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Back in December 2011 the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an international economic forum located in Paris,  published this report, Divided We Stand: Why Inequality Keeps Rising.  The report illustrates how income inequality in developed nations has grown dramatically in the last thirty years between the rich and poor, or as we refer to them today, the 1% and the 99%.  This report validates many critiques made of supply-side, trickle down economic theories by Anti-Capitalists and the Occupy Wall Street movement. These theories have without doubt failed the majority of us.
This post examines the growing alarm with the issue of income inequality in the few months since the release of the OECD report, including a look at the Obama Administrations recommended remedies in addressing the problem.

The OECD Report
First, you should take a look at this brief video from the OECD summarizing the report.

There is a pdf overview of the main findings of the report here:
Over the two decades prior to the onset of the global economic crisis, real disposable household incomes increased by an average 1.7% a year in OECD countries. In a large majority of them, however, the household incomes of the richest 10% grew faster than  those of the poorest 10%, so widening income inequality. Differences in the pace of income growth across household groups were particularly pronounced in some of the English-speaking countries, some Nordic countries, and Israel.1 In Israel and Japan, the real incomes of those at the bottom of the income ladder actually fell compared with the mid-1980s (Table 1).

In OECD countries today, the average income of the richest 10% of the population is about nine times that of the poorest 10% – a ratio of 9 to 1. However, the ratio varies widely from one country to another. It is much lower than the OECD average in the Nordic and many continental European countries, but reaches 10 to 1 in Italy, Japan, Korea, and the United Kingdom; around 14 to 1 in Israel, Turkey, and the United States;  and 27 to 1 in Mexico and Chile.


Here's that Table 1

And, here's another useful graph illustrating the same, how the the US average income of the richest 10% is now 14 times as much as the poorest 10%. Shame.
Selected Media Response to the Report
A review of the report from Bloomberg News. Rich-Poor Divide Is Widening, OECD Says concludes that income inequality is unraveling our societies.  
“The social contract is starting to unravel in many countries,” OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria said in a statement. “This study dispels the assumptions that the benefits of economic growth will automatically trickle down to the disadvantaged and that the greater inequality fosters greater social mobility.”
The prescription is not an immediate or simple one, but one we all know as common sense. We have to educate and train our populations to be able to maintain functional economies and societies.
“There is nothing inevitable about high and growing inequalities,” Gurria said. “Up-skilling the workforce is by far the most powerful instrument to counter rising inequality. The investment in people must begin in early childhood and be followed through into formal education and work.”
From the Guardian: Income inequality growing faster in UK than any other rich country, says OECD
The OECD warned about the rise of the top 1% in rich societies and the falling share of income going to poorer people.

This trend is especially pronounced in Britain, where the dramatic rise in inequality has been fuelled by the creation of a super-rich class. The share of the top 1% of income earners increased from 7.1% in 1970 to 14.3% in 2005.

Just prior to the global recession, the OECD says the very top of British society – the 0.1% of highest earners – accounted for a remarkable 5% of total pre-tax income, a level of wealth hoarding not seen since the second world war.

From the LA Times: OECD report cites increasing income inequality in U.S.

From the Washington Post: OECD report cites rising income inequality

Overall, inequality among working Americans has risen 25 percent since 1980, the report said. In 2008, the average annual income of the top 10 percent of Americans was $114,000, nearly 15 times higher than that of the bottom 10 percent.

That finding is consistent with other studies documenting the widening economic gulf, which has become a growing political issue in the United States.

The share of income going to the nation’s richest 1 percent more than doubled between 1980 and 2008, rising from 8 percent to 18 percent, the report said. The richest 1 percent of Americans make an average of $1.3 million in after-tax income, compared with $17,700 for the bottom 20 percent.

Meanwhile, the top federal income tax rate has fallen from 70 percent in 1981 to 35 percent, the report said.

My  own response to this report was the conclusion that it is long past time to reject the economic models imposed on this country since the 1980’s, brought to us courtesy of Republicans, Neo-Liberals among Democrats and the Finance Industry that subsidizes them. They have failed the majority of the people in this country. They have failed the majority of the people globally.

