I continue to hear and read stories about how the business analysts cannot explain the general feeling of unease that the public keeps feeling over the “Robust American Economy”. The keep quoting all of the indicators that they say should make us feel great about where the economy is going, and the polls keep showing that the public just isn’t buying it. Well if you read Mr. Zuckerman’s column this week and can’t figure it out, you are on the wrong side of the class divide…
USNews.com: Mortimer B. Zuckerman: Rich man, poor man: “Rich Man, Poor Man
Americans remain optimistic that it is possible the American dream has not receded entirely into the mists of history. We still have faith in it because, as a people, we are natural optimists. The hard reality, however, is that it is no longer possible for more than a very small minority to start out poor, work hard, and become well off. Our fabled equal-opportunity society is in hostage to a gathering of circumstances we must address with urgency, for the sake of social justice, but also to obtain the greatest benefits from the talents of our fellow citizens and maintain a cohesive community.
The generation that emerged from World War II enjoyed income growth fairly evenly spread throughout our entire population. The past 25 years tell an utterly different story. Median family incomes have risen by less than 1 percent a year–for a total of 18 percent overall–but median incomes for the top 1 percent have gone up more than 10 times faster–by an astounding 200 percent! As a nation, America has experienced extraordinary growth. From 1980 to 2004, our gross domestic product rose by almost two thirds, but when you factor in inflation, the wages of the typical earner actually fell–not a lot, but compare that with the top American earners, and the widening gap between the richest and poorest Americans becomes starkly clear: Among the top 20 percent of American earners, real incomes increased 59 percent.”
So this great experiment is really working wonderfully if you are on the right side of the income curve, but on the whole most workers haven’t experienced the benefits of this economy. Families are working harder, longer and at more jobs just to stay even. Energy costs are up, food costs are up, tuition costs are up, taxes are up (at least they are in every way that counts, unless your pay scale approaches that of a national politician (even discounting the perks of having family members paid above the median for ???), the only thing that isn’t up is pay…
“This year the top 10 percent of wager earners are projected to receive 45 percent of all household cash income, up from 40.6 percent in 2000.”
And that right there is the building problem in America. The Republican leadership of this country has shown and the figures prove that class warfare is alive and well in America. Every tax reform passed by this administration has been to increase the distribution of wealth as show above.
“…what about the average family in the 80 percent of the workforce who make up our rank and file? Incomes are actually slightly lower, after adjusting for inflation, than they were four years ago. This means that those Americans have effectively taken a pay cut since 2002, even as the economy has been growing by over 3 percent a year.”
And just who is going to pay for the infrastructure maintenance? Who will pay for the police on the streets? Who will pay for the streets? At the rate we are “reforming” our tax system, it won’t be that all important top 10%. They are the very people who are reforming us into the new serf society. But, when we all get hungry, we will be happy to work for the private companies who now will be doing all of the “public works” at a pay scale guaranteed to keep us in our place.
“If we look at net worth, as distinct from income, the growing inequality is equally manifest. Some 85 percent of the nation’s wealth now resides in the hands of the richest 15 percent of American families. The bottom 50 percent of families, on the other hand, claim only 2.5 percent of household net worth.”
After seeing all of these figures can anyone question the growing unease? Why should the 80% of America who do not see the benefits feel good about the economy?
Go read the entire column, there is good stuff here