These courtesy of Nicholas Kristoff:
According to the C.I.A.’s own ranking of countries by income inequality, the United States is more unequal a society than either Tunisia or Egypt.
Three factoids underscore that inequality:
- ¶The 400 wealthiest Americans have a greater combined net worth than the bottom 150 million Americans.
- ¶The top 1 percent of Americans possess more wealth than the entire bottom 90 percent.
- ¶In the Bush expansion from 2002 to 2007, 65 percent of economic gains went to the richest 1 percent.
As my Times colleague Catherine Rampell noted a few days ago, in 1981, the average salary in the securities industry in New York City was twice the average in other private sector jobs. At last count, in 2010, it was 5.5 times as much. (In case you want to gnash your teeth, the average is now $361,330.)
The really depressing thing is that this stuff isn't really that hard to fix. (1) Reintroduce progressive taxation ((a) fix the tax rate on derivatives, inheritances, and capital gains so that they are taxed the same as labor, (b) lift the cap on the amount of income that goes to "payroll taxes," and (c) raise the top marginal rates at least to what they were during Reagan's time), (2) raise the minimum wage and the earned income tax credit and then index them to inflation, (3) put people back to work by fixing the United States' dwindling infrastructure, paid for with the new taxes, and (4) reinstate the anti-usury laws, which until the last twenty years or so guaranteed that in the United States manufacturing was more profitable than financial mismanagement.
The really depressing thing is that none of these proposals should be in the least bit controversial to anyone who cares the least bit about the common good, but most of our politicians are too deluded and depraved to admit as much.