And what model could be used as an example to replace it? In the near term, I suggest we look to those countries that have low inequality, that score the best on the Corruptions Perceptions Index. I suggest we look there and think hard about how those systems could be modified to work here.

Prescriptions from the White House
I wondered if there would be a response from the White House on this report, or at least on this subject. In January of this year, one appeared, in a speech given by the Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors to the President, Alan B. Krueger.
The pdf of the speech may be found here, The Rise and Consequences of Inequality in the United States

After a brief historical review, Krueger presents similar conclusions to the OECD report, relative to the United States.

Because of these trends, the very top income earners have pulled much further ahead of everyone else… Not since the Roaring Twenties has the share of income going to the very top reached such  high levels.

The magnitude of these shifts is mindboggling. The share of all income accruing to the top 1% increased by 13.5 percentage points from 1979 to 2007. This is the equivalent of shifting $1.1 trillion of annual income to the top 1 percent of families. Put another way, the increase in the share of income going to the top 1% over this period exceeds the total amount of income that the entire bottom 40 percent of households receives.
A consequence of the momentous shifts in the income distribution that I have just documented is that the middle class has shrunk.

He then describes how in the same period that income inequality has increased, income mobility has decreased. As to causes contributing to income inequality he mentions variability in hourly earnings, the escalation of “skill biased technical change,” economist speak for automation.  He also notes the domination of the Financial Sector in the economy and its contribution to income inequality.  
In particular, it is clear that the proliferation of high salaries earned in the financial sector has contributed to the rise in income inequality. The proportion of people in the top 1% who were from the finance and real estate industry nearly doubled from 1979 to 2005. And in 2005, executives from the finance and real estate sector made one quarter of the income in the top 0.1 percent.
Other contributing factors or causes include globalization, (off shoring labor due to NAFTA and other free trade agreements), the decline in Union membership, and a tax code that increasingly favors the wealthy over everyone else.

As to consequences of income inequality Krueger suggests three likely trends: ongoing decrease in income mobility, Increase in overborrowing and debt along with a decrease in aggregate demand, and finally, less long term growth in the overall economy.

We all know these things here, being avid students of the collapse in 2008, but what are the Administrations suggested solutions? The current gap between the 1% and 99% is completely unsustainable. What does Krueger, via the Office of the President, suggest? He first suggests the Affordable Care Act will help the Middle Class.

… the ACA will help the middle class and those struggling to get into the middle class by lowering the growth of health care costs, by preventing those with
pre-existing conditions from being denied health insurance coverage, by creating exchanges for small businesses and lower income families to obtain health insurance at competitive rates, and by providing tax subsidies to small businesses and lower income workers to purchase insurance.
Second, he suggests the American Jobs Act. Third, he suggests regulating the Financial markets against excessive risk taking and corruption, factors that contributed to the problem of income inequality. Finally, he recommends ending tax cuts for the wealthy and adopting the principle behind the Buffett rule.

What do you think of these suggestions? What do you think would tackle the problems of income inequality in the immediate and ultimately and necessarily in the longer term? Do you think the Obama Administration via Krueger’s conclusions will make a positive impact? Enough of an impact?

It would be wonderful if we could hash through this issue here, because it is a long term and complex problem, a global problem, that will require a many faceted approach in my view. The more voices and opinions the merrier!

And before heading to comments, please take a look below at some other links and resources for you to review.

Income Inequality by State

Gini Index US 1920 – 2010 by President
Other Sites and Resources:
Income Inequality

Too Much: A Commentary on Excess and Inequality

List of US States by Gini coefficient

 U.S. Neighborhood Income Inequality in the 2005–2009 Period
U.S. Department of Commerce

Unbottled Gini Inequality is rising. Does it matter—and if so why?

It's the Inequality, Stupid: Eleven charts that explain what's wrong with America.

Income inequality gap in D.C. one of nation’s widest

And here are the solutions that I recommend, believing they will have a most beneficial effect  …

New Rules for Radicals: 10 Ways To Spark Change in a Post-Occupy World

And thanks very much for reading.  

