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From the WSJ:

The richest Americans' share of national income has hit a postwar record, surpassing the highs reached in the 1990s bull market, and underlining the divergence of economic fortunes blamed for fueling anxiety among American workers.

The wealthiest 1% of Americans earned 21.2% of all income in 2005, according to new data from the Internal Revenue Service. That is up sharply from 19% in 2004, and surpasses the previous high of 20.8% set in 2000, at the peak of the previous bull market in stocks.

•  Widening Gap: The wealthiest Americans' share of national income has hit a postwar record, surpassing the highs reached in the 1990s bull market, and highlighting the divergence of economic fortunes blamed for fueling anxiety among American workers.

•  Behind the Numbers: Scholars attribute rising inequality to several factors, including technological change that favors those with more skills, and globalization and advances in communications that enlarge the rewards available to "superstar" performers whether in business, sports or entertainment.

•  Political Fallout: The data pose a potential challenge for President Bush and the Republican presidential field. They have sought to play up the strength of the economy and low unemployment, and the role of Mr. Bush's tax cuts in both. Democrats may use the data to exploit middle-class angst about stagnant wages.

The bottom 50% earned 12.8% of all income, down from 13.4% in 2004 and a bit less than their 13% share in 2000.

So -- why is this information important?  Why in the world should we even care about this information?

Ask Marie Antoinette.  I seem to recall her losing her head over economic issues.  (But, she did make a great dessert, didn't she)

Seriously, here's a simple economic fact: the wider the prosperity the better the economy is.  Think about this intuitively.  Suppose you're in an economy with 100 people.  5 people are dong well and the other 95 people are doing fair or poorly.  What are the chances of an economic expansion lasting for any period of time?

Now, let's increase the size of the prosperity.  Suppose 50-60 people are doing well.  The chances of that economy expanding are much better because there are more people who can buy and sell stuff.  In other words -- this really isn't rocket science.

There is also the issue of political stability.  Ever wonder how someone like Castro or Chavez could come into power?  I was watching Fox news sometime over the last 6 months and the round table was discussing Latin Americas turn to the left politically.  The commentators all had the basic  opinion that Latin America had tried this before and it didn't work.  If they wanted to try it again, so be it.  But absent from the discussion was a question of why it had happened.  No one addresses the fact that Latin America had high amounts of income inequality and that might have something to do with the rise of socialistic/communistic politics.

One of the ways to measure income inequality is the Gini Index.  From Wikipedia:

The Gini coefficient is a measure of statistical dispersion most prominently used as a measure of inequality of income distribution or inequality of wealth distribution. It is defined as a ratio with values between 0 and 1: the numerator is the area between the Lorenz curve of the distribution and the uniform distribution line; the denominator is the area under the uniform distribution line. Thus, a low Gini coefficient indicates more equal income or wealth distribution, while a high Gini coefficient indicates more unequal distribution. 0 corresponds to perfect equality (e.g. everyone has the same income) and 1 corresponds to perfect inequality (e.g. one person has all the income, while everyone else has zero income). The Gini coefficient requires that no one have a negative net income or wealth.

According to the CIA's World Fact Book, the US hada GINI index of 45 in 2004.  When you look at this chart from the CIA's World Fact Book you'll notice that most European countries have a lower GINI index.

In addition, other problems emerge from income inequality.

New Census data show that in 2006, both the number and the percentage of Americans who are uninsured hit their highest levels since 1999, the first year for which comparable data are available, with 2.2 million more Americans — and 600,000 more children — joining the ranks of the uninsured in 2006.

The new Census figures also show that while the overall poverty rate declined slightly (from 12.6 percent to 12.3 percent) between 2005 and 2006, the decline was largely concentrated among the elderly.   The poverty rates for children and for working age adults remained statistically unchanged as compared to 2005, and well above their levels in 2001, when the last recession hit bottom

Similarly, while median income rose modestly (by 0.7 percent, or $356) for households in general, this merely brought median income back to where it stood in the 2001 recession year.  In addition, median income for working-age households — those headed by someone under 65 — remained more than $1,300 below where it stood when the recession hit bottom.

