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We’re SO Not #1

Good news Americans! Trickle down economics is finally moving toward it’s intended goal. No no, not the bullshit fantastical republican goal of making everyone prosper, but the real goal of redistributing all of the country’s earnings up to the top 1% and creating bonafide Russian style American oligarchs. If you’re paying any attention at all, you’re aware that wages have remained flat for the past thirty years, while productivity has exploded. From 1989 – 2009, the hourly wage of the median worker grew by 10.1%, while productivity grew by 80%. The lion’s share of that wage growth happened in the mid to late 90s.

Still, we’re the "wealthiest nation in the world" because of all that productivity, but you’re not getting wealthier. Your kids probably won’t get wealthier, but the the wealthy are getting wealthier at an accelerated pace. What does that mean in relative terms? It means that as a nation, we’re getting wealthier but our median per capita income is no longer the highest in the world. Wanna take a guess who’s #1 now? If you’re a republican, still clinging on to the massive amount of bullshit that you’ve been fed for the past thirty years, I guarantee that you’ll never guess. Why? Because the answer demolishes everything you’ve been told about both trickle down economics, and "socialism".

Canada now has a higher average per capita median income than the United States does. Seems like that socialist health care hasn’t turned Canada into an impoverished post apocalyptic hellscape after all. The per capita median income in the US hasn’t changed at all since 2000 (when adjusted for inflation). The per capita median income in Canada has gone up twenty percent over that same period.

income

What happened? I thought the Bush/ Obama tax cuts on the top earners was supposed to create a utopia of economic prosperity, what with the trickling down and all? How long am I supposed to wait for my prosperity? It’s been thirteen fucking years? Where’s mine?

Why is this happening? From an article in the New York Times yesterday;

Americans between the ages of 55 and 65 have literacy, numeracy and technology skills that are above average relative to 55- to 65-year-olds in rest of the industrialized world, according to a recent study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, an international group. Younger Americans, though, are not keeping pace: Those between 16 and 24 rank near the bottom among rich countries, well behind their counterparts in Canada, Australia, Japan and Scandinavia and close to those in Italy and Spain.

But that’s not all;

A second factor is that companies in the United States economy distribute a smaller share of their bounty to the middle class and poor than similar companies elsewhere. Top executives make substantially more money in the United States than in other wealthy countries. The minimum wage is lower. Labor unions are weaker.

And because the total bounty produced by the American economy has not been growing substantially faster here in recent decades than in Canada or Western Europe, most American workers are left receiving meager raises.

And;

Governments in Canada and Western Europe take more aggressive steps to raise the take-home pay of low- and middle-income households by redistributing income.

Janet Gornick, the director of LIS, noted that inequality in so-called market incomes — which does not count taxes or government benefits — “is high but not off the charts in the United States.” Yet the American rich pay lower taxes than the rich in many other places, and the United States does not redistribute as much income to the poor as other countries do. As a result, inequality in disposable income is sharply higher in the United States than elsewhere.

But we’re doing the opposite in the US. We’ve made an education harder to obtain by allowing colleges to jack up tuition exponentially faster than the rate of inflation. We’ve kept the minimum wage so low that it’s worth (in terms of buying power) about 60% of what is was worth in 1968 when it was at its peak. We keep cutting social safety nets because we’re told that we need to in order to save our economy, while countries that spend more money on helping the poorest citizens are passing us by in median income.

One big country in Europe is also experiencing stagnating wages; Germany. Why? Because Germany exports a lot of crap and in order to keep the cost of their crap low, they’ve taken a number of measures to keep wages down. They’re trying to compete with the sweat shops in China. Why? Because as long as you can buy cheap crap, it’s easier to maintain the illusion of wealth. When you can buy a blu ray player for $50 bucks, you’re not really poor because you don’t feel the poorness. 

The stagnating wages in the US and in Germany aren’t an accident or an unintended consequence. This is happening by design. And while republicans are telling you that "government can’t do anything", they’ve created a government that is robbing you blind.

