In our nation the myth continues to be perpetuated that if you work hard, anyone can get rich; which inherently implies that if you are not rich, clearly you just have not worked hard enough. Comedian Jon Stewart highlights just how ludicrous this flawed ethos truly is.
Recently I was listening to an engrossing radio interview with the visionary economist and author, Gar Alperovitz, as he was discussing his new book, What Then Must We Do?, which highlights the rise of cooperatives, worker ownership and the restructuring of our failing economy from the bottom up.
This week House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi stated that the historic profits recently made by Wall Street demand that our nation increase the minimum wage to at least $10.10 an hour. The California Democrat explained that these enormous corporate financial gains have not translated into higher wages for most workers, and millions of working families are facing severe hardships as they continue to struggle.
It seems like every month the number of people who are unemployed, or in need of food stamps soars to record new levels, while corporate profits continue to skyrocket. Attempting to describe the gargantuan disparity in wealth that exists in the United States is increasingly difficult. Currently 1% of our population now possess 40% of our nation’s wealth, while the bottom 80% of us own just a scant 7%.
Jon Stewart spoke with Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz about how the extreme concentration of wealth in the hands of a few plutocrats is destroying the very principles upon which our country was founded:
“It seems like people are not angry at wealth or success, they get frustrated by what appears to be an entirely different set of rules put in place by the wealthy, who then say: ‘Hey man, I’m just playing by the rules’, as though those rules were an arbitrary design of the free market.”
A new report has been published which compiles detailed information about the enormous amount of money that is being hidden by billionaires in offshore accounts. The research, The Price of Offshore Revisited, shows that over 21 trillion dollars, more than the total combined GDPs of both the United States and Japan, are being sequestered out of sight into the legally murky offshore economy. The super elite are using every available resource to exploit loopholes in cross-border tax rules to avoid paying their fair share.
Earlier this month Noam Chomsky published an incisive essay entitled: “Plutonomy & the Precariat: On the History of the U.S. Economy in Decline*, which elucidates how the extreme concentration of wealth with the 1% has transpired because our country no longer manufactures actual things — bankers, stock brokers and financiers simply manipulate the idea of money. The United States has mutated into a vastly economically stratified oligarchy, 99% of whom have almost no political power or influence in our nation’s “democracy”.
The growing income inequality in the United States is making our economy very volatile and unstable. Executive compensation and CEO pay have helped to fuel that rapidly expanding wealth gap, as well as our country’s financial crisis. The Economic Policy Institute has just released a report detailing how the grotesque expansion of CEO pay has helped to create our nation’s huge chasm in income.
The United States is becoming an increasingly severely stratified plutocracy. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities just released a new study proving that the richest 1% are continuing to amass greater and greater amounts of wealth, while the rest of the population is still struggling financially.
“If I am a spokesman for all the people who think that we should not have 24 million people in this country who can’t find a full time job, that we should not have 50 million people in this country who can’t see a doctor when they’re sick; that we shouldn’t have 47 million people in this country who need government help in order to feed themselves, and we shouldn’t have 15 million families who owe more on their mortgage than the value of their home, okay, I’ll be that spokesman.”
Stop blaming yourself if you feel exhausted and overworked, because you are. If it seems like for years you have been laboring more hours and making less money, struggling more just to get by, it is indeed true. Even though U.S. citizens on average are now working more hours with much greater productivity, our wages remain stagnant. If we are lucky enough to even have a job in this dire economy, we are told to be grateful and industrious, and not to complain about the increasingly small pittance we are now earning.
It is difficult to comprehend just how rich the plutocracy in the United States has now become. The distribution of wealth and resources in this nation is even more extreme and inequitable than what we are all earning for our wages (if you are fortunate enough to actually even have a job). According to new research released by the Economic Policy Institute,”The State of Working America’s Wealth”, the volatility and turmoil in our economy continues to increase, as the massive chasm between the grotesquely rich and everyone else grows even more immense.
Last week the FBI just released its massive files on Howard Zinn, whom they began spying upon in 1949. Not sure why the eminent historian merited 423 pages of monitoring by our federal government; it seems to me like a grossly misguided use of resources.
The greater the disparity in wealth between the very rich and everyone else, the more unstable an economy becomes. Our nation has now created a larger gap in the distribution of wealth than the massive chasm that helped fuel the Great Depression.