Center executive director Robert Greenstein noted that, "Five years into an economic recovery, the country has yet to make progress in reducing poverty, raising the typical working-age family’s income, or stemming the rise in the ranks of the uninsured, compared even to where we were in the last recession.  The new figures on median income and poverty are the latest evidence that the economic growth of the past few years has been very uneven, with the gains being concentrated among those who already are the most well off.  Too many middle- and low-income families are not sharing in the gains."

The bottom line is pretty straightforward.  The rich ARE getting richer.

Originally posted to bonddad on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 05:10 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Interesting is the fact that yesterday (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Melody Townsel, Owllwoman, junta0201

    was the most bizarre distribution day on Wall Street. Some top stocks like Bidu got butchered. It won't take many more for a recession barring a follow-through.

    We live in the age of the elected dictatorship and liberal states without democracy: write accordingly.

    by Nulwee on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 05:12:03 AM PDT

    •  That's Bai*du (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Melody Townsel

      but its ticker symbol is (BIDU).  This was a stock everyone was going gaga for, but lost 10%.  Pretty substantial loss to all the late-buyers.

      We live in the age of the elected dictatorship and liberal states without democracy: write accordingly.

      by Nulwee on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 05:13:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Also (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        junta0201

        the class implications of a stock's technicals/performance are enormous, to tie this in more directly.  The early buyers had the hundreds of analysts and assisstants to get in while the best profits were to be made.

        Late buyers are more likely to have, at best, a broker, who is not necessarily a financial demi-god, and at worst, little to no financial expertise but a lot of disseminated propaganda from Mad Money or WSJ.

        When the same thing happened in 1998 and 2000, people blamed Clinton for private organizations overspeculating and upper-middle to lower-middle class guys taking a beating.  (The rich did too, they just had better fire insurance).

        We live in the age of the elected dictatorship and liberal states without democracy: write accordingly.

        by Nulwee on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 05:26:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  You would think that for all of their charts and (9+ / 0-)

    graphs all of the talking heads (including the economists!) would understand what you've said:

    The wider the prosperity the better the economy is.

    I'm pretty dumb and I get it.  

    VEBO...Vote Every Bum Out

    by ShainZona on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 05:12:42 AM PDT

    •  The USA desperately needs a tax on wealth (5+ / 0-)

      to restore balance in our society and to fund things the republiKKKans and other corporatists have neglected like education, the infrastructure, recreating our industrial base, and the environment.

      •  It needs to looked at earned income... (7+ / 0-)

           The average wage earner probably earns 98% of his income from a working wage. Even if he has been with a company for 20 years and slowly moved up the ladder, he sees his income taxed at progressively higher %'s. This works well as far as it goes because it it a progressive tax.
           The problem is that the 1% who earn 21.2% of all income in that year earn much of it on paper. They produce nothing. They capitalize other ventures through the market, hedge funds, or direct investment into the company. More and more of this capital is going overseas and not helping growth in the US. No expansion in the US shuts the door to any "trickle down" if there ever was any.
           The solution is to increase the progressive nature of the earned income for those making $200,000/year and also raise the capital gains for those who specialize in paper gains. Paper gains from investments in markets that are considered international and are not creating at least 1/2 of their new jobs in the US, should have a surtax of 10% even on top of the more hefty rates for capital gains.
           Of course, we have all seen the inability of both Democrats and Republicans to stop the bleed with managers of hedge funds who have their income postponed and treated as income at the 15% rate. This is bull. We have corporate mercenaries fighting our war in Iraq while hedge fund managers continue to shift the inequality by lobbying Congress. Congress is the weak link in this system. No one has a spine!

        Eisenhower- "We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage."

        by NC Dem on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 05:52:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Bill Gates Sr. is With You nt (0+ / 0-)

        We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

        by Gooserock on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 09:26:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  One I DON'T get: (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      linnen, Spoc42, ShainZona, red 83

      Scholars attribute rising inequality to several factors, including technological change that favors those with more skills

      Am I to understand that some of the rise in the proportion of wealth appropriated by the top 1% is due to their superior marketable skills? Aside from the skills needed to write and perform runaway #1 hit songs, or run a giant corporation into the ground, exactly what job skills will get a schmuck like me into the top 1% of earners?
      I really would like to know.

