origins to economic heights...
But many researchers have reached a conclusion that turns conventional wisdom on its head: Americans enjoy less economic mobility than their peers in Canada and much of Western Europe." ...
"At least five large studies in recent years have found the United States to be less mobile than comparable nations. A project led by Markus Jantti, an economist at a Swedish university, found that 42 percent of American men raised in the bottom fifth of incomes stay there as adults. That shows a level of persistent disadvantage much higher than in Denmark (25 percent) and Britain (30 percent) — a country famous for its class constraints.
Meanwhile, just 8 percent of American men at the bottom rose to the top fifth. That compares with 12 percent of the British and 14 percent of the Danes.
Despite frequent references to the United States as a classless society, about 62 percent of Americans (male and female) raised in the top fifth of incomes stay in the top two-fifths,... Similarly, 65 percent born in the bottom fifth stay in the bottom two-fifths." --NYT's http://tinyurl.com/assl28c
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Re: The United States of Inequality

Postby Dardedar » Sat Sep 11, 2010 10:18 pm

A picture that Rachael Madow says is worth seven hundred billions words:

Image

The United States of Inequality

I think she's about right.

"In Democrat-world, pre-tax income increased 2.64 percent annually for the poor and lower-middle-class and 2.12 percent annually for the upper-middle-class and rich. There was no Great Divergence. Instead, the Great Compression—the egalitarian income trend that prevailed through the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s—continued to the present, albeit with incomes converging less rapidly than before. In Republican-world, meanwhile, pre-tax income increased 0.43 percent annually for the poor and lower-middle-class and 1.90 percent for the upper-middle-class and rich. Not only did the Great Divergence occur; it was more greatly divergent. Also of note: In Democrat-world pre-tax income increased faster than in the real world not just for the 20th percentile but also for the 40th, 60th, and 80th. We were all richer and more equal! But in Republican-world, pre-tax income increased slower than in the real world not just for the 20th percentile but also for the 40th, 60th, and 80th. We were all poorer and less equal!" --ibid


Everyone does better under Democratic presidents.
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Re: The United States of Inequality

Postby L.Wood » Sun Sep 26, 2010 6:23 pm

Dar-
Why don't Americans pay more attention to growing income disparity? One reason may be our enduring belief in social mobility.


They are not aware of it. When Shawn Hannity can sit on FOX in an interview with Michael Moore about SICKO and claim he pays 60% of his income in taxes the Great Unread assumes the rich are taxed. When challenged (by Moore) to produce his tax returns to prove he paid 60% Hannity refused. With liars like that in charge of much of American mass media it's no wonder the Great Unread are unaware. "...politics is at least 50% Dark Side and getting darker," Joe Bageant

.
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Re: The United States of Inequality

Postby Dardedar » Sun Sep 26, 2010 7:12 pm

The same Shawn Hannity that offered to be water boarded to prove it wasn't torture... but when another rightwing blowhard actually tried it and crawled away whimpering like a baby after less than ten seconds, Hannity ran like the coward he is.

In an article I posted yesterday I referenced an article that shows how billionaire hedge fund managers get away with paying no taxes at all.

Here is the quote in question:

The number of people reporting incomes of $200,000 or more but legally paying no federal income taxes skyrocketed in the second Bush term. A decade ago it was fewer than 1,500 taxpayers; in 2000 it was about 2,300. This high-income, tax-free group jumped to more than 11,000 in 2007 and then doubled in 2008 to more than 22,000.

In 2008 nearly 1 in every 200 high-income taxpayers paid no federal income tax, up from about 1 in 1,500 in 1998.

The share of high incomes that were untaxed increased more than sevenfold to one dollar of every $166.

The Statistics of Income data on tax-free, high incomes severely understate economic reality because they exclude deferral accounts, including those of hedge fund managers with billion-dollar incomes who can legally report no current income and borrow against their untaxed gains to live tax free.


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Re: The United States of Inequality

Postby Dardedar » Tue Nov 30, 2010 1:31 am

An excellent resource and lots of charts on the issue of wealth inequality:

15 Mind-Blowing Facts About Wealth And Inequality In America

"The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Cliché, sure, but it's more true than at any time since the Gilded Age.
While politicians gloat about our "recovery," our poor are getting poorer, our average wages are still falling behind inflation, and social mobility is at an all-time low.
But, yes, if you're in that top 1%, life in America is grand."

