Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Get Your Head Around These Numbers

Thanks to Bush:
As of May 2007, U.S. taxpayers owed a rapidly rising $59.1 trillion in liabilities, or the equivalent of more than half a million dollars for every household.


In 2005, the wealthiest 1 percent of the country earned 21.2 percent of all income, according to IRS data, while the bottom 50 percent of all Americans earned just 12.8 percent of all income, down from 13.4 percent, a year earlier. 19 Together, these two figures define a new postwar record for American economic inequality, which is believed by many economists to be greater today than at any other time since the 1920s. For working people, wages and salaries now make up the lowest share of the nation's gross domestic product since the process of collecting this data began more than sixty years ago.

The media tends to treat these trends as merely the way the world works, but this is actually the essence of conservative ideology. As the political philosopher Michael Walzer pointed out in 1973:

At the very center of conservative thought lies this idea: that the present division of wealth and power corresponds to some deeper reality of human life. Conservatives don't want to say merely that the present division is what it ought to be, for that would invite a search for some distributive principle-as if it were possible to make a distribution. They want to say that whatever the division of wealth and power is, it naturally is, and that all efforts to change it, temporarily successful in proportion to their bloodiness, must be futile in the end.

One cannot help but ask: Why is this not the case in Europe or Japan? In fact, among major world economies, the United States in recent years has had the third-greatest disparity in incomes between the very top and everyone else; only Mexico and Russia are worse.

(courtesy of Altercation)


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