Foreign diplomacy: Michelle Obama vs. Mitt Romney


image: nomoretexasgovernorsforpresident

London 2012 Olympics: Are you watching Mitt? Michelle Obama gives a fun masterclass in diplomacy – Evening Standard: “As a lesson in good natured statesmanship – if not to say simple manners – it was a masterclass. For Michelle Obama cast aside stuffy protocol to join in the fun and games to celebrate today’s opening of the Olympic games with more than 1,000 children. The First Lady met the children – most of them from U.S. military families – in the grounds of Winfield House, the official residence of the U.S. ambassador in London. She was joined by David Beckham and Olympic gold-medal sprinter Carl Lewis who signed autographs. She said: “I’m so excited,” after jogging to the stage as a marching band played the University of Florida fight song. “I am thrilled to be here on London for the 2012 Olympic games. I am proud to be leading the U.S. delegation to the opening ceremony.””

Mitt Romney’s Olympics visit to London: ‘What a car crash… worse than Sarah Palin’ | Mail Online: “Top political figures in Britain have been queuing up to criticise Mitt Romney after he kicked off his first foreign tour by publicly questioning whether London would be able to run the Olympics smoothly. The most high-profile humiliation came when thousands of Brits jeered him after London’s Mayor Boris Johnson mocked him at a concert to mark the end of the Olympic Torch relay. However, behind the scenes officials were even more scathing about the Republican presidential hopeful, describing his visit as a ‘car crash’ and comparing him unfavourably to Sarah Palin. Another official who met with the former Governor of Massachusetts said he was ‘apparently devoid of charm, warmth, humour or sincerity’.”


First Lady Michelle Obama cheers on Team USA (via: chiakigrl)

I love our FLOTUS.

Happy Black Friday: CONSUME, Consumers!

Image above: what we do in America, our role in the world. Certainly can’t last forever though, with our ‘Rick-Perry-minimum-wage jobs’ or no jobs at all. If we don’t consume enough today, the one percent will need more tax cuts — which we’ll gladly pay for by allowing the GOP to cut our social safety net programs.

via: coalspeaker:

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Apparently pepper spray is the new Christmas tradition in the U.S.

“I heard screaming and I heard yelling. Moments later, my throat stung. I was coughing really bad and watering up.” — Porter Ranch, Los Angeles, California Wal-Mart customer Matthew Lopez • Describing what happened after another customer, who authorities say was “competitive shopping,” pepper sprayed 20 people (including children!) in an attempt to beat everyone else at getting stuff. Considering, you know, this incident and this incident, the usage of pepper spray seems incredibly ironic. Authorities are looking for the person who sprayed her fellow shoppers in efforts to buy a new Xbox 360 or something similar. Humanity sucks sometimes. source (via: shortformblog)

More from nationalpost:

Twenty injured after woman pepper sprays L.A. Black Friday shoppers in act of ‘competitive shopping’

Twenty people, including children, received minor injuries after a woman reportedly pepper sprayed other shoppers at a Los Angeles-area Walmart store on Thursday as late-night Black Friday sales began in the United States and Canada.

Calling it an act of “competitive shopping,” a fire captain told the Los Angeles Times the woman had intentionally taken the pepper spray with her to the department store in Porter Ranch to get the edge on her fellow shoppers.

She used the pepper spray in several areas of the store, Los Angeles Fire Capt. James Carson told the Times.

At least seven of the shoppers were receiving medical care; areas of the store were reportedly evacuated after the incident. Victims reported irritation of the skin, eye and throat. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

Police were forced to use pepper spray to control a crowd at a Kinston, North Carolina, Walmart..


image: flickr

The top 1% owns more wealth than the bottom 90%, earns more income than the bottom 50%

And this bleak income disparity isn’t going to turn around anytime soon:

With the top one percent of the population now owning more wealth than the bottom 90% [and the top one percent earns more income than the bottom 50 percent], the acceleration of wealth to the top could easily intensify, not mitigate. Some might argue that the more natural state of mankind, unchecked by taxation, is not equality, but concentration, in which just a few families ultimately are able eventually to assume command of all wealth. So it was in the Gilded Age, when a few families came to control whole industries. Why has this concentration of wealth occurred only recently in the U.S.? It’s hard not to suspect that the reduction of the estate, income, dividend and capital gains tax rates on the upper reaches of wealth, to the lowest level since those rates were raised at the outset of World War II, has had some influence. Why the Rich Get Richer | FrumForum

UPWARD MOBILITY? NOT IN AMERICA:
CHART OF THE DAY: Paul Ryan Wrong About Upwardly Mobile America

HERE ARE SOME LIES PAUL RYAN DELIVERED to the Heritage Foundation this week:

“We are an upwardly mobile society with a lot of income movement between income groups,” he argued. “Telling Americans that they’re stuck in their current station in life, that they’re a victim of circumstances beyond their control, and that the government’s role is to help them cope with it — that’s not who we are, that’s not what we do.”

