Sunday, August 28, 2005

An oldie but a goodie #1

This is an old item that I'd been meaning to post since I first saw it but it kept slipping down the pile. Still, even though it's from August 3, it's worthwhile. It was a commentary written by Arnaud de Borchgrave, UPI Editor at Large, better known to some of the more gray-haired among us as author of "The Spike," a novel that tried to mainstream the idea that criticism of US foreign policy was the result of a Soviet disinformation campaign. The column in question was a rather disjointed, meandering effort but contained some noteworthy facts about the growing income gap.
In 2004, the median salary and bonus for CEOs soared 14.5 percent while paychecks for salaried employees averaged a 3.4 percent increase. ...

William J. McDonough, chairman of the Public Company Oversight Board since 2003, and president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank for the previous decade, called the yawning gap "the single most important issue" in the United States now. ... Income disparity is now wider than anywhere in the European Union or Japan, and can only be found in third world countries. ...

The gap has also set new records - and keeps widening. Over the past three decades, the share of national income going to the top 1 percent of households has almost doubled - from 7.7 percent to 14.7 percent. ... Sliced another way, between 1979 and 2000, real income of the poorest fifth rose 6.4 percent while the top fifth shot up 70 percent.
De Borchgrave properly mentions, as is often overlooked, that average family income has been sustained by the entry of tens of millions of women into the workforce, dramatically increasing the number of two-income families - but notes that this is a one-time boost. (There is, after all, a practical limit on the number of families that can be two-income.)

He closes with one observation that I think is supposed to be a warning but which I take as hopeful:
What is happening on Executive Row is guaranteed to produce a backlash of labor militancy as dissident unions open a drive for new members - with a whiff of class warfare grapeshot.
We can only hope.

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