Originally posted to Anti-Capitalist Meetup on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 04:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Income Inequality Kos and ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Great Post, cosmic debris. (8+ / 0-)

    I'll be back in a bit to comment.  Thanks for your hard work  in putting this together. Great references!

    Convict Bush, Cheney and their torture cabal. Support universal health care,unions, WikiLeaks and Occupy Wall Street! Time for a totally new, democratic economic system. Turn the corporations into worker cooperatives!

    by Justina on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 04:09:20 PM PDT

  •  We Didn't Bring the Middle Class Lifestyle to the (14+ / 0-)

    large working classes in the 40's and 50's by retraining the people. We did it by bringing them decent compensation for the work they were already doing.

    The big wave moving into college didn't really break till the 1960's, but the economic rise of the people stalled only about 8 years later. It wasn't education that did it, it was making the economy we had much more just.

    We seem to be going to enormous trouble to avoid looking at how we ourselves, almost entirely our own party, solved or handled these questions so very much more successfully.

    As to the current propositions, I think the party is a very conservative party which will manage the decline of the 99% a lot more compassionately than the Republicans.

    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 Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 04:10:47 PM PDT

    •  so, more of a soft than hard landing (12+ / 0-)

      With the Dems. Austerity with leaking water wings rather than an anchor? Still end up in the same place in the end, though.

      'Cause the fire in the street, Ain't like the fire in the heart/ And in the eyes of all these people, Don't you know that this could start, On any street in any town ~ FZ

      by cosmic debris on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 04:15:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Very observant response. But let's call the (8+ / 0-)

      redistribution of wealth toward the working class since the 1930s what it was -- that bugaboo word: "Class Struggle."  Admittedly if the U.S. had not become such an economic super power in WW11, it would have made  it much harder to fight for and gain the redistribution of wealth for the people, but it was still the people, primarily through union struggle and the New Deal who are responsible for the rise in the middle class (while you might call the New Deal Roosevelt's gracious contribution, it would never have happened if people had not risen up in response to the Depression and the ruling class had not felt obligated to put in place some structures (Fiar Labvor & Standards Act, Welfare, Wagner Act (collective bargaining), Social Security, etc.) to pacify the working class and prevent the possibility of the spread of communism. After WW11 we had further reforms (G.I. Bill, progressive tax code, eventually Medicare) all gained within a climate where there was a strong unioni movement in the States and a strong International pressure to prevent "communism" from becoming the dominant ideology.  More to say, but will read some more comments and add other comments later.

  •  Really well done piece Cosmic Debris ... (11+ / 0-)

    the stats are pretty well-known. Income and wealth inequality has been rising for quite a while in the advanced capitalist world. Moreover, this is part and parcel of economic policy and the lack of industrial policy in most countries. Dependence on the market rather than regulation and job protection, insistence that competition is more important than protecting people's incomes due to an acceptance of Say's Law, a lack of understanding of the fact that growth in most of the advanced capitalist world is demand driven or demand dependent rather than directly related to last period's profits.

    On the bottom of the income inequality we are seeing the social subsistence wage being undermined: part-time jobs are becoming more prevalent, sub-contracting means that guaranteed security of incomes is being undermined, the minimum wage is insufficient, the decoupling of wages and productivity due to the destruction of the manufacturing and industrial base. Also rising unemployment will lower the average or median wage.

    I also liked your discussion of the manner in which the problem has been addressed, all of which in my opinion are taking the wrong course. The term industrial policy is seen almost as socialism. Direct government job creation is not being undertaken either for unskilled or skilled labour. In fact, flexible wage economies (read as low paid, little protection) are the order of the day and are at the forefront of economic policy throughout the advanced capitalist world based upon the idea that in order to "compete" with emergent economies (e.g., Brazil, Russia, India, China) or even economies in the periphery we need to have wages that are sufficiently low.

    The ideology of neoliberalism rules economic policy decision-making; capital mobility and lack of protection for workers in terms of incomes and job security are the norm.

