July 18, 2007

If this is such a rich country, why are we getting squeezed?

From Alternet:

The commercial media is telling us two perfectly contradictory stories about the American economy. The first is how wonderfully rich we are in the United States. The stock market's booming -- some analysts predict the Dow will break the 15,000 this year -- the economy is expanding at a healthy clip, productivity growth is up and unemployment and inflation are relatively low.

But, at the same time, we're also told that we don't have the money to pay for a robust social safety net. When it comes to paying for universal health coverage, affording retirement security for our elderly, investing in programs for the poor or educating our children, we need to pinch pennies.


Saying that the majority of the country's economic gains in recent years have gone to the top one percent of the income ladder understates the trend. You have to cut the pie into even smaller slices to get the full picture. Because while the bottom half of the top one percent of the income distribution have done far better than the average wage slaves, it is a smaller slice still -- the top .01 percent -- that has grabbed most of the gains--seeing an impressive 250 percent increase in income between 1973 and 2005 -- from an economy that's grown by 160 percent.


An analysis by economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez gives us the best perspective of what's going on for everyone else. They found that despite several periods of healthy growth between 1973 and 2005, the average income of all but the top ten percent of the income ladder -- nine out of ten American families - fell by 11 percent when adjusted for inflation. For three decades, economic growth in the United States has gone first and foremost to building today's modern Gilded Age.

[...] economists like to mention globalization, mechanization, or other factors that require us to be lean and mean and more "competitive."


But that's simply not true.

The economy--as measured by gross domestic product (GDP)--has grown by over 160 percent since 1973 (PDF).

click here for the whole thing

I really like how they used the term "Guilded Age," because that's exactly what we've been living in. Corporate media and corporate politicians boast about our economy, but most Americans don't benefit at all. We're systematically being ripped off, and it's completely intentional.

Meanwhile, talk radio pundits, and most cable news pundits, chomp at the bit about how poor people and anyone who questions our corporate system need to shut the hell up and realize how great our country is, and supposedly "liberal" CNN blatantly lies about the facts presented in Sicko and no one but Michael Moore himself calls them on it (just one example of many others I could name).

Some people don't realize how FUCKED UP this is.

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