from “Social Inequality in America: Widening Income Disparities,” by Vi Ransel, at Information Clearing House, from Global Research, 3/14/10:
…The mid-twentieth century “deal” between the “opulent minority,” the government and the people left the “opulent minority” with the lion’s share of the country’s wealth, but a little bit more of that wealth was shared with the workers who created it. The government was the referee who enforced the rules, and the years between the end of the Second World War and 1970 were America’s most prosperous overall, producing the largest, wealthiest middle class in history.
Americans assumed that this was the new normal, that a solid social contract was now standard operating procedure. But this overall prosperity was only a glitch in minority rule, a safety valve to stem the pressure of a popular, revolutionary mood that had been building since the Civil War and had come to a head during the Great Depression. Now the country is returning to its natural state, including the immense chasm between the incomes of the “opulent minority” and the rest of us, as squalor once again stands side by side with splendor.
“According to the United Nations Gini Coefficient, which measures the national distribution of family income, the US had the highest level of inequality of the highly industrialized countries, based on the data available in 2008. It was ranked slightly more unequal than Sri Lanka, and on a par with Ghana and Turkmenistan. (1)
In the 70s, US economic global supremacy was waning, in large part, due to increasing competition from Europe and Japan as they recovered from the devastation of World War II. This made the “opulent minority” rethink the New Deal-bone they’d tossed to the majority of Americans, and they brought in Ronald Reagan to put in force a Raw Deal that began a cascade of deregulation, privatization and consolidation that put America back astride the global economy by putting America’s wealth gap on the way back to the Gilded Age. Today the “opulent minority” appropriates everything it can get its hands on – “legally” – while the middle class holds on by its fingernails and the rest of us go over an economic Niagara Falls without a barrel into “Third” World-style poverty. Government is no longer the referee that promotes the general welfare. Government is the facilitator for the “opulent minority,” ensuring that they can extract every last penny from the people they impoverish.
Since 1980, the richest Americans have seen their incomes quadruple, while for the “lowest” 90% of us, incomes fell. The average wage is lower today than it was in the 1970s, while productivity has risen almost 50%. (2) In 1983 middle class debt held at 67% of income. In 2007, middle class debt had gone over the falls to 157% of income. (3) In 1950 the ratio of the average executive’s paycheck to the average worker’s was about 30 to 1. Since 2000 that average has ranged from 300 to 500 to one. (4)
“As of late 2009, the number of billionaires soared from 793 to 1,011, and their total fortunes from $2.4 trillion to $3.6 trillion. …Despite the crisis, the list of billionaires has grown by 200 people and their aggregate capital has expanded by 50%. This may seem paradoxical but only at first glance. …
read the full article at Information Clearing House