    Some reform policies that could help (non-exclusive):
    1) direct government job creation;
    2) gov't control and directed investment over industries, specifically investment in public controlled (where profitability criteria are less relevant) energy production and green manufactures;
    3) gov't control of banks to force them to invest to support both gov't industrial plans as well as private companies that want to invest but are unable to get funds for investment.
    4) increased minimum wages and guaranteed jobs; forced benefits for those on part-time work;
    5) free access to child-care facilities so that women can work in full-time work w/o worrying about their children.
    6) taxation on the upper incomes and taxes on wealth above a certain level (houses, land, stock portfolios, inheritance) to sustain the government spending and to reduce income and wealth increases on the top.

    "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

    by NY brit expat on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 04:32:04 PM PDT

    •  thanks for that thoughtful comment (11+ / 0-)

      I agree that nationalization and a more socialistic economic system would be a far more effective prescription for reducing income inequality and would lead to a more equitable and just society overall. Unfortunately, as Gooserock noted above, this is a conservative government and trends seem headed the other direction - more privatization, sub- contracting, part timing. The social contract is being shattered and there seems to be little interest in reforming and improving it. There seems to be a lot of interest in marginalizing it, and the people who need it most.

      'Cause the fire in the street, Ain't like the fire in the heart/ And in the eyes of all these people, Don't you know that this could start, On any street in any town ~ FZ

      by cosmic debris on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 04:42:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  the same thing is happening throughout (8+ / 0-)

        all the advanced capitalist world; austerity measures mean increased income inequality and so-called flexible wage economies. The attack on the state/public sector is due to:
        1) undercutting trade union power in the last bastion of trade unionism;
        2) leading to lower wages for those that used to work in that sector, which are disproportionally women;
        3) shifting over to private management and hence profitability criterion and competition those things performed  by the state sector using non-union labour with limited protection;
        4) shift towards part-timism meaning that incomes will fall, people doing several part-time jobs, all of which are low paid.

        We know the policies of privatisation will not work, they have not worked anywhere when they have been employed, we have seen what lowering incomes means and that means lower economic growth. Cheap imported goods will not be able to be purchased as incomes are falling. The biggest problem for the system (which our politicians and so-called economic specialists seem to be oblivious) is rising income and wealth inequality; that will cause the next crisis or continue the situation.

        The social contract has been being broken down for a while; what is happening is that the easy, but expensive, credit is no longer available to prop up effective demand which helped with growth and that is why there is no growth in the UK.

        "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

        by NY brit expat on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 04:54:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  This is going to be a tough nut to crack. (8+ / 0-)

    We have been, very intentionally, on a track towards creating a low-wage economy, and this will only get worse if we keep on going like we are going. Our addiction to cheap imported goods and the erosion of manufacturing has not helped.

    The Capitalists say that if you tax their profits more, they'll "stop creating jobs". Capitalists do not create jobs. We must disabuse ourselves of that notion. DEMAND creates jobs.

    All Americans need to prepare themselves for paying more for goods and services if we are going to correct this imbalance. Taxes on all kinds of profits and income which is in excess of say, ten times that of the lowest paid workers must be raised dramatically. The cap on FICA must be removed for workers and dramatically raised for businesses (there is a valid economic reason for extending some cap for employers) in order to keep SS and Medicare/Medicaid in good shape (I posit that universal single-payer healthcare would be a real possibility if we were to remove the income cap).

    These things are not popular, even among many Democrats. They are necessary, however.

    Santorum: Man on Dog; Romney: Dog on Car. Ren and Stimpy: Dog on Cat

    by commonmass on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 04:35:03 PM PDT

  •  Anti-capitalist meet-up diary schedule (5+ / 0-)

    18: specialKinflag
    25: geminijen
    1: diary from the admin
    15: northsylvania
    29: free jazz at high noon
    May 1:

    If you want to write a diary, please contact the group here, or Justina, NY brit expat or TPau or write to our group email account: As you can see we still have openings in April, all of May and June.  

