Barbara Ehrenreich - Kicking People When They're Down
The rise in New York’s poverty rate as a result of the ongoing recession has pushed nearly half of the city’s population into the ranks of the poor or near-poor. Ironically, the nation’s largest city is run by a multi-billionaire. Almost on the same day, another report came out saying “Hedge Fund Titans Get Lavish Paydays Stretching to Ten Figures.” People are immiserated and dumped into the streets because of decisions made downtown in the suites. Do we lend a helping hand to the poor? Barely. Let them eat op-eds about values and the virtues of hard work. There’s billions to fund the latest F-whatever fighter jet but scant little for people in distress. The pounding the needy are taking is particulary severe because much of the social safety net has been shredded. Can anyone say compassion and caring?
Chuck Collins - Income Inequality
Income inequality has soared to the highest levels since the Great Depression. And the Great Recession has done little to reverse the trend. In the first full year of the so-called recovery, the top 1 percent of earners took 93 percent of the income gains. The IMF warns, “Some dismiss inequality and focus instead on overall growth, arguing, in effect, that a rising tide lifts all boats. When a handful of yachts become ocean liners while the rest remain lowly canoes, something is seriously amiss.” Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate in economics says, “What worries me is the idea that we’re in a vicious cycle. Increasing inequality means a weaker economy, which means increasing inequality, which means a weaker economy.” Certainly the Occupy Movement raised consciousness about this issue. But the political class has done little to address it. What can be done?
Joseph Stiglitz - The Age of Inequality
Trickle-down neo-liberal economics has not worked. Well, not exactly. It’s worked beautifully for the rich. U.S. income inequality has returned to levels not seen since the 1920s. The top 1% rakes in one-fourth of the national income and has assets equivalent to half the national wealth. The Age of Inequality began in earnest more than 30 years ago. Wages, which had been constantly rising, flattened out. Families got hooked on the new money: credit cards. Debt skyrocketed. Workers took second jobs to make ends meet. The huge transfer of wealth upwards was accompanied by attacks on unions. Recall Reagan’s first action was to break a union. Then corporations started outsourcing, moving high paying jobs overseas. Throw in tax cuts and subsidies and you have a poisonous economic cocktail for the average worker. Inequality poses serious questions about the nature of democracy, fairness and economic justice.
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