Friday Thread: Wealth distribution in the United States

This has been around for a while, but as it’s just been picked up by Mashable it’s doing the rounds… H/T Alasdair McKenzie on Google Plus.

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  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Would love to see someone do this for the UK …

    As Matt Johnson of The The “sang”, “Anyone can be a millionnaire, so everyone’s got to try.” The basic problem with unfettered capitalism.

    But fat chance of doing much about it in the States, they are fed from birth on the illusion that individual freedom is an absolute good that defines what it is to be American. There are countervailing narratives (e.g. through Christian teaching) alive, but they seem to thrive in civic and family life only. Even Obama has to be careful how far he can push his re-imagining of American values, lest it be identified with an attack on the soul of the nation.

  • Kevsterino

    this breaks at 14 seconds for me?

  • Kevsterino

    I managed to watch this today. I’m not surprised by it, and I must say that was a very clear presentation.

    The only thing lacking is leadership to get the truth out there and get people to act. Unfortunately, the political people are so corrupted and the education system is failing kids who earn pauper wages voting for Republicans because they think they’re on their side.

    So it goes.

  • Mick Fealty

    Understandable, but isn’t the ‘showing’ a form of leadership. Last week’s #digitallunch on “why politicians lie” talks about how politicians become invested “political truths” that are in fact “untruths”.

    Jason O’Mahony had a good piece on this:

  • Greenflag

    Sorry I missed this one and thanks for the link . Not that it’s a surprise but the message is one that needs to be addressed by ALL our politicians of the left , right and centre. .

    Like MU I would love to see a UK and Ireland ‘distribution ‘ graphic .

    What’s undeniably true is the long term trend since the mid 1970’s with a huge shift towards the 1% to 5% minority in the last decade -much it accomplished by barely legal financial transactions that would have been judged ‘criminal’ 25 years ago . Even during Ronald Reagan’s Presidency some 1,000 financial executives did jail time as a result of the Savings & Loans financial scandal in the 1980’s -which in retro was chicken feed in comparison to the wholesale looting which is now endemic to Wall St & the City .

    So was /is Karl Marx right after all ? We can say sayonara to Francis Fukuyama’s ‘End of History’ published shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall . History never ends

    From the ‘right ‘ the message is smaller Government -less taxes on the rich -ever more incentives for big corporations -corporate welfare by another name ? For the 80% of the population whose ‘spending ‘ is supposed to keep the economy afloat it’s a different story .

    Effectively no real wage increase for a decade or more – fewer highly paid jobs -increasing health insurance premiums and educational costs .

    Back in the 1970’s the then prognosticators of the future predicted a coming Age of Leisure built by increasing productivity , technological innovation and effective wealth redistribution .

    Instead we have seen a slow emisseration of the middle classes everywhere and increasing hopelessness amonst those at the bottom of the economic pyramid .

    Current neo con economics will merely make the current situation worse . Not content with owning 50% of the wealth of the USA the top 1% will eventually accumulate 75% to 90% in another decade if current right wing neo con politicians have their way . The other side of that coin is that many tens of millions of Americans will be forced ever lower down the income hierarchy and the American elite will have the money (which they already have now -to buy the ‘medical expertise and scientific brains that the new economy needs and which cannot find them in the USA for reasons which go right back to the funding of American third level and elementary level education .

    On the other side the established ‘left ‘ have left the economic struggle to curry favour with the plutocracy .

    The other side to the relative emisseration of the West is that in China in 2013 there are one million millionaires built on the back of authoritarian one party state capitalism . But half of those are looking to ‘secure ‘ their new wealth by moving themselves and /or their children to the West . There is growing unease at the huge wealth disparities in China today .

    We forget the Ireland of the 1960’s .In pre EU days (1965/66) there were 119 people in the entire country earning more than 10,000 pounds(sterling back then ) a year . There were 3,728 people assessed for surtax i.e those earning over 3,000 pounds a year in 1966.

    The contrast with today’s Ireland despite it’s current setback is astonishing .

    So three cheers for capitalism , free trade and the EU ? Well yes -it certainly beat the gloom of Dev’s ‘frugal ‘ Republic where 40,000 young people had to emigrate every year to find employment .

    In today’s world we see increasingly in the West the return of ‘indentured ‘ servitude to call it by it’s proper name. Those who have jobs are forced to work longer for less -and those who are employed are seeing previous benefits be they health or pension being whittled away by the largest corporations while the smaller companies cannot afford to provide them given the cost .

    In todays ‘Brave New World ‘it’s a case of
    To them that hath it shall be given and to them that hath not -even that which they haven’t got -will be taken from them ‘

    And so it will goes until at some point the contradictions within current financial sector led capitalism will lead to it’s end in history .

  • Greenflag

    Jason O’Mahony’s article linked above sums up the GOP dilemma and indeed the Democratic equivalent .

    Does anybody know why the GOP seem to hate the American people apart of course from the 1% ? While there are some far sighted individuals among the actual 1% there seems to be absolutely no concept among large sections of the GOP of how ordinary Americans live their lives .

    They make the French aristocratic Bourbons prior to 1789 look positively progressive 🙁

  • Kevsterino

    Mick, I agree with Mr. O’Mahony’s conclusion: “So here’s the truth: capitalism and wealth redistribution (whilst protecting incentive) are not and should not be mutually exclusive. Wealth redistribution is the grease that oils the wheels of belief in the free market, and there is a need for a new generation of centre-right free-market political leaders to say so. ”

    We haven’t heard anything like this from center-right politicians in the United States.

  • Greenflag

    ‘We haven’t heard anything like this from center-right politicians in the United States..

    Nor indeed from those on the left or centre left be they in the USA or in the EU .The only countries where there is even an attempt at ‘redistribution ‘are the Scandinavian countries and perhaps Australia & Canada & Japan .

    I read that one of Obama’s platforms for the mid terms will be a ‘raising ‘ of the minimum wage for low income Americans ? But a lot more than that will be required if Americans are to regain what they have lost in the past couple of decades particularly in health and education where the USA languishes well down the field of developed countries with the exception of the top 10% or so of the population.