Category Archives: Government Issues

the root of the problem

The Wealth Gap

The Wealth Gap

Recently I posted several times regarding the income gap disparity and the fact that it continues to widen. I also think it important to examine how this impacts our system of Capitalism, which I advocate. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that as the income gap widens so does the distribution of wealth. The following chart illustrates that, as a country we were making good progress in wealth distribution until the mid-80s at which point the trend takes a nosedive. This coincides with the time when inflation adjusted wages began the stagnation which continues today, despite our increase in GNP during the same period.

The share of wealth owned by the top 0.1% is almost the same as the bottom 90%

The share of wealth owned by the top 0.1% is almost the same as the share owned by the bottom 90%

The research by Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman [pdf] illustrates the evolution of wealth inequality over the last century. The chart shows how the top 0.1% of families now own roughly the same share of wealth as the bottom 90%.

What this illustrates that as our country’s wealth has grown in the past 35 years only the super-rich have benefited and the middle class has been screwed. The Capitalism playing field has been manipulated. A Capitalistic system means that capital is king. Those with wealth and excess capital control the system. In a situation where .1% control as much of the capital as the group that includes all of the “middle-class” guess who is in total control.

Next week we will examine what changed in the mid-80s that has led to this unacceptable disparity.

The growing indebtedness of most Americans is the main reason behind the erosion of the wealth share of the bottom 90%, according to the report’s authors. Many middle-class families own their homes and have pensions, but too many have higher mortgage repayments, higher credit card bills, and higher student loans to service. The average wealth of bottom 90% jumped during the stock market boom of the late 1990s and the housing bubble of the early 2000s. But it then collapsed during and after the most recent financial crisis. What about the rising cost of Healthcare and advanced education….along with the previously mentioned wage stagnation.

Since then, there has been no recovery in the wealth of the middle class and the poor, the authors say. The average wealth of the bottom 90% of families is equal to $80,000 in 2012— the same level as in 1986. In contrast, the average wealth for the top 1% more than tripled between 1980 and 2012.

Democracy

Democracy

Our country has always been the beacon of democracy, not unlike the earlier example in Greece. It seems just that this establishing this form of government does not ensure the system’s longevity. While the US has been an example for many other countries how are we doing after over 240 years?                                      Below from Wikipedia:                                                                                                 “The Democracy Index is an index compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), a UK-based company. Its intention is to measure the state of democracy in 167 countries, of which 166 are sovereign states and 164 are UN member states.

The index was first published in 2006, with updates for 2008, 2010 and later years. The index is based on 60 indicators grouped in five different categories, measuring pluralism, civil liberties and political culture. In addition to a numeric score and a ranking, the index categorizes each country in one of four regime types: full democracies, flawed democracies, hybrid regimes and authoritarian regimes.

As described in the report, the democracy index is a weighted average based on the answers of 60 questions, each one with either two or three permitted alternative answers. Most answers are “experts’ assessments”. Some answers are provided by public-opinion surveys from the respective countries. In the case of countries for which survey results are missing, survey results for similar countries and expert assessments are used in order to fill in gaps.

The questions are grouped into five categories: electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, functioning of government, political participation, and political culture. Each answer is converted to a score, either 0 or 1, or for the three-answer questions, 0, 0.5 or 1. With the exceptions mentioned below, within each category the scores are added, multiplied by ten, and divided by the total number of questions within the category. There are a few modifying dependencies, which are explained much more precisely than the main rule procedures. In a few cases, an answer yielding zero for one question voids another question; e.g. if the elections for the national legislature and head of government are not considered free (question 1), then the next question, “Are elections… fair?“, is not considered, but automatically scored zero. Likewise, there are a few questions considered so important that a low score on them yields a penalty on the total score sum for their respective categories, namely:

  1. “Whether national elections are free and fair”;
  2. “The security of voters“;
  3. “The influence of foreign powers on government”;
  4. “The capability of the civil servants to implement policies””.

While we are still a democracy, I would expect that we have been in a state of decline in recent decades while others have been on the improve. It is interesting that our lowest score is on the elements that make up the “functioning of government”.

Registered Voters & The Electoral College

Registered Voters & The Electoral College

Our country’s current population is roughly 328 million and increasing at the moderate annual rate of .8%. Currently all of our growth rate is due to immigration as our death rate is slightly higher than our birth rate.

There are currently 229 million persons over the age of 18 (potential voters) and 200 million are registered to vote. Voter registration is up by 54 million since 2000! There are currently 157 million in our workforce. The very rough breakdown of the registration is: Democrats = 82 million, Republicans = 67 million & Independents = 51 million.