That is what they do in class-riven Europe, he said, where “Top-heavy welfare states have replaced the traditional aristocracies, and masses of the long-term unemployed are locked into the new lower class. The United States was destined to break out of this bleak history.”

Turns out that is — not true.

There are a lot of data available on this issue, but the clearest chart (above) comes courtesy of the Economic Mobility Project, which looked at the correlation between parent and child income in various countries. Turns out in America, you’re more likely to stay rich if born rich, and stay poor if born poor, than you are in most European countries.

Read more…

Let the eagle soar.

What does the 1 percent actually cost the U.S. government and the #99percent?

TAX CUTS FOR WEALTHY AMERICANS COST TREASURY $11.6 MILLION EVERY HOUR

“Tax cuts for the wealthiest five percent of Americans cost the U.S. Treasury $11.6 million every hour, according to the National Priorities Project. America’s top earners will get an average tax cut of $66,384 in 2011, while the bottom 20 percent will get an average cut of $107. The report comes as party leaders wrangle over the best way to curb the nation’s budget deficit, protesters around the world demonstrate against income inequality and corporate greed and Republican presidential candidates offer their economic plans to voters.” (HuffPo via: gonzodave)

THE 1 PERCENT COST OUR GOVERNMENT $11.6 million every hour of every day.

CLICK this image:

HERE’S WHAT THE 1 PERCENT COST EACH OF US INDIVIDUALLY:

THE US NOW RANKS 93rd in the world in “income equality” behind China, India, and Iran. (crookedindifference via: lycanpedia)

WHO ARE THE 1 PERCENT?

Taken literally, the top 1 percent of American households had a minimum income of $516,633 in 2010 — a figure that includes wages, government transfers and money from capital gains, dividends and other investment income.

That number is down from peak of $646,195 in 2007, before the economic crisis…By contrast, the bottom 60 percent earned a maximum of $59,154 in 2010, the bottom 40 percent earned a max of $33,870, while the bottom 20 percent earned just $16,961 at maximum. As Annie Lowrey points out, that gap has grown wider over time: “The top 1 percent of households took a bigger share of overall income in 2007 than they did at any time since 1928.”

HOW COULD THE WEALTH GAP BE FIXED?

[...] There is no quick fix right now… Rebuilding the infrastructure, strengthening the scientific base, having an energy system that moves to a sustainable renewables, low-carbon economy, improving educational outcome so that more kids make it all the way through – those are 10-year projects, more or less. [...] I’ve been pretty impressed by the core trilogy of what opinion surveys say America wants: tax the top, end the wars [in Iraq and Afghanistan], and protect social spending. We ought to be going after the corporations that have, basically, a deal with the IRS that keep abroad what they earn abroad and they don’t pay any taxes on it. We should be taxing worldwide income, not just U.S.-based income.

Related:

America has not created a just society: “we’ve socialized losses and privatized gains”

cognitivedissonance: This isn’t capitalism. This is predation.

Joseph Stiglitz, Economist and Nobel Laureate, speaking to protesters in Zuccotti Park:

You are right to be indignant. The fact is the system is not working right. It is not right that we have so many people without jobs when we have so many needs that we have to fulfill. It’s not right that we are throwing people out of their houses when we have so many homeless people.

Our financial markets have an important role to play. They’re supposed to allocate capital, manage risks. But they misallocated capital, and they created risk. We are bearing the cost of their misdeeds. There’s a system where we’ve socialized losses and privatized gains. That’s not capitalism; that’s not a market economy. That’s a distorted economy, and if we continue with that, we won’t succeed in growing, and we won’t succeed in creating a just society.

Are Danes the happiest people on earth because they’re “socialists” — or is their capitalism more enlightened?

INCOME EQUALITY AND SOCIAL SAFETY NETS are two reasons usually cited for Denmark’s happiness. But cultural differences, from family to cooking to hairstyles, are some other reasons.

http://meemoo2.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/grow-danish-flag-danes-happy.jpg

Why Danes Are So Much Happier Than Americans

Danes… consistently rank as some of the happiest people in the world, a fact attributed at least in part to Denmark’s legendary income equality and strong social safety net.

Forbes recently cited another possible factor; the Danes’ “high levels of trust.” They trust each other, they trust ‘outsiders,’ they even trust their government. 90% of Danes vote. Tea party types dismiss Denmark as a hotbed of socialism, but really, they’re just practicing a more enlightened kind of capitalism.

In fact, as Richard Wilkinson, a British professor of social epidemiology, recently stated on PBS NewsHour, “if you want to live the American dream, you should move to Finland or Denmark, which have much higher social mobility.”

