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Today's USA: the Most Unequal Society Anywhere, Ever

Discussion in 'Politics and Current Affairs' started by SiempreTuna, Mar 25, 2014.

  1. SiempreTuna

    SiempreTuna Android Expert
    Thread Starter

    Just read this fascinating discussion about Capital in the Twenty-First Century in The New Yorker.

    The book summarising a couple of decades of research and is currently pretty much the biggest news among economics academics - so big that the US publication date has actually been brought forward!

    Perhaps the most interesting 'soundbyte' from the book is the statement - supported by data, note - that in terms of income generated by work, the level of inequality in the United States is "probably higher than in any other society at any time in the past, anywhere in the world".

    Yes, that's saying the US is currently the most unequal society ever. Which is pretty startling given that 'ever' includes societies not exactly known for their equality like say, ancient Mesopotamia, Rome and Egypt. To say nothing of 19th century Europe.

    An (oft cited) example is that, back in the 1950s, a CEO typically earned around 20 times what an average worker in their company earned. Today, they typically earn 200 times what their average worker does. For Walmart's former boss, Michael Duke the figure was around 920 times however that pales into insignificance compared to Tim Cook, for whom the figure is a staggering 6,258 times.

    To be fair, the rest of the developed world is also more unequal than it has been, at least since a former peak in the 1920s.

    From 1945 to 1973 there was an all-too-brief golden period where equality in the west was pretty good however, since the right wing revolution of the late 70s, inequality has sky rocketed. To the point, the book argues, where it is becoming seriously destabilising.

    The books demonstrates that the current levels of inequality are driven by politics rather than economic fundementals. It the suggests that the best solution is to return to the sort of taxation levels Europe and the US had during the golden period, say 80% for incomes of more than $1 million and up to 10% on capital.

    Somehow I have a feeling not everyone here will entirely agree with that eminently sensible suggestion .. ;)
     

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  2. dibblebill

    dibblebill Android Expert

    Pfffffffft. Like its just right-wingers that have contributed.

    What has also skyrocketed is lobbying and other things. You look at a lot of these industries that make tons of money and a lot have extremely close ties to politicians. That, combined with what I view as absolutely SILLY greed on the part of executives, amplifies the disparity by a lot. I would point out that most of the left-wingers actual voting records go towards Goold Ol' Boys just like the right-wingers, just in different industries.

    Anyway, something else that helps contribute- the way we've set up our "welfare" programs. I know people on them- they don't want to be on Welfare, but they can't get off of it either. My buddy gets a job? "Well, then even though you only make $1200/month you lose 75% of your benefits." That barely covers rent, much less bus fair, food, bills, etc. He's not the only case I can cite where that happens, and it pretty much slaps them back down, as they can't afford to work.

    I'd also like to note that the US has been a very mixed economy since the early 1900's, and a crony capitalist nation since before that.
     
  3. A *French* book that's any treatise on economic facts?

    Really?

    What's next, a French book espousing their expertise in Warfare? :rolleyes:

    "France has neither winter, nor summer, nor morals. France is miserable because it is filled with Frenchmen, and Frenchmen are miserable because they live in France." --Mark Twain
     
  4. dibblebill

    dibblebill Android Expert

    Frederic Bastiat had a lot of good, in-depth economic ideas and he was French.
     
  5. SiempreTuna

    SiempreTuna Android Expert
    Thread Starter

    I don't think HookedonPhoneics is serious about the French thing - besides, the writer taught at MIT for 3 years back in the early 90s, so clearly US acedemia respects him.
     
  6. !on

    !on Android Expert

    It's the same in UK / Europe. Corporate greed bankrolls politicians. We are being told various issues in politics are for our own good but no-one are buying it anymore, it's all for the ultra greedy elite (politicians, bankers, corporations...). We have been made slaves to this, it doesn't matter if on welfare, working or further education - if we're anything from middle class or below, we are slaves.

    It IS starting to look less convincing now. We have UKIP tempting us away from Europe, saying we should look out for our own economy, not the corporate greed interests in Europe - this has got the two major parties (Labour & Conservative) extremely scared. The same two parties who keep whispering the words "EU referendum" to us (with no intention of letting us have said referendum) are very worried because they can't quantify what percentage of us have given up falling for their lies until the actual general elections. The story is old & it's cringe worthy watching Nick Clegg (leader of the Liberal Democrats who sold out to the Conservatives) begging on the behalf of corrupt corporate greed when Nigel Farage (UKIP) is saying what many of us are thinking.

    The big charade is that you have to pick a side to vote for, like you're watching the game. Politics is about individual politicians & unfortunately the ones with good intentions on the behalf of the public will be spirited away, corrupted, smeared or even assassinated by big corporate interests. Add to that, half of the voting public are extremely fickle. A colleague of mine was making noises about "sending the immigrants back" & voting UKIP at which point I told him he has chosen the wrong party & should be voting BNP instead. Some people don't even know who or what they are voting for.

    Corporate greed is an illness & an addiction, these people are bigger than all the south american drug cartels so no doctors will treat them for it. SWHTF before they change & if it does, they'll all be living it up in the sun somewhere.
     
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