Category: income disparity
People who are poor get ripped off in many ways that people with money would never tolerate. That is the point of this article at Alternate, 8 Ways Being Poor is Wildly Expensive in America. The sharply higher costs of having a place to live, food to eat and a means of getting around are merely the first 3 of the 8.
Here’s where free market fundamentalism leads us: dulled consciences and oppression of those on the brink of homelessness.
From the U.K. Guardian:
Some of the richest people in the US, including billionaires Warren Buffett and Sam Zell, have made millions from trailer parks at the expense of the country’s poorest people. Seeing their success, ordinary people from across the country are now trying to follow in their footsteps and become trailer park millionaires. The Guardian went to Orlando to learn the tricks of the trade from Frank Rolfe, the self-appointed dean of Mobile Home University, as he led would-be investors around a trailer park for sex offenders.
According to this article in Slate, Americans are ignorant of how outrageous wealth disparity is in the United States:
According to the Harvard study, most people believe that the top 20 percent of the country owns about half the nation’s wealth, and that the lower 60 percent combined, including the 20 percent in the middle, have only about 20 percent of the wealth. A whopping 92 percent of Americans think this is out of whack; in the ideal distribution, they said, the lower 60 percent would have about half of the wealth, with the middle 20 percent of the people owning 20 percent of the wealth.What’s astonishing about this is how wrong Americans are about reality. In fact, the bottom 80 percent owns only 7 percent of the nation’s wealth, and the top 1 percent hold more of the country’s wealth – 40 percent – than 9 out of 10 people think the top 20 percent should have. The top 10 percent of earners take home half the income of the country; in 2012, the top 1 percent earned more than a fifth of U.S. income – the highest share since the government began collecting the data a century ago.
Rolling Stone points out that, despite some huge problems with his proposed solutions, Marx was correct about these ill-effects of capitalism.
1. Capitalism’s Chaotic Nature
2. Imaginary Appetites
3. The Globalization of Capitalism
5. The Reserve Army of Industrial Labor
Mike Morris offers us a timely proposal at his website, Funmentionables. The article, complete with Mike’s brand of Bible quoting humor, ends ominously with a declaration that there are two Americas. Here’s his opening which, in his hallowed tradition, he supports with Bible chapter and verse:
On January 28, 2014, Representative Michael Grimm (R-NY-11) issued a direct verbal threat to a reporter inside the Capitol building by saying “I’ll break you in half” and “throw you off this f—ing balcony,” which was a direct violation of D.C. law (District of Columbia Official Code, Division IV, Title 22, Subtitle I, Chapter 4, § 22-407): “Whoever is convicted in the District of threats to do bodily harm shall be fined not more than $ 500 or imprisoned not more than 6 months . . .”
Rep. Grimm was never arrested for his actions, and Congress has taken no punitive action against him. By its inaction, the US Congress is essentially condoning a Congressperson’s right to threaten to kill average Americans, though conversely, when average Americans threaten the life of a public official, they are prosecuted to the full extent of the law. In keeping with this double standard and to codify for all time this special status, I propose the following:
Expressing support for designation of January 28, annually, as “Throw a Reporter “Off This F—ing Balcony” Day”.
The Washington Post reports on the Pope’s recent writing on economic policy:
In the first lengthy writing of his papacy — also known as an “apostolic exhortation” — Francis says such economic theories naively rely on the goodness of those in charge and create a “tyranny” of the markets.
“In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world,” the pope wrote. “This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.”
The more I hear about “quantitative easing,” the more it is clear that it amounts to fucking with our nation’s currency in a dangerous way. It’s making me queasy, and like many things, there’s very little straight talk in the mainstream media.
I’ve recently run across a few things that amount to some straight talk. Here’s one, and here’s the other:
Based on the work of Robert Sapolsky, the dominance of society by alphas cause the have-nots to suffer stressed-induced deteriorating health. When those alphas died off due to eating tainted meat, the entire troupe benefited, becoming more social and gentle. Fascinating findings that appear to apply to humans too.
Are rich people jerks? We need to be careful before generalizing, but some recent studies suggest that being monied tends correlate with insensitivity to the needs of others. There are many exceptions to the rules, of course. Many wealthy people dedicate their lives to helping the poor or the politically oppressed. The tendency is the opposite, however. Another caveat is the direction of causation: Is it that the money corrupts or is it that the type of people who obsess about their own material cravings tend to accumulate more money. Here’s an excerpt from an article by Joshua Holland at Moyers & Company (A Plutocracy Ruled by Self-Centered Jerks?”):
In one telling experiment, the researchers observed a busy intersection, and found that drivers of luxury cars were more likely to cut off other drivers and less likely to stop for pedestrians crossing the street than those behind the wheels of more modest vehicles. “In our crosswalk study, none of the cars in the beater-car category drove through the crosswalk,” Piff told The New York Times. “But you see this huge boost in a driver’s likelihood to commit infractions in more expensive cars.” He added: “BMW drivers are the worst.”
Summing up previous research on the topic, Piff notes that upper-class individuals also “showed reduced sensitivity to others’ suffering” as compared with working- and middle-class people.
Lower-class individuals are more likely to spend time taking care of others, and they are more embedded in social networks that depend on mutual aid. By contrast, upper-class individuals prioritize independence from others: They are less motivated than lower-class individuals to build social relationships and instead seek to differentiate themselves from others.