Thursday, October 20, 2011

Who Owes Whom? Rampant Inequality in the American Economy and Unemployment, Corporate Profits, Wages, Income, Wealth, Executive Compensation, Average Hourly Earnings, Social Mobility

Take a look at these economic charts. Does your Congressional representative or candidate KNOW these facts, and if NOT, WHY NOT? And are you thinking of voting for someone who will CORRECT the situation, or make it worse?

As a political CENTRIST, favoring neither the GOP or the Dems, and without any allegiance to ANY political party, we continue to be appalled by the current imbalance in the U.S. economy and the inability of extremist political elements and candidates of Republican and Democratic parties in U.S. politics to recognize the obvious problems and their equally obvious, if painful solutions.

Henry Blodget at LinkedIn has a selection of 4 key charts from the BusinessInsider at
Here Are The Four Charts That Explain What The Protesters Are Angry About.

Actually, the slide show at BusinessInsider has 41 slide show pages, including numerous charts, essentially covering the following parameters:

1. The U.S. Unemployment Rate is at a record high rate, similar to 1980

The first chart shows the civilian unemployment rate (UNRATE) from the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is at a record high level corresponding to that early in the 1980's. This could be a cycle of about 31 years to my cyclical thinking, but there is no need for unemployment to hit as high as 10% (which as about 14 million people):

2. Wages as a Percentage of the Total Economy are at a Record Low

At the same time that unemployment is high, wages are at record lows.

3. Corporate Profits are at a Record High

And now comes the stunner. At the same time that unemployment is at a record high and wages are at a record low, corporate profits -- after taxes, mind you - have shot through the roof.

Based on the above statistic, America should be in great financial shape,
but neither wage-earners nor the government are sharing in the boom --
THEY are broke.

So where is that money going?
corporate investment?

measures to improve and modernize America????

-- not a chance.

Those profits are going in ever greater amounts to an increasingly smaller elite who are stuffing their private pockets with the NATION's money.

4. Corporate Execs Are Earning Record Amounts by Pilfering Corporations (most all of it quite legally of course, since ill-devised laws, regulations, and inadequate income taxation enable that pilfering)

Should laws fix salary caps for corporate executives, just as in sports?


No CEO should be compensated more than a maximum percentage of an average worker's pay in his company (we suggest 10 times the lowest annual salary paid in any company -- that would eliminate gross income inequality and raise salaries at the lower end of the scale, quickly).

Anything paid above a sensible percentage, such as existed in e.g. 1960, should be regarded as outright thievery, as a plundering of corporate coffers by those sworn to watch over them. Right now corporate governance is a myth. It is everyone for himself, grabbing as much as he or she can.

5. CEO Pay Tripled since 1990 While the Minimum Wage Dropped 10%

Beyond outright thievery, what other term can be applied to corporate officers filling their pockets with company money above and beyond any rational economic basis, other than simple private greed?

Why should the people at the top of corporations be cashing in millions upon millions in salaries and bonuses (for what? - those execs are all fungible), while the basic hourly wage -- adjusted for inflation -- has remained virtually constant the last 50 YEARS. No corporate executive should earn immensely more than what people in his company earn -- earnings should go into company investment in research, new products, new facilities, etc., and not into the pockets of company executives.

6. The Top Pilferers are found in the United States of America, as this chart of Top 0.1% Income Share shows in a comparison to top incomes in Canada, the United Kingdom, France and Japan.

7. Social Mobility has Drawn to a Halt in America

What is the consequence of America permitting the above things to happen?

For one thing, social mobility has become nearly zero. Rich remains rich and poor remains poor, and never the twain shall meet, with little chance of change. Indeed, a downward plunge seems more likely than an upward surge. The American Dream has become a fata morgana -- a mirage.

8. Income Inequality has become Rampant

One result of financial imbalance in America is that the United States now ranks 93rd in world income equality, behind Iran, and barely ahead of Mexico -- not really what the Founding Fathers had in mind nor what people imagine when they call America "the land of opportunity".

That idea of endless opportunity is "a has been". We have a friend here in Europe who travels extensively on business in the good old USA and his opinion is that "life in America is hard".

The top 20% of U.S. citizens own 93% of the financial wealth of the country, the bottom 80% of citizens own 7%, and, if we include things like immovable property, the top 5% of U.S. citizens own 60% of the net worth of the country:

9. Who Owes Who in America? The American Dream for a Small Elite

The prevailing legal, financial, economic and social regulatory system over the years has so much favored the rich and the wealthy in America that all that remains today for middle classes and the poor is DEBT.

Regardless of the contributions made to America over hundreds of years by countless Americans in peace and in war, contributions which MADE, PRESERVED, and SUSTAINED the nation, a small minority of greedy but clever people have managed to corner THE WEALTH of the nation for their own possession.

At the same time they have deployed THE DEBTS of the nation to those not having any wealth. The right column in the graphic below shows that the bottom 90% of the population (who own only about 10% of the nation's wealth), own 73% of the debt:

This is a system totally skewed from top to bottom in favor of small financial elites who enjoy "the American Dream" at the cost of their fellows.

10. Those Who Profit Most From the American System are Paying Fewer and Fewer Taxes

The whole financial situation in America is a scandal. Yet, many ignorant politicians and uninformed voters are attempting to worsen the situation, even though -- for the last 100 years! -- wealth in the top echelons has been steadily increasing and the amount of taxes they pay has been linearly decreasing, as this graphic shows:

If American roads are falling apart and the bridges are falling down, the reason is clear. -The money that is there is being spent for other things. America, for example, is the largest market for LUXURY goods in the world. America's wealth is not being spent to keep America a great country. It is being spent to pamper the luxury wishes and vanity of the rich and the wealthy.

By the way, we have nothing against riches, wealth or property, nor against the accumulation of them. We just think EVERYONE should have them, especially in America.

Attaining that objective is elementary -- you simply have to institute laws and regulations into the existing system that enable those objectives and that prohibit small minorities from hoarding all the goods.

Much higher taxation of energy use, of high income levels, of luxury housing and of luxury products is one way to raise a lot of the money that America needs for reconstruction.

The rich and the wealthy would not greatly suffer from such taxation.

Quite the contrary, when a greater percentage of people have jobs and own their own homes and property, society becomes safer and more livable for everyone. When poverty is rampant, modern society disintegrates and the law of the jungle rules. That is not what the Founding Fathers intended. Just ask U.S. Supreme Court Justice Scalia (a self-proclaimed expert on intentions of the Founding Fathers).

See also:

Government Finance and the Question of Who Owes Whom? Everyone Talks About Government Debt but No One Talks About the Creditors

Laughing All the Way to the Bank - Dwight Garner reviews I.O.U.: Why Everyone Owes Everyone and No One Can Pay - by John Lanchester

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