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.

Let’s Make America Great Again

Let’s Make America Great Again

There is nothing wrong with this slogan, but agreement on what this really means is in question. It seems that the intended meaning is to restrict immigration, company deregulation, reverse Roe v. Wade, shift more income and wealth to the top 1%, alienate our former allies, reverse our trend of “free trade” and provide support to the cause of “white” separatists.

I am not being critical, just stating the facts. Many folks completely support the aforementioned agenda which is their right. However, when I last checked, we still have a fairly democratic system and the majority do not support most of these actions.

Reliable data supports the following shortcomings in our country, if pursued, have the potential to “make America great again”:

  1. Quality, cost & availability of Healthcare (We have by far the highest per capita cost and rank 37th in quality of care. At the same time many citizens are not covered0
    1. An equitable living wage (income disparity and the lack of wage improvement)
    1. Climate change (mortgaging future generations for immediate gratification)
    1. The national debt (again we are mortgaging future generations for immediate gratification)
    1. Infrastructure (repair & upgrades)
    1. Comprehensive and effective immigration reform

The above is not a comprehensive list, but I contend that if we pursue them and enact reasonable legislation, we will be moving in a direction of improving our “greatness”.

Psychopathic Traits

Psychopathic Traits

Most of us will display one or more psychopathic traits. This does not mean that we are psychopaths. However, when a person displays half or more then there is a decent chance that the individual is extremely dangerous.

The twenty traits on the Hare Psychopathy checklist are:

  1. pathological lying     *                                        11. glib and superficial charm *
  2. grandiose sense of self    *                               12. need for stimulation *
  3. cunning and manipulative                                13. lack of remorse or guilt *
  4. shallow emotional response    *                   14. callousness and lack of empathy *
  5. parasitic lifestyle                                                  15.  poor behavioral controls *
  6. sexual promiscuity *                                      16. early behavior problems *
  7. lack of realistic long-term goals  *                 17. impulsivity *
  8. irresponsibility                                                     18. failure to accept responsibility *
  9. many short-term marital relationships      19. juvenile delinquency
  10. revocation of conditional release        20. criminal versatility

I have tagged (*) 13 of these traits. I have emphasized a few (7) of these traits in bold type. Does this remind you of anyone? There have been numerous cult leaders that possess a majority of these traits. Their followers were not bad people, just programmed to believe that their leader could do no wrong despite considerable evidence to the contrary. If you are aware of any leader that displays a majority of these traits I would encourage you not to drink the Kool Aid at the end.