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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Lots of bad news lately for America

It seems, of late, there is a great deal of reporting on the wealthy, even the very wealthy, ini our country.

And it's about time.

With their ability and proclivity to buy our representatives and their legislation and so, our laws and government, I think it important to know things like what they're doing, how our system got this way and, perhaps most importantly, how we can and do get out of this god-awful, so-corrupt way of not really running the country for the people and as we should.

Here's the first:

Matt Taibbi's New Book Is a Striking Study of How the Rich Are Never Punished for Their Crimes

'The Divide' is a riveting account of how the 1% get away with pretty much whatever they want

Matt Taibbi has been doing a fantastic job of reporting on Wall Street and the brokers and hedge fund managers and the like, who brought the nation's and world's economies to the brink of financial collapse in 2008. He continues that work, fortunately for us, here.

A second article, this from Bill Moyers:

A brief description:

The median pay for the top 100 highest-paid CEOs at America’s publicly traded companies was a handsome $13.9 million in 2013. That’s a 9 percent increase from the previous year, according to a new Equilar pay studyfor The New York Times.
These types of jumps in executive compensation may have more of an effect on our widening income inequality than previously thought. A new book that’s the talk of academia and the media, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, a 42-year-old who teaches at the Paris School of Economics, shows that two-thirds of America’s increase in income inequality over the past four decades is the result of steep raises given to the country’s highest earners.
This week, Bill talks with Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, about Piketty’s “magnificent” new book.
“What Piketty’s really done now is he said, ‘Even those of you who talk about the 1 percent, you don’t really get what’s going on.’ He’s telling us that we are on the road not just to a highly unequal society, but to a society of an oligarchy. A society of inherited wealth.”
Krugman adds: “We’re seeing inequalities that will be transferred across generations. We are becoming very much the kind of society we imagined we’re nothing like.
As always, good and important reporting from Mr. Moyers.
Third, this article, which tells us of the results of all this power grab, corruption, bribes and "campaign contributions" in America:

Some sad, likely surprising, if not frightening information:

The American middle class, long the most affluent in the world, has lost that distinction.

While the wealthiest Americans are outpacing many of their global peers, a New York Times analysis shows that across the lower- and middle-income tiers, citizens of other advanced countries have received considerably larger raises over the last three decades.

After-tax middle-class incomes in Canada — substantially behind in 2000 — now appear to be higher than in the United States. The poor in much of Europe earn more than poor Americans.

The numbers, based on surveys conducted over the past 35 years, offer some of the most detailed publicly available comparisons for different income groups in different countries over time. They suggest that most American families are paying a steep price for high and rising income inequality.

Although economic growth in the United States continues to be as strong as in many other countries, or stronger, a small percentage of American households is fully benefiting from it. Median income in Canada pulled into a tie with median United States income in 2010 and has most likely surpassed it since then. Median incomes in Western European countries still trail those in the United States, but the gap in several — including Britain, the Netherlands and Sweden — is much smaller than it was a decade ago.

It goes on:

The findings are striking because the most commonly cited economic statistics — such as per capita gross domestic product — continue to show that the United States has maintained its lead as the world’s richest large country. But those numbers are averages, which do not capture the distribution of income. With a big share of recent income gains in this country flowing to a relatively small slice of high-earning households, most Americans are not keeping pace with their counterparts around the world.

“The idea that the median American has so much more income than the middle class in all other parts of the world is not true these days,” said Lawrence Katz, a Harvard economist who is not associated with LIS. “In 1960, we were massively richer than anyone else. In 1980, we were richer. In the 1990s, we were still richer.”

Finally, this last article, at least today, is this one, further describing America's current status:

Princeton Study: U.S. No Longer An Actual Democracy

Asking "[w]ho really rules?" researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page argue that over the past few decades America's political system has slowly transformed from a democracy into an oligarchy, where wealthy elites wield most power.

Using data drawn from over 1,800 different policy initiatives from 1981 to 2002, the two conclude that rich, well-connected individuals on the political scene now steer the direction of the country, regardless of or even against the will of the majority of voters.

I think it's important we know who we are, what we are, how we spend our money, collectively, as a nation, as in our Defense Department, what form of government we have, who rules us and where the wealth of the nation is going.

It's going, largely, to the top "1%."  

To the already-wealthy.

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