      Osama Bin Laden's a punk. He can only kill me. Cheney/Bush scares me far worse. Mission Accomplished.

      by kamarvt on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 07:58:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  No, you don't understand (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      junta0201

      The Bush Economic Plan is working exactly as planned.  The economy is not being targeted, the wealth of Bush's "base" is.  

      Most of the economists work for the people that are getting richer.

      With all his noble qualities...man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin--Darwin

      by MadScientist on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 08:40:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Another issue is ignorance of history (7+ / 0-)

    I don't know what it is about this country, but we just don't seem to know or care about our own history. Republicans get away with talking about their policies -- which have enabled this massive inequality -- without any discussion of how unions, regulations and watchdogs made it possible for us to live with much greater equality in the post-war period.

    It's almost cliche to repeat the line about being doomed to repeat history, but we're doing precisely that right now.

    Life's too short to waste time on hate, bullshit or self-importance.

    by VetGrl on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 05:16:23 AM PDT

    •  I keep thinking back to FDR's fireside chats (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VetGrl

      et me illustrate with an example. Take the cotton goods industry. It is probably true that ninety per cent of the cotton manufacturers would agree to eliminate starvation wages, would agree to stop long hours of employment, would agree to stop child labor, would agree to prevent an overproduction that would result in unsalable surpluses. But, what good is such an agreement if the other ten per cent of cotton manufacturers pay starvation wages, require long hours, employ children in their mills and turn out burdensome surpluses? The unfair ten per cent could produce goods so cheaply that the fair ninety per cent would be compelled to meet the unfair conditions. Here is where government comes in. Government ought to have the right and will have the right, after surveying and planning for an industry to prevent, with the assistance of the overwhelming majority of that industry, unfair practice and to enforce this agreement by the authority of government. The so-called anti-trust laws were intended to prevent the creation of monopolies and to forbid unreasonable profits to those monopolies. That purpose of the anti-trust laws must be continued, but these laws were never intended to encourage the kind of unfair competition that results in long hours, starvation wages and overproduction.

      http://www.mhric.org/...

      from Fireside chats of FDR

      We've gone back in time.

  •  Marching to Versailles (9+ / 0-)

     title=

    Good diary,bondadd!

    ...Operation Rota is Closed... New Blog Coming Soon With Pictures!...

    by nowheredesign on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 05:19:13 AM PDT

  •  Sigh-what goes up must come down (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NC Dem, Nulwee, Owllwoman, Abra Crabcakeya

    right? Come on Mother Nature, Father of the Dollar- whoever you are it's time to upright the apple cart.

    These reminders are getting painful. I'm running low on rant and rage energy.

    "Time is for careful people, not passionate ones"

    by roseeriter on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 05:19:42 AM PDT

  •  But, Bonddad. Don't the rich deserve it? (15+ / 0-)

    I mean, they're better than us -- or, certainly, better-educated and better-dressed. They definitely deserve better healthcare. And the benefit of the doubt on all policy matters.

    I mean, stuff like Daddy's ties to the Bin Ladens. Granddaddy's business relationships with the Nazis. I mean, that's the stuff of strong moral fiber, and definitely deserves to be rewarded.

    "Oh, TV. Is there anything you can't do?" -- Homer Simpson

    by Melody Townsel on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 05:19:46 AM PDT

    •  the "scholarship" actually is ideology (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Spoc42, junta0201

      Interesting that although "scholars" attribute rising economic inequality to "several factors," not one of the articulated factors is the obvious answer: a conscious set of priorities pursued, or not pursued, by our government.  Who were the scholars consulted here, and does anyone really believe that our economy favors "those with more skills"?  How is inheriting money a skill?  Even if skills matter, what's happened is that certain skills--such as making or wielding a weapon, creating a quant fund model, and outright scamming in the name of God--are being valued, and others are not.

