Thursday, August 25, 2016

Wealth Inequality - it's Real! (Updated!)

Greetings again. I saw a headline about the recently-released Congressional Budget Office report in the site I use as my home page, But I haven't seen too many other online stories about it (shouldn't be surprising, I guess).  CNN Money had the first other report I found, and the Washington Post has one (but they're behind a paywall :-(   There are some other articles, but some of the sources didn't sound as though I wanted articles by that outlet, so I'm going here with the CNN article.  The facts, yes, facts, that it lays out are pretty striking and in some ways quite stark.

The article seems to do a very good job of highlighting the results about wealth inequality, but beware of the autoplay video.  You can read the article here .

Key reveals:

  • the top 10% of families had 76% of the total wealth in 2013
  • the bottom 50% held only 1% of the total wealth
  • the top 10% of families saw their share of the wealth grow from around 2/3 to the just over 3/4 reported above, during the period from 1989 - 2013.  Can you now guess what happened to the share of the 'bottom'  90% during the same period?

And now here's another infuriating report - this time at The Intercept.  Check out: 
20 Years Later, Poverty Is Up... 
 Some statistics to consider:
  • Researchers Luke Shaefer and Kathryn Edin estimate that "1.5 million American households, including 3 million children, are today living at or below extreme poverty – double the number that it was in 1996."
  • 5.5 percent of American households — 6.7 million households in all — used a food bank or some other form of food charity in 2014. That’s the highest percentage since record-keeping on the matter began in 1995.
 We need to look around and ask some very tough questions about why this is so.  We need to look for ways to address the problems and open the economy and give folks more of a chance to rise.

  • We need to ask why big money is dominating politics and policy making, why reform hasn't happened, and how can we best make changes.

  • We need to look at reforming our tax structure so that the wealthy and corporations pay their share.  I guess everyone has forgotten the Panama Papers already.
  • We need to look at how we invest our resources.  Why do we spend so much on things such as drones, guns, and bombs instead of say,  supporting education.  Seems like a no-brainer to me.  Guns, drones and bombs just bring destruction, but investing in education would enable more citizens to become better able to make it in this economy, pay taxes and make positive contributions.

  • We need to make sure workers are getting LIVING wages.  Minimum wages need to keep up!

  • Related to the previous thought, we need to look at strengthening labor unions and increasing union membership.  It has been shown that unions not only help the members, but nonmembers as well!  Read this study by Cashman and Butcher . And this article from the Center for American Progress Action Fund  as well!

  •  We need to ask why the media hardly covers issues of poverty, wealth and economic inequality, and food insecurity and demand media outlets do better.
Here's a new report from Economic Policy Institute on how the declning strength of unions hurts us all. 
Any further ideas?  Please share in comments!
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