Some are more equal than others

Published on Online Journal, by Nick Egnatz, Nov. 6, 2009.

The Great Recession is over, but (and it is a very big but) it will be a jobless recovery. The official unemployment rate is due to hit 10 percent, while a 16 or 17 percent figure would show more accurately those who are not registering with local authorities because benefits have run out. Certainly a figure well beyond 30 percent would represent the underemployed and part-timers who want full time work at a livable wage.

“All the king’s horses and all the king’s men’s” resources were used to prop up the same Wall Street financial institutions that were directly responsible for the economic crash in September 2008. Lawmakers of both political stripes twice utilized the opportunity to do some heavy lifting for these Wall Street “banksters”; first in voting to deregulate the financial safety net of laws protecting us from them and then voting to gift them the wealth of the nation when their scheme went sour …  

… Neo-liberalism (free trade, free markets, tax cuts and no regulations) has been the hallmark of the U.S. economy for 30 years with strong bi-partisan support from both corporate political parties. It has allowed U.S. corporations and capital to become transnational and outsource both jobs and profits overseas. It has been responsible for the destruction of the U.S. manufacturing base, the U.S. middle class and the huge transfer of wealth to the former U.S. elite class, now more correctly termed the transnational elite class:

  • For the 45 years (1935-1980) when we began to develop a strong middle class, the tax rate on the surplus income of our most wealthy was between 70-93 percent. It is now 35 percent.
  • Ten years ago the top one percent received 37 percent of the returns to wealth (dividends, interest, rent and capital gains), now they get 70 percent.
  • In the 2008 tax year, households in the bottom 20 percent received $26 due to the Bush tax cuts. Households in the middle 20 percent received $784. Households in the top one percent received $50,495. And households in the top one tenth of one percent received $266,151.
  • Measuring the gap between rich and poor, the U.S. is the third most unequal of the 30 Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) countries, behind only Mexico and Turkey.
  • In 1965 CEO pay was 20 times that of an average worker.
  • In 2000 CEO pay was 458 times that of an average worker.

Years ago, former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said “We can have a democracy or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few. We cannot have both” … (full text).

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