      I'm also fascinated by the emerging idea that an economy can grow, or even sustain itself, based largely on luxury consumption.  I read once that a certain professional boxer had 200 pairs of jeans.  Were he to be alive, Milton Friedman probably would tell me that this is a fully acceptable substitute for 100 people, each with two pairs.  But I think consumption for consumption's sake reaches a point of rapidly diminishing returns even for Paris Hilton.

      •  the economy of cancer (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MizC

        I agree with you on the ideology passing as scholarship - see my comment above.

        This idea of sustaining the economy on luxury consumption is much like cancer growth. It is growth without purpose, without benefit for the host. Capitalist economies, again like cancer, must constantly grow. Economies frought with barriers to the many, and defined by an emphasis on management and movement of wealth, not the creation of it, become malignant.
        And here we are.

        Osama Bin Laden's a punk. He can only kill me. Cheney/Bush scares me far worse. Mission Accomplished.

        by kamarvt on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 08:05:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  And the rest of the people (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Melody Townsel

      are all lazy and ignnorant and need to pull their selves up by their  bootstraps.

      With all his noble qualities...man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin--Darwin

      by MadScientist on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 08:42:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Haves and Have-Mores of America . . . (6+ / 0-)

    are sitting atop the most monstrously huge, wealthy, rich, powerful, monied, treasure-stuffed economy in world and human history.

    They've no reason to want to slow it down, or to climb down from there. They see no downside whatsoever to riding this thing right into the sunset.

    When you're hot -- you're hot!

    "The rule of the wise must be absolute . . . rulers ought not to be responsible to the unwise subjects." ~ Professor Leo Strauss

    by antifa on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 05:23:52 AM PDT

    •  Life is great when you're a rich person in a poor (6+ / 0-)

      country.

      Never play cards with a magician.

      by Hens Teeth on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 05:51:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The problem with today's economy is (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TracieLynn, antifa, junta0201

      the same problem with mining techniques at the Crandall Canyon mine. In extracting more tax money from the supports (the lower and middle classes) the economy will eventually collapse crushing a substantial number of people. Meanwhile those who benefited from the workers will merely shrug, mutter something about doing better next time and moving on taking no responsibility and suffering no consequences. This country suffered once this way during the Depression and we survived by moving toward equality instead of "every man for himself". We have lost sight of that and I hope it won't take another crash to make people realize this.

      Let me do right to all, and wrong no man. - Dr. C. Savage, Jr.

      by pwrmac5 on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 06:13:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I want to operate a guillotine (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TracieLynn, pwrmac5

    No class animosity , no , not at all. Hard to imagine how people who are really poor , who have been kept out of reaching distance of decent jobs and lifeways for generations must feel.

  •  I really do not have a problem with this (0+ / 0-)

    and here is why.  Let's say that everyone's income increases at 12% a year (for sake of argument let's assume this is a real gain).  In six years everyone will double their income, so the guy making a million now makes two, while the guy making $25k now makes 50k.  So, income inequality increased, but yet everyone is quite a bit better off.  Now, what we have here is not the scenario I outlined, as the bottom is not increasing as fast as the top, but in general I do not have an issue with income inequality, just this particular version of it that Bush has propagated.  

    •  If Income Were Not Declining (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TracieLynn, Owllwoman, Hens Teeth, MizC

      It could be right to argue that one cannot expect the increase of wages and living standards to keep an even pace under these models.  But over 6 years middle class families have declined in purchasing power by over 1 thousand bucks ignoring the real estate bust, commodity inflation, rising health care.

      We live in the age of the elected dictatorship and liberal states without democracy: write accordingly.

      by Nulwee on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 05:29:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Not so... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TracieLynn, New Deal democrat, MizC

      if everyone's income doubled, fell by 50%, or was changed by an arbitrary constant for that matter, the Gini coefficient would not change. It is (I am pretty sure) scale-invariant. It wouldn't be much use otherwise.

