Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The rich do get richer and the rest of us do get poorer

Today PBS reported on a new analysis of income inequality in America. Turns out the recession has increased it "to the widest margins since the census began counting." Some factoids:

1. Last year 20% of Americans (those who make more than $100K/yr.) got 49% of all income in the country.

2. Last year 20% of Americans (the bottom fifth this time) got 3.4% of all income here.

3. This is the biggest disparity between rich and poor of all modern industrialized nations.

4. This is recent--it only started in the late 1970s. Before then, from 1929 to 1979, incomes were becoming more equal.

5. This is because the gains in productivity that corporations have enjoyed have been kept by top management and the investor class instead of being shared with the workers whose increased productivity produced the gains. Consequently real wages of most Americans have stagnated while income of the richest has soared. The .5% richest Americans have appropriated most of the increase.

6. And all this has been accompanied by a huge surge in poverty.

7. Income opportunities for workers without college degrees have sagged.

8. Immigration has not been a major factor except for the 10% of Americans who didn't graduate from high school. College grads are unaffected by immigration.

9. The sagging wages of lower and middle class people was obscured by home equity borrowing for decades; now that that's impossible for many, the true consequences of the appropriation of so much income from so many by so few over the last several decades is finally becoming obvious.

Reported on PBS News Hour today. You can see the report via podcast.

"I'ts the rich wot gets the gravy--it's the poor wot gits the blame."

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