    "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

    by NY brit expat on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 04:42:11 PM PDT

  •  Great diary, cosmic debrees! (8+ / 0-)

    This spells out the problems starkly and visually. You did a great job compiling them together.

    Pro Life??? Conservatives want live babies so they can raise them to be dead soldiers! - George Carlin - Please vote to send me to Netroots Nation

    by priceman on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 05:09:26 PM PDT

  •  Venezuela Has Greatly Reduced Inequality. (9+ / 0-)

    The United Nations’s Economic Commission for Latin American and the Caribbean ( ) just published a study which states:

    Venezuela has the lowest percentage (0.38 percent) of social inequality in Latin America, according a report released by the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

    The President of the National Institute of Statistics, Elias Eljuri, said on Monday that the ECLAC report shows that extreme poverty in Venezuela was reduced from 21 percent in 1999, when the Bolivarian Revolution began, to 6.9 percent, with a tendency to continue decreasing.

    The report, which was recently presented by ECLAC Executive Secretary, Alicia Barcena, also confirms that Venezuela has been able to reduce the gap of income distribution per capita by almost 15 percent.

    Reported in Correo del Orinoco and, in English, at (July, 2011).

    Clearly we need to create a new economic system here in the U.S. which will put human needs and aspirations ahead of private corporate profits.  President Hugo Chavez is providing a great model for the U.S. to follow. We desperately need it!

    Convict Bush, Cheney and their torture cabal. Support universal health care,unions, WikiLeaks and Occupy Wall Street! Time for a totally new, democratic economic system. Turn the corporations into worker cooperatives!

    by Justina on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 05:21:43 PM PDT

    •  The miasma here is so thick (6+ / 0-)

      With all the funny money greasing all the structural heels it seems so overwhelming to get from where we are to a more equitable one. We are in a total Catch 22 dilemma. Got to get the money out and close revolving doors to get less corrupt representation, but need less corrupt representation to get the funny money out of the system. Drives me nuts!

      I like the Scandinavian models a lot too, just not their winter climate. :)

      'Cause the fire in the street, Ain't like the fire in the heart/ And in the eyes of all these people, Don't you know that this could start, On any street in any town ~ FZ

      by cosmic debris on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 05:28:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Agreed, in fact, Latin America has been (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cosmic debris, Justina, TPau, aliasalias

      far less effected by the crisis that is besieging the advanced capitalist world and has already regained growth. Some of it is due to the demand by China and India for extraction industry products certainly (rather antithetical to what the old developmentalists of UNCLA argued way back when), but the introduction of elements of the social welfare state has helped. There is still large amounts of combined and uneven development throughout Latin America. But at least Chavez and other more progressive gov'ts are trying to address income and wealth inequality.  Brazil has rapidly moved to a sub-imperialist category over its neighbours.

      The problem is the capitalist system, the problem is the neoliberal agenda which has been holding strong and which has entangled its ideology in all economic policy of the advanced capitalist world; the policies of the IMF and World Bank which were used on Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Central and Eastern Europe are being used in the advanced capitalist world. Honestly, it is rapidly being demonstrated that democracy is not a major requirement of capitalism irrespective of the fact that bourgeois democracy and capitalism were born together in Europe; all gains are under attack here and standards of living are rapidly being eroded and promoted as necessary for the system. So the question obviously arises is the capitalist system necessary, if poverty and misery are requirements of the system, why do we need this system?

      "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

      by NY brit expat on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 05:37:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Brazil Has Over-Taken the U.K. in Economic Power. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cosmic debris, NY brit expat, TPau

        Can't remember exactly where I read it, but I think it was a fairly reliable source that reported that Brazil has just reached No. 6 in world ranking for economic production, taking over what was formerly the U.K.'s ranking.