      Second point is, well, as the previous commentter noted, the problem is that the observed rate of change in income has been far from equally distributed.  It's very high for the very rich, and close to 0 for everyone else. The result is increasing disparity, which is what the Gini coefficient measures.

      To commemorate a past event, you kill and eat an animal. It's a ritual sacrifice. With pie. (Anya)

      by Boreal Ecologist on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 05:36:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I would like to know that for sure (0+ / 0-)

        as I believe that the Gini-coefficient is scale relevant (it would almost have to be to measure what it claims) and thus my example holds.  And once again, if you read my WHOLE post you will see that I agree that what we have here is not the example I outlined, but a situation where only the wealthy are gaining ground (especially in light of the housing downturn).

        •  Gini scale (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Snarcalita

          0 = uniformly distributed wealth.
          1 = all wealth in the hands of one person.

          Here is how the US stacks up to other countries:

          Cheers.

          "When the going gets tough, the tough get 'too big to fail'."

          by New Deal democrat on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 05:50:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Can you enlarge this? n/t (0+ / 0-)

            -7.75, -7.64 www.politicalcompass.org "When the intellectual history of this era is finally written, it will scarcely be believable." -- Noam Chomsky

            by scorponic on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 05:52:30 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Not w/o screwing up the web page (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              scorponic

              I cribbed it off of Russ Winter.  Google his name and "gini" and you should find the source post.

              Cheers.

              "When the going gets tough, the tough get 'too big to fail'."

              by New Deal democrat on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 05:57:50 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Save it to your harddrive... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              bronte17, MizC

                  and then view it. It is full page and easier to read.
                  Great information, thanks.
                  Bonddad, many of your posts are a little beyond me and I have a fairly keen business sense, but this one is excellent and easy to understand and feel. I read most of your diaries and have learned lots. Keep up the great work!

              Eisenhower- "We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage."

              by NC Dem on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 06:03:27 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  So my premise is correct then (0+ / 0-)

            if everyones income doubles then the Gini goes up (ie worse distribution).  In other words, this scale is only somewhat relevant, as it shows where the wealth ends up, but is not really a factor of income.

          •  It looks like the US and China... (0+ / 0-)

                are headed in the wrong direction and Norway is leading the way on equality.

            Eisenhower- "We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage."

            by NC Dem on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 05:58:45 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Gini coefficient or index is scale independent: (0+ / 0-)

          So says Wiki.:

          Scale independence: the Gini coefficient does not consider the size of the economy, the way it is measured, or whether it is a rich or poor country on average.

          And, I did read your WHOLE post, SilverOz. I just only replied to part of it. No offense intended.

          To commemorate a past event, you kill and eat an animal. It's a ritual sacrifice. With pie. (Anya)

          by Boreal Ecologist on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 08:34:13 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Gini coefficient is deficient (0+ / 0-)

            The Gini coefficient requires that no one have a negative net income or wealth.

            I've spent years in which I had a negative net income and a goodly portion of the American middle class rignt now has negative wealth, once you figure in the credit card balances and negative equity in their houses.

            With all his noble qualities...man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin--Darwin

            by MadScientist on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 08:47:14 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Gini approximation not deficient in this context: (0+ / 0-)

              As used for measuring income distribution, the approximation is probably not too bad, if the number of individuals with consistent negative incomes is  small and if their apparent incomes (as used in the calculation) are not concentrated at the high end.  In the figure quoted above, for example, it is income that is used, not wealth.

              In effect, the presence of individuals with negative wealth or income would bias the interpretation of the statistic, depending on how the invalid cases were treated. If they were dropped or set to 0, which would the naive and simple hack, I would expect the measure to report distributions more equitable than they really were.

              In the context of this thread, we are discussing use of the statistic to assess changes in equity over time. I think it is still useful for that purpose, because if it reports a trend to increasing concentration, than that trend is probably real even if the assumption of non-negativity are violated. I am speaking as a practical matter, of course, wherein the distribution of negative incomes would be concentrated at the low end of the scale. In other words, although one could not doubt construct counter examples, I bet the trends are telling the truth in this instance.

