Richest Americans grow richer (and, spoiler alert: poor grow poorer)

A Pew Research Center study out today shows that the modest economic growth following the so-called "Great Recession" has increased wealth inequality in America. The top 7% of American households enjoyed a 28% increase in net worth; the wealth of the other 93 percent declined. [Washington Post]


    1. The progressives are less than thrilled.

      And for people like the Koch brothers, too much money is never enough.

    2. Well I’m less than thrilled because I think trickle-down economics = human centipede, but I think that it profits the Koch brothers greatly to act less than thrilled because the actual anticipation of their future wealth increase if the illusion that Obama is some kind of liberal socialist can be maintained must be almost unbearably delightful.

      1. I think trickle-down economics = human centipede

        Gee, thanks. Now I have to wipe my drink off of my monitor.

    3. Ooooooh, you’re “confused!”

      Given the political climate, there is virtually nothing Obama could have done that could have bent the continuing arc of wealth-inequality.

      Raising taxes? Dramatically increasing the minimum wage? Imposing a fee on financial transactions? Eliminating the rules that let the wealthy pay privileged rates on dividend income? Direct federal funding of schools in impoverished areas? Getting rid of the loopholes that let wealthy slip overseas untaxed?

      All of those would get labelled as job-killed socialist meddling.

      1.  Have been labeled as such, actually. Obama is probably too conservative to actually propose most of those.

        By labeling a centrist like Obama a “socialist” (which is a dirty word, now that liberal has been somewhat reclaimed), the extreme right (Koch brothers, etc) get to pull the Overton window even further to the right even without winning elections.

        There’s also the gerrymandered House and the dysfunctional Senate, both of which prevent much progress of any kind. The last few congresses have been even more anti-progress than usual.

      2. Those are mostly things that the public wants, we can’t have Democrats and Republicans actually acting on what the citizens want! See background checks.

    4.  I will have to agree with Stefan Jones down below.  Prez Obama has been a complete failure, so far, in addressing wealth inequality in this country.  I’m not sure if he even has an idea of what a huge problem it is.


    5. Obama hasn’t deregulated every industry for the Kochs’ wishes and progressives ~aren’t~ pleased with all aspects of his terms. I don’t know why you’re confused here.

  1. Why am I not surprised by this news?  Same ol’ shit for the last 30 years or so.  Is there a way to reverse the trend? (It HAS happened before in US history).  If so, sign me up.  

    1. “Is there a way to reverse the trend?”

      Unions. A tax code that rewards actual work rather than passive rent-collecting. Penalties against outsourcing and shipping money overseas. Investment in modern, efficient infrastructure. An economic policy that favors innovation rather than protecting entrenched industries.

      1.  No, but I mean, really.  How?  Even middle-of-the-road people seem to be against  unions, meaningful tax reforms and any kind of investment in upgrading infrastructure.  Seriously, my powers of persuasion aren’t that great, and I have a limited capacity for beating my head against the wall.  At times, I do despair.

      2. yep.  Unions saved us from the doom asserted by Marx previously; they can do so again.   The main trouble currently is that the present generation has a weird knee-jerk aversion to unionizing  (occupy types, libertarians, anarchists, and business suits all spit at unions)  Did the koch-brothers manage to get something into all the school-lunches a decade ago?

        1. So this is an interesting one.  When organized labor first began it was a somewhat desperate revolutionary tactic and the initial response was to just try to crush it entirely.  That didn’t work and probably just bolstered support for anarchist and communist parties.  So the next response was to co-opt unions.  Basically organized labor became formalized both in terms of its own bureaucracy and how it interacts with the employer organization.

          At that point organized labor stopped being a revolutionary tactic and became part of the system.  This had some good effects and some bad effects.  Arguably labor unions had too much political power for their own good at one point leading to accrual of unsustainable benefits, salaries, and pensions — or at least this is what a lot of people believe.  Also, the formalization of the bureaucracies within unions led to opportunities for corruption.  It’s inarguable that labor unions have served as vehicles for organized crime for the last five or six decades at least.

          So there’s good reasons not to trust or respect unions.  Unfortunately it’s impossible to talk about “organized labor” without people thinking you’re talking specifically about the current incarnation of labor unions.  Maybe we just need a new form of organized labor now that unions have been discredited and defanged.

        2.  occupy types

          Whut the heck are you talking about?

          Labor and occupy are mutually supportive and very much on the same side in my city.

      3. What?  Are you a fucking communist*?  We can’t do any of those things! 

        *I kid.  If you are, so am I.  We should do all those things you mention, and spend a metric fuckton on education while simultaneously slashing the ever-loving crap out of the Pentagon’s budget.  

  2. Screw capitalism and laissez faire, this needs to be fixed and if Communism or Socialism can do it, then that would be awesome.

    We might be able to prevent that path by raising the damn minimum wage. It’ll cut from the top more than anything else.

