Rich get richer, poor poorer

The Invisible Poverty of “The Other America” of the 1960s Is Far More Visible Today. Peter Dreier, Truthout in the USA: “Fifty years ago (in March 1962) Michael Harrington wrote a book, ‘The Other America: Poverty in the United States‘ – a haunting tour of deprivation in an affluent society – that inspired Presidents Kennedy and Johnson to wage a war on poverty. This slim, 186-page volume became a best-seller and became required reading for social scientists, elected officials, college students, members of study groups sponsored by churches and synagogues, reporters and intellectuals, the new wave of community organizers and the student activists who traveled to the South to join the civil rights crusade”: here.

USA: Bill Moyers and Michael Winship, Moyers & Co.: “A PBS spokesperson told The New York Times that the service ‘is fully committed to independent films and the diversity of content they provide.’ That can quickly be demonstrated by reversing a bad decision and returning to a national core time slot the independent documentaries created – often at real financial sacrifice – by the producers and filmmakers whose own passion is to reveal life honestly and to make plain, for all to see, the realities of inequality and injustice in America”: here.

US auto execs paid millions for slashing workers’ wages: here.

On March 15, California schools handed out 20,000 layoff notices to teachers and other employees in all the school districts across the state: here.

By Julie Hyland in Britain:

UK budget brings a bonanza for the rich and pain for workers

23 March 2012

The Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition’s budget is unambiguously aimed at enriching the top 1 percent at the expense of everyone else

Two years into the most severe austerity measures since the 1930s, during which time living standards have plummeted, Chancellor George Osborne announced the top rate of tax will be cut from 50 to 45 pence.

The 50 pence top rate applies only to those earning over £150,000 per annum—just 1 percent of the population. Introduced by Labour in 2010 as a temporary measure, it was in large part aimed at deflecting attention from from the multibillion-pound bank bailout that had rescued the fortunes of the super-rich at society’s expense.

For the most part, Britain’s wealthy have as usual managed to avoid paying anywhere near the amount set due to what was described by Channel 4 News as “legitimate tax avoidance”. But they are bitterly hostile to any infringement on their state-supported riches and had demanded its swift removal.

Osborne cynically cited extensive tax avoidance as proof that the top rate was worthless, had brought in far less than the £2.6 billion anticipated and should be scrapped.

He did so despite opinion polls showing that two thirds of those questioned were in favour of maintaining the top rate. In fact, more than 90 percent felt that the rich should be subject to greater taxation.

Britain: The Fawcett Society‘s report reveals the terrible impact of austerity on women.

USA: A Single Hedge-Fund Hustler Makes More Than 85,000 Teachers: Why Are Our Priorities So Messed Up? Here.

A new study reveals that living standards for nearly half of the US population remain stagnant or have plummeted six years into the recessionary crisis: here.

Why is it so hard for the political left to produce a coherent and progressive response to the economic crisis, when market neoliberalism has so obviously failed? Here.

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7 thoughts on “Rich get richer, poor poorer

  1. Pingback: New York religious fundamentalist education censorship | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Five Reasons Why the Very Rich Have Not Earned Their Money

    The wealthiest Americans believe they’ve earned their money through hard work and innovation, and that they’re the most productive members of society. For the most part they’re wrong. As the facts below will show, they’re not nearly as productive as middle-class workers. Yet they’ve taken almost all the new income over the past 30 years.
    Any one of these five reasons should reinforce the belief that the rich should be paying a LOT more in taxes:

    1. They’ve Taken All the Middle Class Wage Increases

    In 1980 the richest 1% of America took one of every fifteen post-tax income dollars. Now, according to IRS figures, they take THREE of every fifteen post-tax income dollars. They’ve tripled their cut of America’s income pie. That’s a trillion extra dollars a year. For every dollar the richest 1% earned in 1980, they’ve added three more dollars. The poorest 90% have added ONE CENT.

    Yet the average American factory worker, according to Berkeley economist Enrico Moretti, produces $180,000 worth of goods a year, more than three times what he or she produced in 1978, in inflation-adjusted dollars. So workers have TRIPLED their productivity over 30 years while the richest 1% have TRIPLED their share of income. Worker pay remained flat as the top 10% took almost all the productivity gains since 1980.

    2. They’ve Mismanaged Key American Industries

    We have the most expensive health care system in the world. Failing banks have survived because of taxpayer bailouts. Management-approved shortcuts have led to workplace deaths and chemical leak disasters. Companies lobby for cap and trade laws so their profits can pay for their pollution. Over twenty percent of Americans are unemployed or underemployed as big companies hoard $2 trillion in cash. 93% of post-recession income is going to the 1% “job-creators” with no appreciable increase in jobs. Private tuition is skyrocketing, with student loans reaching the $1 trillion mark. Bonuses continue for executives at Ford and Bank of America and Sirius and other companies who have underperformed and/or laid off workers. No, the captains of industry have not earned their money because of their top-notch management skills.