              To commemorate a past event, you kill and eat an animal. It's a ritual sacrifice. With pie. (Anya)

              by Boreal Ecologist on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 09:02:39 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  I beg to differ here (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Snarcalita, junta0201

      Go over to Economist's View and have a look.  Median household income is STILL below where it was in 1999.  100% of the gains since then have gone to the wealthy.
      Secondly, it isn't productive manufacturing or even broadly corporate activities which have minted the new wealth:  it is virtually all "financial capitalism" on Wall Street.

      BTW, YoY Producer prices back up at 4.4%.  As I have been predicting here for several months, inflation is returning.  The Fed is in a box, and I am not sure their next set of moves won't be tightening.

      Cheers.

      "When the going gets tough, the tough get 'too big to fail'."

      by New Deal democrat on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 05:46:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I do (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NC Dem, Snarcalita

      You said it yourself:

      So, income inequality increased

      To show you what this looks like in real life, here is a comment from TXsharon on Bonddad's diary about health insurance yesterday:

      We just got our annual merit raises.  My boss' raise was more than my yearly income.

      Edwards/Obama 2008

      by MizC on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 06:00:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Oz, you have rendered a perfect description (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Snarcalita

      of Reagan's "trickle-down" theory of economics.  Today, we are just lacking the trickle, otherwise everything would be fine.

      With all his noble qualities...man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin--Darwin

      by MadScientist on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 08:44:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  That's nothing, you now need $1.3 billion to be (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nulwee, Owllwoman

    considered super rich, up from $100 million in the early 80s:

    http://www.dailykos.com/...

  •  What bothers me the most is that (6+ / 0-)

    food and gas are not figured into this mess. Everyone has to eat. If food takes up a quarter of my weekly income I have much less left for the other needs. I either ditch the food and risk health or I crunch elsewhere.

    "Though the Mills of the Gods grind slowly,Yet they grind exceeding small."

    by Owllwoman on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 05:40:24 AM PDT

  •  Lessons Unlearned (4+ / 0-)

    It took centuries of social unrest and upheaval for the Western elite to learn that a more fair distribution of wealth and income was in their long-term interest, since it made the society -- and their hold on wealth -- more stable.  That lesson has been forgotten in the last 30 years, but may yet be re-learned...the hard way.

    -7.75, -7.64 www.politicalcompass.org "When the intellectual history of this era is finally written, it will scarcely be believable." -- Noam Chomsky

    by scorponic on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 05:46:10 AM PDT

  •  Why the rich should worry about inequality (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TracieLynn, roseeriter, MizC

    Bonddad asks:

    So -- why is this information important?  Why in the world should we even care about this information?

    I think this is the wrong question. A more important question is "why should the rich care about inequality?" Because, after all, in our political system something that is a problem for the rich stands a chance of getting fixed.

    And it turns out that increasing inequality is bad for your health even if you are rich. There's a mass of data showing this in "The Impact of Inequality" by Richard Wilkinson, a must-read book. For example, from Income inequality and mortality in metropolitan areas of the United States by Lynch et al. They conclude:

    Higher income inequality is associated with increased mortality at all per capita income levels. Areas with high income inequality and low average income had excess mortality of 139.8 deaths per 100,000 compared with areas with low inequality and high income. The magnitude of this mortality difference is comparable to the combined loss of life from lung cancer, diabetes, motor vehicle crashes, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, suicide, and homicide in 1995.

    Note in particular that mortality is increased at all per capita income levels. This means that the ever-increasing inequality is making even the people at the top much sicker. You would think that since they are smart enough to be so rich they could figure this out.

    •  Interesting (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MizC

      Why is income inequality a harzard to the health of the rich? Is it just that the crime rate goes up, or is it because a less equitable society is less productive, and hence worse health care for all, even the rich????

      •  Diseases stick to species (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ahianne, greenboy

        In general diseases like to stick with one or a few species.  In the case of humans, a country with a high Gini score means a lot of people in poverty getting sick, and getting inadequate care.  Instead of curing a disease, they suffer with it longer, increasing the odds of a nasty mutation or spread to those around them.