1. The gap between the top 0.01% and everyone else hasn't been this big since the Roaring Twenties

Image

2. Half of America owns 2.5% of country's wealth. The top 1% owns a third of it.

Image

The Rest Here
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Re: The United States of Inequality

Postby Doug » Sat Feb 19, 2011 8:24 pm

DOUG
Obama's budget proposal is little different from something GW Bush might have proposed: you give the top 2% their 400 billion dollar tax cut, and you try to make up some of that loss of revenue by cutting back on aid to the poor and middle class.

WASHINGTON -- Less than two months after signing tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans into law, President Barack Obama proposed a spending plan to Congress that cuts funding to programs that assist the working poor, help the needy heat their homes, and expand access to graduate-level education, undermining the kind of community-based organizations that helped Obama launch his political career in Chicago.

Obama's new budget puts forward a plan to achieve $1.1 trillion in deficit reductions over the next decade, according to an administration official who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity in advance of the formal release of the budget.

Those reductions -- averaging just over $100 billion each year -- are achieved mainly by squeezing social programs. A deal struck to extend the Bush tax cuts for just two years, meanwhile, increased the deficit by $858 billion dollars. More than $500 billion of that bargain constituted tax cuts, with billions more funding business tax breaks and a reduction in the estate tax. Roughly $56 billion went to reauthorize emergency unemployment benefits.

The president's budget was expected to mostly target "non-defense discretionary spending," which makes up less than one-quarter of the overall budget, making balancing the budget with such cuts mathematically impossible.

See here.
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Re: The United States of Inequality

Postby Doug » Sat Feb 19, 2011 8:46 pm

See here.

The low-income have been hit particularly hard in the recession and by the tax deal. Now low-income seniors could share a disproportionate amount of the sacrifice everybody but the really rich are being asked to make, if the Obama administration's budget proposals for 2012 are adopted.

The National Council on Again completed an analysis, reported by The Washington Independent, which "highlights what will hit low-income older Americans the hardest, emphasizing the 45 percent cut to the Senior Community Service Employment Program, a 45-year old program funded by the U.S. Department of Labor to help unemployed people over the age of 55 find part-time jobs for community service organizations. Eligibility is limited to 125 percent of the poverty line...."

The National Council on Aging predicts the cut would translate to 55,000 lost part-time jobs.
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Re: The United States of Inequality

Postby Dardedar » Sat Jul 30, 2011 9:54 am

The Shape of Inequality And Its Impact on Growth

"This figure from EPI shows the fanning out of real hourly wages, indexed to 100 in 1973, over the last few decades. Clearly, the top continuously pulls away from the pack, as can be seen by the lines for the 90th and 95th wage percentiles.
But the slide also shows ways in which the shape of inequality, at least regarding wages, has changed over these years."

Image

"There was little wage inequality in the 1970s, but in the 1980s, the bottom was falling, the middle flat, and the top rising -- a basic fanning out of the wage distribution.

The latter 1990s were once again different. The high end continued to rise but low and middle real wages grew together, and at a pretty decent clip. The cause of the nice bump was the full employment conditions that prevailed for a few years back then, and as I've stressed, that dynamic leads to broad-based growth which pushes back against rising inequality.

Middle and low-wages flattened in the much weaker job market of the 2000s, while the top just kept on ticking."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jared-ber ... 12992.html
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Re: The United States of Inequality

Postby arkansasmediawatch » Sat Jul 30, 2011 1:04 pm

Excellent posts. I strongly recommend the book Winner-Take-All Politics by Hacker and Pierson. It analyzes not just how bad inequality has gotten but also how we got there. It's related to the growing influence of business interests in Washington and the erosion of worker and middle class organizations. Polls show that Americans haven't shifted to the right in their economic views since the 1970s, it's just that the views of low-and middle income Americans don't matter any more to politicians because they lack the organizational clout to make their voices heard. That's the main thesis of the book.