        Convict Bush, Cheney and their torture cabal. Support universal health care,unions, WikiLeaks and Occupy Wall Street! Time for a totally new, democratic economic system. Turn the corporations into worker cooperatives!

        by Justina on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 06:00:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  This has been confirmed by many sites (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          indres, aliasalias, Greyhound

          that discuss economics; there is no question about it, although they do not discuss it much in the UK (it is only mumbled due to a compliant media and a government lost in ideology and delusion) where the government and opposition are seriously in denial about the fact that neoliberal economic policies have gotten us to this point and are continuing the slide. Remember that there was no reason to introduce the austerity measures in the UK, they were not mandated by the IMF, or the Troika (IMF, EU, ECB) as they have been forced down the throats of Greece, Spain, Ireland, Portugal and Italy. This is sheer idiocy and the policies are telling; the PM literally does not understand that the policies are not growth creating but rather growth decelerating. The policies are beginning to have an impact and the ignorance of economic advisers and politicians is appalling, the business groups are also lying and in denial. Things are going to get worse here, not better.  

          "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

          by NY brit expat on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 06:24:38 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I think Venezuala has the right idea... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cosmic debris, NY brit expat

      forget "jobs". Jobs are the rich renting you for a while instead of owning you as a slave outright.

      Instead, people should own their own work. This takes the whole question of wage disparity out of the picture and stops the race to the bottom in its tracks.

      De air is de air. What can be done?

      by TPau on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 06:08:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Job vs career (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NY brit expat, TPau

        Exactly. When you have a job you are on the clock, watching it like a hawk, renting yourself out. When you have a career you are in charge of your own worth. The clock becomes less relevant. William Morris, the English designer had a great deal to say on work vs craft

        'Cause the fire in the street, Ain't like the fire in the heart/ And in the eyes of all these people, Don't you know that this could start, On any street in any town ~ FZ

        by cosmic debris on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 06:16:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cosmic debris, NY brit expat, TPau

    The radical Republican party is the party of oppression, fear, loathing and above all more money and power for the people who robbed us.

    by a2nite on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 05:23:19 PM PDT

  •  I also liked that you listed the administration's (8+ / 0-)

    suggestions and what we think of them.  I actually think a number of ideas that Obama has attempted to introduce are interesting, though all of them have to be evaluated in terms of how they can reinvograte the strength of the working class so it can return to its role of forcing the owners of the means of production to help build the real economy with jobs where the workers get sufficient return on their labor (I am assuming a reform model, not a total solution).
    1)First, restoring a seriously progressive tax is critical so that there will be sufficient money to develop both infrastructure that can support, not only the needs of business and manufacturing, but social programs to increase the power of workers --better social security, healthcare, childcare and education. Although Obama has said he would do this in a very limited form, this will not really happen unless workers are in a better position to fight.
    This means restoring union rights in all their forms.  It also means forcing employers to keep jobs in the States instead of outsourcing for cheap global labor. While we cannot stop globalization, we can fight for taxes on the profit made by American companies for jobs that go abroad and closing all tax loopholes which allow money to be taken abroad.
    2)More importantly, we must restructure the entire economy to jobs that are tied to the public sector and cannot be easily transferred abroad but must be done locally.  In this case, the current government has made several suggestions which have merit: many greens jobs are designed to remain local, investing in peoples healthcare opens up a whole new industry which, by its nature tends to remain local, and recently, the government has started to invest in funding cooperatives (which tend to remain decentralized and remain local) through the SBA as part of its development of small businesses. Moreover, many of the green jobs and the efforts toward universal healthcare naturally gravitate to publicly funded government run jobs (especially if we start to develop the public option leading eventually to single payer healthcare which cannot be moved abroad).
    3)Regulations dismantling the bandits in the financial sector is also critical -- getting decent regulations, however, again, depends on workers gaining the power to hold the institutions accountable -- and at the moment we have neither economic power (unions have been weakened to the point of almost no power by outsourcing), political power such as voting  (the wealth of lobbyists, a corporate media, etc.) have made this option almost irrelevant; and militant power -- here we have occupy which has had some effect but already has been almost taken over by union bureaucrats and sold out lefties and, frankly, we are not willing as yet to pay the price the Egyptians are paying in terms of violent attacks on our citizens--we don't hold our occupy sites.  
    4)As for Obama -- he has watered down many of his best ideas --universal public healthcare, green jobs, financial regulation, increased progressive taxes -- and he won't support strengthening unions, is essentially a "free trader" which ultimatley supports outsourcing (he did well though with the auto industry)and has been not just compliant, but instrumental in privatizing what public institutions we do have (education).  
    5)Personally, I think we have to start occupying businesses that are going to leave to go abroad, turn them into coops and start using this as a tool to organize workers in a new and different way than unions that doesn't just tail after multinationals who are moving their jobs around the globe (we can do this through unions). Enough for tonight.
    Anyway, thanks for the opportunity to have a discussion on the real issues.

