Thursday, October 21, 2010
Social Class and Income Share in the US
The above is from a post by Matt Iglesias on his blog Think Progress. It shows how the share of total income for each segment of society has changed in the past 30+ years. Effectively everybody has been stagnant except for the ultra-rich.
What this graph doesn't show is how obscenely skewed the maldistribution truly is. It shows the top 1% with a runaway growth in their income share. But this is peanuts compared to the top 0.1% or the 0.01% income. The richer a group is, the more it has seized. While 99% of the population has been stagnant, a very small number have become rich beyond their wildest dreams.
Yglesias doesn't talk about the consequence of this. This represents the counter-revolution to the cultural revolution of the 1960s. The 1960s pushed hard for a freer, more open society with economic benefits widely shared. Unfortuntely this idealism came just before things turned viciously sour when Johnson, then Nixon, pushed a meaningless and fruitless war in Vietnam to the point where you had blood on the streets of America and an economy in shambles from a guns-and-butter strategy. This tanked the stock market and the economy. This led to a counter-revolution by the wealthy. They seized partial control under Nixon but his excesses toppled him. The real counter-revolution came with Reagan. That is what the above graph demonstrates. The thirty years of "trickle down" economics has left the bottom 99% of the population parched and starving while the ultra-rich are laughing all the way to the bank.
The counter-revolution is now well entrenched with billionaires freely able to buy elections. The techniques are well-honed. They use social conservatives (and now the riled up Tea Party) to "rouse the base" and get out the vote. But the vote puts in place not social conservatives pushing an agenda. It puts in place bought-and-sold politicans who deliver tax cut after tax cut to their real employers: the ultra rich. It has run the country into a ditch and bankrupted the government. But it won't stop until ordinary people catch on to how their country has been hijacked in the interest of the ultra-rich and the institutions of society have been used to handcuff the population in a dismal economy working harder, working longer for less so that more can be shifted into the pockets of the ultra-rich. It is a Ponzi scheme that has to end. It has gone on far too long.