"Why don't Americans pay more attention to growing income disparity?"

Part of the reason is surely that they are not well informed. Polls do show that most Americans now believe there is too much inequality but they actually underestimate the real extent. Other examples, Some half of Americans think that Obama has raised taxes when in fact he lowered them, and almost half of Medicare and SS recipients believe that they are not benefiting from any government program (http://movementvision.org/finds/no-no-g ... t-help-me/)!

Then of course there is the systematic disinformation campaign by the corporate media. I have a couple of posts on shameless lies published by the ADG about economic matters. Here I have to repeat myself: if we don't demand accountability from the media, we won't get it. Let ADG bosses know that their lies don't go unchallenged. Demand that they correct inaccuracies. Challenge their legitimacy. Request an explanation. We have some mechanisms to hold politicians accountable but we have absolutely none to hold the media accountable for blatant misconduct. It is wrong to excuse media misconduct as an exercise of free speech. On the contrary, the corporate media are suppressing free speech. Their political activism is an exercise of power and it requires citizen power to push back.

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Re: The United States of Inequality

Postby Dardedar » Thu Sep 29, 2011 12:15 am

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Re: The United States of Inequality

Postby Dardedar » Mon Oct 24, 2011 10:21 pm

Since 2009, 88 Percent Of Income Growth Went To Corporate Profits, Just One Percent Went To Wages

“Between the second quarter of 2009 and the fourth quarter of 2010, real national income in the U.S. increased by $528 billion. Pre-tax corporate profits by themselves had increased by $464 billion while aggregate real wages and salaries rose by only $7 billion or only .1%. Over this six quarter period, corporate profits captured 88% of the growth in real national income while aggregate wages and salaries accounted for only slightly more than 1% of the growth in real national income. …The absence of any positive share of national income growth due to wages and salaries received by American workers during the current economic recovery is historically unprecedented.”

Think Progress
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Re: The United States of Inequality

Postby Dardedar » Mon May 21, 2012 11:31 am

Image
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Re: The United States of Inequality

Postby Dardedar » Mon Jun 18, 2012 10:12 pm

Again:

Image

Article here

An excellent video explanation of the above chart:

http://mashable.com/2013/03/02/wealth-inequality/

Six minutes well spent.
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Re: The United States of Inequality

Postby Dardedar » Thu Jul 19, 2012 11:34 pm

How Unequal We Are: The Top 5 Facts You Should Know
About The Wealthiest One Percent Of Americans


By Zaid Jilani on Oct 3, 2011 at 11:25 am

As the ongoing occupation of Wall Street by hundreds of protesters enters its third week — and as protests spread to other cities such as Boston and Los Angeles — demonstrators have endorsed a new slogan: “We are the 99 percent.” This slogan refers an economic struggle between 99 percent of Americans and the richest one percent of Americans, who are increasingly accumulating a greater share of the national wealth to the detriment of the middle class.
It may shock you exactly how wealthy this top 1 percent of Americans is. ThinkProgress has assembled five facts about this class of super-rich Americans:

1. The Top 1 Percent Of Americans Owns 40 Percent Of The Nation’s Wealth: As Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz points out, the richest 1 percent of Americans now own 40 percent of the nation’s wealth. Sociologist William Domhoff illustrates this wealth disparity using 2007 figures where the top 1 percent owned 42 percent of the country’s financial wealth (total net worth minus the value of one’s home). How much does the bottom 80 percent own? Only 7 percent:

Image

As Stiglitz notes, this disparity is much worse than it was in the past, as just 25 years ago the top 1 percent owned 33 percent of national wealth.

---

The rest here... Think Progress
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Re: The United States of Inequality

Postby Dardedar » Wed Oct 03, 2012 12:40 am

Top 1% Got 93% of Income Growth as Rich-Poor Gap Widened

"The divergent fortunes of Reyes and Hemsley show that the U.S. has gone through two recoveries. The 1.2 million households whose incomes put them in the top 1 percent of the U.S. saw their earnings increase 5.5 percent last year, according to estimates released last month by the U.S. Census Bureau. Earnings fell 1.7 percent for the 96 million households in the bottom 80 percent -- those that made less than $101,583.