  •  Excellent Post Cosmic... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Geminijen, cosmic debris, indres

    A graph is worth a 1000 words.

    I was rather impressed by the work that the authors of The Spirit Level did several years ago. They showed that halving the economic inequity in society would:

    - Murder rates could halve
    - Mental illness could reduce by two thirds
    - Obesity could halve
    - Imprisonment could reduce by 80%
    - Teen births could reduce by 80%
    - Levels of trust could increase by 85%
    Equality Trust

    I just came back from Z-day and the movie  was actually reasonably good if long--3 hours. They discussed this phenomenon in detail. The problem is one of perception. The more stratified a culture grows, the fewer people on your level and the more you want to climb up a level. It creates chronic anxiety, unhappiness and illness. More egalitarian societies have less of all these things.

    The Venus Project is utopian in nature, but the documentary makes a reasonable case for leaving money in the dust and moving beyond hierarchy to an anarchist world. This would, of course, be the ultimate egalitarian society.

    More on Equality

    De air is de air. What can be done?

    by TPau on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 06:54:41 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for starting a great discussion. We owe it (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cosmic debris, NY brit expat

    to the way you laid out the material and outlined the possible solutions.  That is the makings of a great teacher! Are you a teacher

    •  Not a teacher by profession (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Geminijen, NY brit expat

      Though I do teach as part of my work. Mostly I've been a serial perpeptual student, though  :). Thanks to the ACM group for the opportunity to submit a piece. See you all next week!

      'Cause the fire in the street, Ain't like the fire in the heart/ And in the eyes of all these people, Don't you know that this could start, On any street in any town ~ FZ

      by cosmic debris on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 07:36:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  thanks for the diary (3+ / 0-)

        in terms of a solution:

        1. i don't expect the least movement from the obama administration as the  boss thinks education is the answer: it isn't.  not that we don't need more and better education, but it is not the answer.

        2. we need radically different perceptions of the world we are in.  we do not have enough work for all.  that is a structural reality.  instead of putting a solid floor under everyone with the inherent wealth technology has created, we redistributed the wealth upwards, essentially fracking every aspect of our civilization.

        3. taxation would be a short term fix that might get the engine running again, but we need entirely new ideas about how to run what we call 'the economy'

        throwing together ecological principles with ethical principles about humans taking care of other humans across the board is a necessary start.

        instead of a bureaucratic world with people pushing unnecessary paper through a set of immoral laws which simply legalize theft, we need a society which trains everyone to understand what is really necessary for a decent life.  making junk and selling it is a fundamentally immoral way of life.  whether it is junk bonds or plastic junk from china.

        all of us need to learn all the systems around us at an elementary level.  when we can all create self sufficient communities, then and only then, will we be in a position to know what we really need in the future.

        Donate to Occupy Wall Street here:

        by BlueDragon on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 08:24:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  of course this doesn't help (3+ / 0-)

    Whistleblower Lawsuits Against Banks Extinguished in Foreclosure Fraud Settlement