        The rich catch the diseases from the hired help, the poor catch them from all their friends.

        That's just one factor of course.  Add in the Marie Antoinette effect for a few murders, the general increase in random crime from poverty stricken areas, and a few nurses that don't really care if the rich bastard in room 3 gets better.

        It's a thousand pin pricks of death.  Income inequality doesn't kill through a single factor.  It subverts the society until it tips through revolution or dies with a whimper.

    •  This one is complicated... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tam in CA

         For the last two years I have been looking at the decreasing health level in the US and the rising disease level. A recent New England Journal of Medicine article shows that children born today will live shorter and more diseased lives than we do/did. Why? It is not income or wealth. As you said it is hitting all of us.
         In a simple version, I blame it on corporate control of our food supply and government's influence on it through farm programs that support corn and soy products to the almost exclusion of vegetables- beans, carrots, broccoli, spinach, peppers and  fruits- apples, plums (prunes), oranges, figs, etc.
         The FDA is criminal in its support of the fattening food industry that now has 2/3's of us in the overweight category and half of these are obese (over 30 on the BMI index).
         I'm not an attorney nor a health degree person but I would love to work in an arena that holds the government accountable for the deaths they are causing with our current food pyramid and the unhealthy life style it brings. Exercise is critical to our effort but with so many of us working two/three jobs to pay health care for a family, it just leads us into a deeper hole.  

      Eisenhower- "We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage."

      by NC Dem on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 08:42:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  lives of toxic desperation? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NC Dem
        Is it possible that the all-consuming need to get rich that drives eliminating all those "bureaucratic regulations" on "free markets" is causing us to have more tainted food, more exposure to carcinogens, more polluted water supplies? Between globalization of food and supplement suppliers, factory farming in the US, genetically modified crops, etc., we could be massively poisoning ourselves for the profits of the few (some of whom may ironically end up poisoning themselves in the process too).
  •  Not much different (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NC Dem

    I was surprised with how little this distribution has changed since Bill Clinton was in office.   It would seem that both parties tolerate a high degree of inequality in the system.  The differences lie more in the amount of help each party is willing to provide the less fortunate.

    •  Nafta (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      junta0201

      Free trade agreements with countries that have lower currency values or less worker rights, or even a higher gini score, will cause ours to go up over time.  That could be avoided with legislation, but it would involve enforcing matching regulations on businesses in both countries...That'll happen right after the flying pigs land on the moon.

      If we were only losing to Mexico, our economy could soak it up with minimal losses.  The additional drains from India, China etc are what really put the hammer to our lower classes.  At this point, even Canada is hurting us to some extent.

  •  Go Wealthiest 1%! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MizC

    The rest of you lazy slobs ought to be ashamed of yourselves, knuckle under and start working to earn your share of the money! You're not pulling your weight!

    Look--the richest are proof that we don't need no stinking SCHIP. Stop whining and go earn some serious millions like they do!

    David Broder commented that this was "terrible news, for Democrats".

    by AdmiralNaismith on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 07:59:45 AM PDT

  •  Hey Bondad, an off topic question (0+ / 0-)

    I was having a discussion with my wife the other day, and I found out that her company keeps separate computers for their US and foreign banks.  Not just because of different location, but because any bank server that sends funds into the US has to allow the IRS and Homeland security to snoop around.

    Ok, no big deal there, all banks do this I found out.  What made it a bit more interesting was that there are a lot of international banks that intentionally will not deal with the US because of it.  Either they don't want the US snooping in their books, or their own local laws wouldn't allow it.  

    That's what got me thinking.  Bush threw down the patriot act and said we can snoop in anyones bank records.  Other countries have existing laws refusing to allow international access to their bank servers (Luxemburg restricts even IT access to the servers to within the country).  It's probably a bit late in the game, but what kind of impact if any has there been from this that you know of?  Or is this all old hat because of the IRS always keeping track of what money comes into the US?

    Mainly I'm curious if this is hurting our companies by restricting access to overseas banking options.

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