Following stats are from 2003 which is why the totals will not equal our 2019 population, but the ratios are still roughly the same. The electoral college allows for a vote for each Representative and each Senator. I have The intention was to give the smaller (by population) states more influence. Note that Wyoming has more than 3 times the number of votes, per capita, as compared to California:

States 2004 Population 2004 Electoral Votes % vs. National Average
Alabama 4,530,182 9   Reps: 6 Rep 1 Dem 108% 
Alaska 655,435 3            1 Rep 250%
Arizona 5,743,834 10          4 Rep 5 Dem 95%
Arkansas 2,752,629 6            4 Rep 119%
California 35,893,799 55          8 Rep 45 Dem 84%
Colorado 4,601,403 9            3 Rep 4 Dem 107%
Connecticut 3,503,604 7            0 Rep 5 Dem           109%
Delaware 830,364 3            0 Rep 1 Dem 197%
Dist. of Columbia 553,523 3            0 Rep 0 Dem 296%
Florida 17,397,161 27         14 Rep 13 Dem  85%
Georgia 8,829,383 15         10 Rep 5 Dem 93%
Hawaii 1,262,840 4            0 Rep 2 Dem 173%
Idaho 1,393,262 4            2 Rep 0 Dem 157%
Illinois 12,713,634 21          5 Rep 13 Dem 90%
Indiana 6,237,569 11          7 Rep 2 Dem 96%
Iowa 2,954,451 7            1 Rep 3 Dem 129%
Kansas 2,735,502 6            3 Rep 1 Dem 120%
Kentucky 4,145,922 8            5 Rep 1 Dem 105%
Louisiana 4,515,770 9            5 Rep 1 Dem 109%
Maine 1,317,253 4            0 Rep 2 Dem 166%
Maryland 5,558,058 10          1 Rep 7 Dem 98%
Massachusetts 6,4716,505 12          0 Rep 9 Dem 102%
Michigan 10,112,620 17          7 Rep 7 Dem 92%
Minnesota 5,100,958 10          3 Rep 5 Dem 107%
Mississippi 2,902,966 6            3 Rep 1 Dem 113%
Missouri 5,754,618 11          6 Rep 2 Dem 104%
Montana 926,865 3            1 Rep 0 Dem 177%
Nebraska 1,747,214 5            3 Rep 0 Dem 156%
Nevada 2,334,771 5            1 Rep 3 Dem 117%
New Hampshire 1,299,500 4            0 Rep 2 Dem 168%
New Jersey 8,698,879 15          1 Rep 11 Dem 94%
New Mexico 1,903,289 5            0 Rep 3 Dem 143%
New York 19,227,088 31          6 Rep 21 Dem 88%
North Carolina 8,541,221 15     9 Rep 3 Dem 1 Open 96%
North Dakota 634,366 3            1 Rep 0 Dem 258%
Ohio 11,459,011 20          10 Rep 4 Dem 95%
Oklahoma 3,523,553 7             4 Rep 1 Dem 108%
Oregon 3,594,586 7             1 Rep 4 Dem 106%
Pennsylvania 12,406,292 21           8 Rep 10 Dem 92%
Rhode Island 1,080,632 4             0 Rep 2 Dem 202%
South Carolina 4,198,068 8             5 Rep 2 Dem 104%
South Dakota 770,883 3             1 Rep 0 Dem 212%
Tennessee 5,900,962 11           7 Rep 2 Dem 102%
Texas 22,490,022 34          23 Rep 13 Dem 83%
Utah 2,389,039 5             3 Rep 1 Dem 114%
Vermont 621,394 3             0 Rep 1 Dem 264%
Virginia 7,459,827 13           4 Rep 7 Dem 95%
Washington 6,203,788 11           3 Rep 7 Dem 97%
West Virginia 1,815,354 5             3 Rep 0 Dem 150%
Wisconsin 5,509,026 10           5 Rep 3 Dem 99%
Wyoming 506,529 3             1 Rep 0 Dem 323%

Only two states apportion their electoral votes (Maine & Nebraska) according to the popular vote. In all other states it is all or nothing. Consider the following example: Three candidates are on the ballot. The Democrat gets 39% of the popular vote, the Republican gets 38% and the Libertarian gets 23%. The Democrat receives all of that state’s vote. Note: there are a few states that require the winner to have at least 50%, but most do not.

There have only been three occasions when the winner of the presidential election did not win the popular vote:

In 1824, John Quincy Adams (Democratic-Republican) was elected president despite not winning either the popular vote or the electoral vote. Andrew Jackson was the winner in both categories. Jackson received 38,000 more popular votes than Adams, and beat him in the electoral vote 99 to 84. Despite his victories, Jackson didn’t reach the majority 131 votes needed in the Electoral College to be declared president. In fact, neither candidate did. The decision went to the House of Representatives, which voted Adams into the White House.

In 1876, Rutherford B. Hayes (Republican) won the election (by a margin of one electoral vote), but he lost the popular vote by more than 250,000 ballots to Samuel J. Tilden.

In 1888, Benjamin Harrison (Republican)  received 233 electoral votes to Grover Cleveland’s 168, winning the presidency. But Harrison lost the popular vote by more than 90,000 votes.

In 2000, George W. Bush (Republican) was declared the winner of the general election and became the 43rd president, but he didn’t win the popular vote either. Al Gore holds that distinction, garnering about 540,000 more votes than Bush. However, Bush won the electoral vote, 271 to 266.

In 2016, Donald Trump (Republican) won the electoral vote by 304 to 227 over Hillary Clinton, but Trump lost the popular vote. Clinton received nearly 2.9 million more votes than Trump, according to an analysis by the Associated Press of the certified results in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

Based on this history, if you are a Republican, you likely favor the electoral college method, but if you are a Democrat not! r