Monday, January 03, 2005

The Rich Get Richer

The rich get richer ---

And it’s no accident.

Nor is it because they’re fitter, in case you were wondering, or because they work harder, or because they deserve it, or anything like that.

It’s because they have rigged the game.

You’re not going to get told that, of course, because guess who owns the media? (Hint: it ain’t poor guys.) But it’s so.

During the short boom of the late 1990s, conservative analysts asserted that, yes, the gap between rich and poor was growing, but that incomes for the poor were still increasing over previous levels. Today most economists, regardless of their political persuasion, agree that the data over the last 25 to 30 years is unequivocal. The top 5% is capturing an increasingly greater portion of the pie while the bottom 95% is clearly losing ground, and the highly touted American middle class is fast disappearing.

According to economic journalist, David Cay Johnston, author of “Perfectly Legal,” this trend is not the result of some naturally occurring, social Darwinist “survival of the fittest.” It is the product of legislative policies carefully crafted and lobbied for by corporations and the super-rich over the past 25 years.

New tax shelters in the 1980s shifted the tax burden off capital and onto labor. As tax shelters rose, the amount of federal revenue coming from corporations fell (from 35% during the Eisenhower years to 10% in 2002). During the deregulation wave of the ‘80s and the ‘90s, members of Congress passed legislation (often without reading it) that deregulated much of the financial industry. These laws took away, for example, the powerful incentives for accountants to behave with integrity or for companies to put away a reasonable amount in pension plans for their employees—resulting in the well-publicized (too late) scandals involving Enron, Global Crossing, and others.


We’re supposed to be the country where anything is possible – work hard and you get ahead. Go to school and get your degree and you can make a good living for your family.

Everyone who’s honest knows that’s not so anymore.

Hard work doesn’t result in a good living.

A degree doesn’t always get a good job.

A good job won’t make enough money to support a family – it takes two good jobs, and even then you and your family will be barely scraping by, and you just better hope no one gets sick, because one bout of serious illness or a bad traffic accident will be enough to wipe you out. (And yes, I’m speaking from experience here.)

Housing costs are increasing. Fuel costs are increasing. The job market continues to be weak – and most jobs continue to be bad ones, ones that will keep their owners poor and desperate.

People can’t afford to have kids – or if they have kids, they can’t afford to raise them, or educate them.

And educate them for what? There are only so many nursing home aide jobs out there, folks.

Where do you think this is going to end?

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