Sunday, March 11, 2012


(photo provided)
Rochester, N.Y. -- As Mitt Romney and the 1 percent he represents collect 93 percent of the income gains from our economy, the United States is rapidly returning to pre-New Deal levels of inequality. We have addressed this topic several times here on the pages of the Voice Reporter—here is one example a previous report.

Today, we finally have the estimated data for 2010 by income percentile, and it turns out that the top 1 percent had a fantastic year. The data is in the World Top Income Database, as well as Emmanuel Saez’s updated “Striking it Richer: The Evolution of Top Incomes in the United States” (as well as the excel spreadsheet on his webpage).

The takeaway quote here goes something like this: “the top 1% captured 93% of the income gains in the first year of recovery.”

This data would suggest that from 2007 to 2009, we just made a huge transference of wealth from middle-class pocketbooks to handing over our family savings and retirement funds to the very same banks, people and corporations that got us into this budgetary fiscal mess in the first place. What a colossal mistake—the exception being Obama’s successful re-investment strategy when it came to the auto industry. Most of the harm was done to the economy well before Obama got into office. Thank god he was able to stop the bleeding.

It’s also worth noting that, pre-recession, inequality hadn’t been that high since the Great Depression, and now we are quickly returning to that state. It’s important to remember that a series of choices were made during the New Deal to react to runaway inequality, including changes to progressive taxation, financial regulation, monetary policy, labor unionization, and the provisioning of public goods and guaranteed social insurance.

It worked pre World War II and it could work again. The battle whether to tax corporations and rich people fairly will be fought over this election year and well into the next decade — it’s already been fought for the past three years — on all these previously mentioned fronts. The subsequent resolution will determine how broadly shared prosperity is going forward and whether our economy will continue to be as unstable as it has been.

The GOP could really care less about shared prosperity or economic growth—their concerns are about dismantling regulations and government programs that stand in their way to gaining a bigger piece of the pie. As it is, they own 93 percent of it. When will average folk take charge of their own financial future and support candidates that protect their own best interest? History has proven that GOP policies do nothing to address economic growth or create jobs.

You have to ask yourself, what kind of country do you want to live in? As simplistic as it seems, most leaders of the Tea Party and Conservative movements have no desire to pay their fair share or fight for the ideals of inclusion, opportunity and equality for all. 
It’s rather an “every man for himself” ideology—a world in which there is no compassion or shared sense of responsibility for participating in a civil society. It’s a world where you are a producer or a parasite-- a world where you were born into privilege or poverty. It’s a world we left in the early 1930's and it's one we don’t want to revisit again.

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