    1. Not really. Raising minimum wage will only succeed in raising prices even further, while simultaneously eating away at both the middle class and all small businesses. Lowering taxes for the bottom 90% and making the 1%-ers actually pay their fucking share is the only way to stop the ever-increasing inequality. (Well, the only way that doesn’t involve pitchforks and torches, anyway…)

        1. The problem you’ll still run into is that the middle and lower stratum are divided. Thanks to careful vocabulary and having mouthpieces like Rush Limbaugh, the top have got the rest divided: The regular unwashed masses like you and me, and the unwashed masses who think they’re part of the top, and that the others (us) want what they have, and it is only through the power of Free Markets and Family Values™ that we’re kept in check because we’re lazy and would rather live off the fruits of others labor.
          We’re too polarized as a society and further distracted by this latest gun control circus to effectively resolve our differences anytime soon. It’s funny, this mass Stockholm Syndrome going on.
          So rather than getting the top to pay their dues, we’ll might just see civil strife and destruction while the wealthiest slink out the back door to other countries if we tried what you suggest, as much as I like it.

      1. Please go look up the (totally awesome!) states with the lowest (or no) minimum wages and get back to us with your unsubstantiated claims about raising it.

  3. This is not an American problem. It is a global problem. It is 30 years old. Neoliberal policies have been implemented globally and have created inequality and rent-seeking globally. Whether you call it Reaganomics or Thatcherism, it’s the same thing. It led to the Arab Spring. It has led students in even “successful” neoliberal states like Chile and Israel to protest over unaffordable housing and student debts. It’s immediate crises, the bank collapse of 2008 and The Great Recession, has I think already lasted longer than The Great Depression, with no plans like the New Deal to get us out of it. A green energy new deal would be the sensible option, but think what it will do to our oil stocks! Check out the carbon bubble for more.
    The economy is shit, but it’s working well enough for the people at the top, in finance and government. A slow recovery over 30 years is quite possible with a change in policy. (There is research to show inequality is pretty much entirely the result of policy choices.) However, what we need in this global community of neo-peasants is an acknowledgement we suffer under the same policies and global demands for change. Basically, Occupy was right and we suck because we listened to the news and failed to support them. Hell, the Bank of England even agreed Occupy was right. Nonetheless, Thatcher is dead and Thatcherism, in it’s moment of utter failure and collapse, is the resuscitated zombie that will eat our souls. It will ultimately end in violence and tears, certainly globally. The only people who are in a hopeful position is the Latin Americans, which we know are under a lot of covert pressure from the Kochs of the world to revert to the feudal model of oligarchy and peasants. Check out this Greg Palast report on the Venezuela elections.  
    Please pardon the over-excited brain dump. I just had my 3rd coffee.

    1. Uhhh I wouldn’t go around using terms like liberal or neo liberal when referencing the Global situation. Your point of view isn’t everyones. In Canada the Liberals did more to elevate the general population than any other party. It’s the conservatives that are stripping us of our rights and money and giving us nothing but lies misery and uncertainty. Words have power thats one of the ways that the feudal lords the world over keep opposition to them divided. I would rather have a liberal goviisn’t
      Canada than a conservative one. But I agree with most of you. This is world wide.

      1. Neoliberal is the correct term in this instance.  Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama are all neoliberals.  (Neoconservatism is a type of neoliberalism strangely enough.)

        Neoliberalism basically means “free trade whether you want it or not.”  If you’ve ever heard someone describe themselves as “fiscally conservative but socially liberal” you have met a neoliberal.

  4. Money works like a great sucking funnel.  The richer you are, the better your advisors are at making you richer.  Your connections are fantastic.  Rich people look to rich people to make them richer.  The more centered you can position yourself in the swirling vortex of cash, the more you make.

    To unlock it – get back to basics.  Build businesses from scratch, without external investment.  Do not take any investment.  Don’t IPO.  Basically, put a prophylactic sheath between your business and the financial community.  Treat your customers well.

    We’re more and more able to do this.  Additive manufacturing is collapsing the prices of manufacturing and shifting the economics back in favour of localised production.  Software is getting better and better and better.

    It’s not a political issue.  It’s a sociological issue.  Faced with the opportunity of being wealthy, or mega-rich, entrepreneurs are going the wrong way and feeding profit back into the very system that is, at a macro level, destroying the consumers they rely on.

  5. For commenters here proposing solutions: I’d like to recommend: rather than deal with the symptoms look for the sources. In my opinion it’s competition. Current economic system is based on that. Hence there are winners (rich) and losers (poor).

    So perhaps phase out propensities leading to such division?

  6. No one single political system works completely (or at least it doesn’t over time as it get corrupted) We need a new model that is a combination of many, a little democratic, a little  socialist  and even a little communism….every thing in moderation. This also applies to the uber rich, every thing in moderation. Right now they are suffering from an excess of gluttony and great hubris. No amount of money is enough for them and they think every idea they have is going to be accepted by everyone else simply because they are rich. 
    The government needs to stand up for the people who elected them, not just for the people who are paying them under the table. As Mr. W. Buffet said recently: “There’s class warfare, all right,” Mr. Buffett said, “but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

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