Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Banana Republic of America

From the Huffington Post:

Income Inequality Is At An All-Time High: STUDY

Income inequality in the United States is at an all-time high, surpassing even levels seen during the Great Depression, according to a recently updated paper by University of California, Berkeley Professor Emmanuel Saez. The paper, which covers data through 2007, points to a staggering, unprecedented disparity in American incomes. On his blog, Nobel prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman called the numbers "truly amazing."

Though income inequality has been growing for some time, the paper paints a stark, disturbing portrait of wealth distribution in America. Saez calculates that in 2007 the top .01 percent of American earners took home 6 percent of total U.S. wages, a figure that has nearly doubled since 2000.

As of 2007, the top decile of American earners, Saez writes, pulled in 49.7 percent of total wages, a level that's "higher than any other year since 1917 and even surpasses 1928, the peak of stock market bubble in the 'roaring" 1920s.'"

Beginning in the economic expansion of the early 1990s, Saez argues, the economy began to favor the top tiers American earners, but much of the country missed was left behind. "The top 1 percent incomes captured half of the overall economic growth over the period 1993-2007," Saes writes.

Despite a rising stock market, largely growing employment and a historic housing boom things were not nearly so rosy for the rest of U.S. workers. This trend, according to Saez, only accelerated during the George W. Bush's tenure as President:

"...while the bottom 99 percent of incomes grew at a solid pace of 2.7 percent per year from 1993-2000, these incomes grew only 1.3 percent per year from 2002-2007. As a result, in the economic expansion of 2002-2007, the top 1 percent captured two thirds of income growth."


My comments there (and others'):

Welcome to the New Gilded Age or alternatively, if you like pulp fiction, The Banana Republic of America! The plutocracy finally got what it's wanted since Ronnie, turbocharged by Bush's corruption of democratic safeguards against greed, corruption, war profiteering, and disdain for the commons (including the health of our "same boat" Spaceship Earth and the common good (or Justice and Love).

Posted 04:04 PM on 08/16/2009

The Republican party is the shock troops of the plutocracy. Their only agenda is the transfer of wealth to the wealthy. They oppose Health Reform because it is a liberal social proram that will secure the loyalty of a new generation of Americans to the Democratic party. Their conservative "values" are a hoax. Their fiscal probity is a convenient pose now that they are out of power. The truth is that they have been waging a counter-revolution since the New Deal. They came close to taking over during the Depression. (Roosevelt didn't save us from Communism; he saved us from fascism).
Since the 1930's the ruling class has waged war from the top down. Looking at the graph above they had to wait a long time, but the economic dislocations that followed the Vietnam War created the opportunity to implement their strategy to concentrate wealth at the top. From 1975 on the real income of EVERYONE but the top one percent has fallen. Household incomes grew briefly from having two earners, but that stalled out by the early 90's. Only during the Clinton years did this trend reverse, which is why they did everything in their power to get him out of office.

Posted 08:49 PM on 08/16/2009

Clinton wasn't FDR though. He was more conservative than you think.

Also, Clinton presided over the dot com bubble which burst just as GWB got into office. The economy was good back then because it was inflated.
Posted 06:15 PM on 08/17/2009

You're right. Clinton was a DLC neoliberal corporatist, which is what I believe Obama to be, unfortunately.

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