    I think my disgust over federal housing policy is just about complete. As you know, we’re still waiting for the actual terms of the foreclosure fraud settlement, more than one month after the announcement. But more information has dribbled out, not much of it to the good. Michael Hiltzik rounded up some of the more troubling issues. He mentions that OCC penalties will get folded into the settlement, basically charging $0 for their violations. The Federal Reserve did the same thing. He mentions the Ted Gayer study showing that only 500,000 borrowers will even be eligible for the principal reduction in the settlement, half of what HUD and other regulators promised. And he adds that the Treasury Department restored all HAMP incentive payments for servicers who failed to meet their obligations under the programs. As Hiltzik writes, “If the banks had shown as much forbearance toward their struggling borrowers as these three agencies have shown toward the banks, the foreclosure settlement wouldn’t have been necessary in the first place.”
    If there’s anything approaching accountability in the Obama Administration’s actions against the banks, I’m not seeing it. And as for that vaunted task force, co-chaired by Eric Schneiderman, check out this revealing but little-noticed piece of testimony before the Senate Banking Committee. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) questioned Attorney General Eric Holder about the size of the investigative panel. He cited Phil Angelides’ recent op-ed on the panel, known as the RMBS working group, and how Holder committed only 55 lawyers and investigators to the panel which is about half of the investigative force put just to the Dallas Bank Fraud Task Force during the savings and loan scandal, a much smaller fraud. He asked Holder if the Justice Department needed more funds to hire more investigators for the task force. And Holder said, “No,  we’re cool”:
    Sen. Brown also asked about extending the statute of limitations on some of these crimes (many statutes are nearing the end right now), and Holder said he’d have to talk to the prosecutors.
    In other words, this isn’t a priority for Justice at all. They could give a damn about accountability or deterrence. The Administration wants to hold some press conferences where they can tout relief for a couple individual homeowners, maybe with big novelty checks, while nobody who committed this total disaster that led to millions of foreclosures and millions more unemployed, the ones who broke the US residential housing market and engaged in a mass scheme to cover up their crimes, will in any way feel pain for any of this. That guarantees that we’ll be back here again, maybe in the near future. Because protecting corrupt and criminal banks only invites more corruption and crime.
    (emphasis mine)

    without the ants the rainforest dies

    by aliasalias on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 08:37:38 PM PDT

    •  add this to the list (4+ / 0-)

      Yet some troubling aspects that emerged when the settlement was unveiled Feb. 9 look even worse a month later. One is how federal regulators are helping the banks meet the costs of the settlement. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a major bank regulator, said on the very day of the settlement announcement that it was giving the five banks in the deal a pass on $394 million in penalties it would otherwise have assessed them for shoddy, and shady, mortgage and foreclosure practices.
      It turns out that two other federal regulators quietly took similar steps. The Federal Reserve Board rolled $766.5 million of penalties it assessed the banks for unsafe and unsound mortgage practices into the foreclosure settlement. And just last week, the Treasury Department announced that it would pay BofA and JPMorgan Chase some $171 million in incentives it had withheld since June because of the banks' shortcomings in dealing with homeowners under the government's chronically underperforming Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP.
      Another murky question involves the number of homeowners who may be helped with mortgage relief. Initial estimates from the state and federal negotiators placed that figure at 2 million families. This always seemed a bit on the high side, especially since mortgages owned by the government-sponsored companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which hold more than half the nation's underwater mortgages, aren't participating in the deal.
      Brookings Institution analyst Ted Gayer last week concluded that other carve-outs will limit the number to 500,000 of the nation's 11 million underwater borrowers. Among other points, he observes that the five participating banks service only 55% of all mortgages.

       The settlement's worst flaw may be that it's a lost opportunity. It could have been used to improve HAMP, say by mandating that the banks offer HAMP-eligible borrowers principal forgiveness, which studies show is the most effective way to keep borrowers out of foreclosure.

      without the ants the rainforest dies

      by aliasalias on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 08:49:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't think we can expect anything else from the (4+ / 0-)

        government as long as the CEO's and 1% have control of our society through their wealth.  We somehow have to retake control of our lives and people power, if that is still possible and their control has not become too complete.  
        I made several suggestions above for reform, but to actually change the economy, we have to start from the ground up and be willing to pay the price of real change which is generally quite high and is usually called revolution.
        From what I've seen, we are not yet ready to pay that price (either the nonviolent resistence or armed version)yet.  Guess we're not really uncomfortable enough yet.  Who knows -- it might come from outside the U.S.

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