I created this meme last year;

Tax Distribution copy

I spent days getting the corporate subsidy numbers together. I left out a metric ton of corporate subsidies because I wasn’t confident I was able to find all of them. They’re insidiously buried in thousands of bills that ostensibly have nothing to do with the industry that the bill is about. I know I didn’t get all of the big agra subsidies, or the big pharma subsidies so I left them out. I didn’t include these subsidies either since they come out of your state taxes, rather than your federal taxes;

Walmart

I used the smallest number I could fine in every category I listed. I explained how I came up with these numbers ad nauseam and yet, I got more push back for this meme than anything else I’ve ever said or posted. I wrote about a report that Oxfam published a few months ago, where they found that the 85 richest people in the world possess the same wealth as the bottom 3.5 billion people. I write about income inequality and how the game is rigged a lot. And every time I do, I get push back from a small minority of people that just don’t want to believe what their own lying eyes are telling them. Fortunately, these people are "special" (by special, I mean touched). They’re a small minority. Only 30% of Americans think that we’re on the right path. This number isn’t low because of Obama, it’s been low for fifteen years now. The most disengaged and uninformed American knows that something is horribly wrong here, even if they don’t specifically know that the Dow has doubled since the economic collapse, while we still have a much higher than ideal unemployment rate.

Our poor are more poor than the poor in other countries. From the Times article;

More broadly, the poor in the United States have trailed their counterparts in at least a few other countries since the early 1980s. With slow income growth since then, the American poor now clearly trail the poor in several other rich countries. At the 20th percentile — where someone is making less than four-fifths of the population — income in both the Netherlands and Canada was 15 percent higher than income in the United States in 2010.

Our rich are much richer than the rich in most other countries;

By contrast, Americans at the 95th percentile of the distribution — with $58,600 in after-tax per capita income, not including capital gains — still make 20 percent more than their counterparts in Canada, 26 percent more than those in Britain and 50 percent more than those in the Netherlands. For these well-off families, the United States still has easily the world’s most prosperous major economy.

Fortunately, more and more Americans are realizing this because they see it every day. I’m going to keep writing about this because I believe that the income inequality in America is going to be our downfall. I’m going to keep pointing out the thousands of ways the game is rigged against you, and I’m going to look forward to the day when I don’t get any stupid comments from the touched ones that can’t accept the reality in which they live because the Ayn Rand fantasy in their heads is much more appealing than actually doing something to improve their lot in life.

The game is rigged. It’s rigged, it’s rigged, it’s rigged and you’re on the wrong side of the rigging.       

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2 thoughts on “We’re SO Not #1

  1. I am new to your site as someone recently posted this particular article of yours on Facebook. I agree with your comments. What I would like to know is what was your source for the meme you created in which you state that the amount someone making $50,000 a year pays toward corporate welfare is $4,000. I don’t disagree with that statement, I would just like to know how you arrived at it. I ask because having mentioned it to several of my friends some of them have asked that questioned and, frankly, I don’t know the answer. I look forward to your reply and thank you for a terrific website.

    • Here’s what I did; Believe it or not, the IRS site had a different number than the White House site (and the numbers are lower because the payroll tax holiday was still in place). I spent days getting these numbers together. Where there were differing numbers I ALWAYS took the lowest number (that includes defense AND corporate subsidies).

      This link contains ALL of the corporate subsidies I used; https://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/09/23

      I LEFT OUT ENTIRELY corp subsidies like cleaning up the gulf after BP, LOTS of big ag subsidies, getting drinking water to cities whose water was contaminated by fracking, providing food stamps and medicaid to low wage workers, agricultural subsidies, etc. I fell down a 2 day long rabbit hole on those (especially the agriculture subsidies that are buried in thousands of bills that have nothing to do with agriculture), but ultimately decided NOT to include them.

      Here are some examples of the subsidies that I left out: http://billmoyers.com/2014/01/16/ten-examples-of-welfare-for-corporations-and-the-ultra-rich/

      http://www.walmartsubsidywatch.org/

      That last one is unique to Walmart, but ALL of the big box stores get similar subsidies. I left those out because technically, they come out of your state and municipal taxes, rather than federal taxes.

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