    3. They’ve Benefited from 50 Years of Public Research

    The very rich have made their fortunes in good part because of taxpayer-funded research at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (the Internet), the National Institute of Health, the National Science Foundation, and numerous other government agencies.
    Consider just a simple communications device. Computer chips and audio/video/voice technologies grew out of decades of funding at the Department of Defense, the Air Force, NASA, and public universities. The pieces of the device were put together by a procession of chemists, physicists, chip designers, programmers, engineers, production-line workers, market analysts, testers, troubleshooters, etc., etc. They, in turn, couldn’t have succeeded without another layer of people providing sustenance and medical support and security and administrative assistance and transportation and office maintenance for the technologists. All of them contributed to the final product.
    But over the years private businesses have received government contracts to produce and market the results, and “entrepreneurs” have rearranged the pieces into products that seem to appear out of the magical world of a single individual.

    4. They’ve Increased Their Incomes By Not Paying Taxes

    The richest 10% own 80% of the stock market, providing billions in “unearned income” that is taxed at less than half the rate of income earned through real work.
    Hedge fund managers call their income “carried interest” instead of “income” to keep their tax rate at 15%. Even this small amount may not be paid. Hedge fund managers with incomes in the billions can pay ZERO income tax by deferring their profits through their companies indefinitely.

    Real tax rates for the richest Americans have gone way down over the last 30 years, from 34% in 1980 to 23% in 2006. Yet the 1% claim they pay most of the taxes. They don’t, if all taxes are considered. Based on recent data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the total of all state and local taxes, social security taxes, and excise taxes (gasoline, alcohol, tobacco) consumes 22% of the annual incomes of the poorest quintile. For the top 1% of Americans, the same taxes consume less than 10% of their incomes.
    In addition, most inherited wealth goes untaxed, with estates valued up to $5 million exempt from federal taxes. The average tax rate on inheritance is less than 3 percent.

    It’s no different for corporations. U.S. Office of Management (OMB) figures show a gradual drop over the years in Corporate Income Tax as a Share of GDP, from 4% in the 1960s to 1.3% in 2010. That’s ONE-THIRD of their previous share. From 2008 to 2010, the top 100 U.S. corporations paid only 12.2% of their income in taxes, and thirty of them paid nothing at all.

    The lack of SEC regulation has also allowed corporate America to seek tax dodges beyond our borders. Citizens for Tax Justice reports that the 280 most profitable U.S. corporations sheltered half their profits from taxes – up to $337 billion a year – between 2008 and 2010. Most shocking is the long-term shift in the tax burden from corporations to middle-class workers. For every dollar of workers’ payroll tax paid in the 1950s, corporations paid three dollars. Now it’s 16 cents.

    5. They’ve Contributed Little to Society

    The richest individuals and corporations have shown little regard for the majority of Americans who depend on sound financial management for their economic security. According to sources such as the New York Times and ProPublica, Wall Street firms including JPMorgan, Citigroup, Bank of America, and Goldman Sachs have been repeatedly charged with fraud only to avoid punishment by paying a fraction of their profits in fines.

    Financial insiders have figured out how to cheat other investors by timing the purchase of a stock option to precede good corporate news, timing the sale of a stock option to precede bad corporate news, and changing the purchase date on a stock option to a time when the price was lower.

    One hedge fund manager, John Paulson, made $4 billion by working with Goldman Sachs to create a financial product that would allow him to bet on the collapse of the housing market. Other financial masterminds packaged toxic derivatives for sale to unknowing pension funds, as ratings agencieswere paid to ensure the worthless packages received AAA ratings.

    Meanwhile, the banks were roughing up the homeowners. Bank of America foreclosed on tens of thousands of Americans by using unverified evidence called “robo-signing.”
    Disdain for average citizens goes way beyond fraud, and well outside our borders, into the areas of environmental and human rights abuses. Computer and phone makers like Apple save money by obtaining their coltan from the Congo, where children dig it out of the mines. The “blood coltan” goes to China, where teenagers stand for 12 hours a day performing repetitive tasks for a few dollars. Monsanto’s herbicides and pesticides cause biological damage, promote the growth of ‘superbugs’ and ‘superweeds,’ and generally don’t outperform organic methods of farming. Exxon is not only the biggest profit-maker and polluter, but the company has conducted a lengthy campaign to deceive the public about global warming. Corporate Accountability International named Monsanto, Exxon, Koch Industries, Chevron, Blackwater, and Halliburton to its Corporate Hall of Shame.
    And finally, how well is society served when valuable resources are spent on a yacht complete with golf course, submarine, beach, and helicopter, and which qualified for a second-home mortgage deduction? Or on a $250,000 playhouse for the kids?

    Studies show that increased wealth is correlated with a lesser degree of empathy for others. Despite their dependency on society for everything else, the super-rich have apparently earned the right to live in their own privileged world.


  3. Pingback: Austerity, but not for billionaires | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: Hunger in the USA, new documentary film | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  5. Pingback: Canadian rich getting richer | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  6. Pingback: Poverty in Britain | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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