Wednesday, January 27, 2016

235.7 - Income inequality is growing, hideous, and immoral

Income inequality is growing, hideous, and immoral

Another topic I haven't talked much about of late is the economy. And here just a few figures show everything that's wrong.

Fifty-six percent of Americans have less than $1,000 combined in their checking and savings accounts; a majority of us are living paycheck-to-paycheck.

Furthermore, almost two-thirds of Americans - 63 percent - do not have enough in their savings for an emergency, defined as an unexpected expense of $500-$1000. A substantial majority of Americans would need to borrow money from a family member, take out a bank loan, or put it on their credit card if faced with such an expense because they lack the resources to do otherwise.

This was all according to a survey cited in Forbes, which had the takeaway not that the economy sucks or that wealth continues to congeal at the top or that people are underpaid or that chronic long-term unemployment remains stubbornly high, but rather that "Americans are terrible savers." Which becomes bitterly funny when it's recalled that in June, Jon Hilsenrath, chief economics correspondent of the Wall Street Journal, was grousing that we are saving too much and not spending enough.

Meanwhile, the richest 0.1 percent of Americans have almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent combined and income inequality is the highest it has been since 1928. As Ben Norton, a politics staff writer at Salon magazine, wrote, "the term 'middle class' is useless" because, as he says, we don't have one anymore. I have for some time been saying that we are becoming a two-class nation of just a tiny number of rich and a great number of poor or at best working poor. And it seems that every day there is new information to confirm that.

Worldwide, the situation is even worse as income and wealth inequality continue to steadily worsen.

According to Oxfam, in 2010 the world's richest 388 people had the same amount of wealth as the bottom 50% of the world's population. By 2014, that number had shrunk to 80. In 2015, it was 62. Just 62 people, together, were as rich as half the population of the world combined. Indeed, since 2010, the wealth of that lower 50% has dropped by about $1 trillion, or 41 percent. The world is hideously and immorally unequal, and that inequality is not only increasing, it is accelerating. And for all their talk about how much they worry about that inequality, our economic and political leaders seem revealingly uninterested in actually doing anything about it except in cases - such as global climate change - where the inequality becomes so severe as to threaten what they value second only to their bottom lines, which is stability.

Those who are now gathering at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland - which I am forever tempted to call Davros - no matter what platitudes they may mouth, they are not on your side. They don't give a damn about you except insofar as you can fatten their bank accounts.

And don't think it's any better here. Don't.

Do you really think those politicos of both parties who blather on about the non-existent middle class really have your interests at heart? I know I don't have to convince you about people like Paul Rantin' or Ted Crazy or Donald TheRump, but do you really believe that, to cite a prominent example, Hillary Clinton, who has so many ties to Wall Street that it looks like some sort of kinky bondage party, is going to challenge the interests of the banks and bankers any more than did Barack Obama,

- who failed to prosecute Wall Street crooks, even going so far as to specifically refuse to follow up on criminal referrals from the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, which was set up to investigate criminality in the 2008 collapse;

- who thus let the bankers get away with, in the words of one source, "theft, wire fraud, bank fraud, loan fraud, securities fraud, and commodities fraud" while millions of Americans lost their life savings and their homes even as his Justice Department made mortgage fraud its lowest-ranked national criminal priority and closed hundreds of cases after little or no investigation;

- who depended for economic advice on the likes of Tim Geithner and has stood silent as the too-big-to-fail banks have gotten even bigger?

Do you really think people like that are on your side, on the side of the 56%, the 63%, the 90%?

Do not believe it.
Not for a second.

Now, I'm not going to claim to you that every leader, every officeholder, every politician, every rich person, is a solely self-interested selfish scumbag. I suppose I would say that, for again a prominent example, Bernie Sanders could be an exception, based largely on the fact that he's been saying pretty much the same things for 40 years or so, even though he's not the socialist he claims to be, even less the one he's painted as. But I do say for him and for all the rest that "guilty until proven innocent" is a good and reliable standard.

Sources cited in links:

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