The recovery that officially began in mid-2009 hasn’t arrived in most Americans’ paychecks. In 2010, the top 1 percent of U.S. families captured as much as 93 percent of the nation’s income growth, according to a March paper by Emmanuel Saez, a University of California at Berkeley economist who studied Internal Revenue Service data. The earnings gap between rich and poor Americans was the widest in more than four decades in 2011, Census data show, surpassing income inequality previously reported in Uganda and Kazakhstan. The notion that each generation does better than the last -- one aspect of the American Dream -- has been challenged by evidence that average family incomes fell last decade for the first time since World War II."

Bloomberg
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Re: The United States of Inequality

Postby Dardedar » Thu Oct 04, 2012 8:58 pm

Joseph Stiglitz: 'The American Dream Has Become A Myth'

Rising from rags to riches isn't the American dream, it's an American fairytale, according to Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz.

"The American dream has become a myth," Stiglitz, an economics professor at Columbia University, told the German news magazine Der Spiegel in an interview published Tuesday. "The belief in the American dream is not supported by the data."

There's evidence to support such claims. The U.S. has less economic mobility than Canada and much of Western Europe, according to economic research cited by The New York Times. Seven in ten Americans that start out in the bottom fifth of family income stay in the lower class as adults, and more than six in ten Americans that start out in the top family income quintile stay in the upper class as adults, according to a July report by the Pew Charitable Trusts....

Stiglitz told Der Spiegel that in spite of anecdotes about poor people becoming rich, overall "the life chances of a young U.S. citizen are more dependent on the income and education of his parents than in any other advanced industrial country for which there is data."

LINK

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Re: The United States of Inequality

Postby Dardedar » Tue Jan 15, 2013 9:04 pm

Image

See also, The Theory of Everything

Having less wealth inequality is the sign of a highly functional society:

Excerpt:

"...almost every social problem common in developed societies - reduced life expectancy, child mortality, drugs, crime, homicide rates, mental illness and obesity - has a single root cause: inequality.

"It became clear," Wilkinson says, "that countries such as the US, the UK and Portugal, where the top 20% earn seven, eight or nine times more than the lowest 20%, scored noticeably higher on all social problems at every level of society than in countries such as Sweden and Japan, where the differential is only two or three times higher at the top."

The statistics came from the World Bank's list of 50 richest countries, but Wilkinson suggests their conclusions apply more broadly. To ensure their findings weren't explainable by cultural differences, they analysed the data from all 50 US states and found the same pattern. In states where income differentials were greatest, so were the social problems and lack of cohesion."

LINK
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Re: The United States of Inequality

Postby Dardedar » Mon Mar 04, 2013 12:09 am

An excellent video explanation of wealth inequality in the US, showing the difference between what people think it is, what is ideal, and the actual:

http://mashable.com/2013/03/02/wealth-inequality/

Six minutes well spent.

Update: Further info and data on the now super viral video:

This viral video is right: We need to worry about wealth inequality

LINK

Image

"This might all be cheering if the trends in wealth inequality were different than the trends in income inequality. But they’re not. As this graph from the Economic Policy Institute shows, the bottom 60 percent has seen their wealth shrink over the last 30 years, while the top 5 percent has seen huge gains:"

Image
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Re: The United States of Inequality

Postby Dardedar » Tue Apr 23, 2013 9:47 pm

And the trend continues:

A Rise in Wealth for the Wealthy; Declines for the Lower 93%
An Uneven Recovery, 2009-2011
by Richard Fry and Paul Taylor

OVERVIEW

"During the first two years of the nation’s economic recovery, the mean net worth of households in the upper 7% of the wealth distribution rose by an estimated 28%, while the mean net worth of households in the lower 93% dropped by 4%, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of newly released Census Bureau data."

Pew

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Re: The United States of Inequality

Postby Dardedar » Wed May 15, 2013 7:45 pm

315 charts on poverty and inequality

The OECD is out with its latest disposable income, poverty and inequality numbers for all its member states. The full data are here,
but it’s more fun to play around with the awesome interactive they created for the occasion, here:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/won ... sfied-yet/
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