[...] we’re not these ‘holy people’ who can manage everything, we just have different ethics. We don’t subsidize corn like you do, and also, there is a 25% VAT. And it’s socially acceptable to leave work at around 4 or 5 o’clock and pick up your kids from school, go home, share a family meal. From a management point of view, if people have a nice family life, they’ll be more productive.

KT: Denmark is famous for having so much less income inequality; do kitchen workers in Danish restaurants make a decent salary?

TH: Yes, a dishwasher in Denmark gets $25 an hour.

KT: Do they get sick days and benefits, too?

TH: Yes, and a pension, and health care, and maternity leave. To me, the more equal your society is, the better it is for everybody. It’s not right for a country as rich as yours to have so many poor people. This thing with Americans and taxes, I don’t understand it.

I make quite a lot of money, I pay 67% tax on much of it, and I don’t mind. I like the idea that the girl who’s sitting next to my daughter, whose mother is a cleaning lady, has exactly the same opportunity to get an education that my daughter has. I don’t think that’s socialism. To me, that’s human decency. That girl didn’t choose her parents, why shouldn’t she have the same opportunities? Read more…

The United States of Indecency… with Liberty and Justice for ME

This article is both remarkable and infuriating. It’s remarkable because the facts about the working conditions in an Amazon warehouse really are a reflection of how many modern Corporatists / plutocrats treat their workers — as disposable and easily replaced. Oh, you won’t crawl through aisles to get 1 item every 30 seconds? I’ll bet someone else will…

It’s infuriating because it takes mainstream media’s usual ‘both sides do it’ tone. And, yes, both sides are uncivil to each other and undermine the Other. But for Christ’s sake, the struggle, insults, or incivility is not equal (or equally felt) when the Power is held by the Few, and those who support the Few are practically lobotomized by their twisted idea of a Republican Jesus and by a steady stream of Roger Ailes’ and AM hate radio’s successful brand of propaganda. There is no equivalent propaganda stream for the other side. Fox News and Rush Limbaugh are like the 21st century Tokyo Rose for America’s working- and middle-class — that is, IF Tokyo Rose had been able to broadcast on multiple TV and radio stations 24/7. (article via: azspot)

Anand Giridharadas | The Fraying of a Nation’s Decency

[...] Thanks to a methodical and haunting piece of journalism in The Morning Call, a newspaper published in Allentown, Pennsylvania, I now know why the boxes reach me so fast and the prices are so low. And what the story revealed about Amazon could be said of the country, too: that on the road to high and glorious things, it somehow let go of decency.

The newspaper interviewed 20 people who worked in an Amazon warehouse in the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania. They described, and the newspaper verified, temperatures of more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, or 37 degrees Celsius, in the warehouse, causing several employees to faint and fall ill and the company to maintain ambulances outside. Employees were hounded to “make rate,” meaning to pick or pack 120, 125, 150 pieces an hour, the rates rising with tenure. Tenure, though, wasn’t long, because the work force was largely temps from an agency. Permanent jobs were a mirage that seldom came. And so workers toiled even when injured to avoid being fired. A woman who left to have breast cancer surgery returned a week later to find that her job had been “terminated.”

The image of one man stuck with me. He was a temp in his 50s, one of the older “pickers” in his group, charged with fishing items out of storage bins and delivering them to the packers who box shipments. He walked at least 13 miles, or 20 kilometers, a day across the warehouse floor, by his estimate.

His assigned rate was 120 items an hour, or one item every 30 seconds. But it was hard to move fast enough between one row and the next, and hard for him to read the titles on certain items in the lowest bins. The man would get on his hands and knees to rummage through the lowest bins, and sometimes found it easier to crawl across the warehouse to the next bin rather than stand and dip again. He estimated plunging onto his hands and knees 250 to 300 times a day. After seven months, he, too, was terminated.

~~~*~~~

[...] Far beyond official Washington, we would seem to be witnessing a fraying of the bonds of empathy, decency, common purpose. It is becoming a country in which people more than disagree. They fail to see each other. They think in types about others, and assume the worst of types not their own.

It takes some effort these days to remember that the United States is still one nation.

It doesn’t feel like one nation when a company like Amazon, with such resources to its name, treats vulnerable people so badly just because it can. Or when members of a presidential debate audience cheer for a hypothetical 30-year-old man to die because he lacks health insurance. Or when schoolteachers in Chicago cling to their union perks and resist an effort to lengthen the hours of instruction for children that the system is failing. Or when an activist publicly labels the U.S. military, recently made safe for open homosexuals, a “San Francisco military.” Or when most of the television pundits go on with prefabricated scripts to eviscerate their rivals, instead of doing us the honor of actually thinking.

The more I travel, the more I observe that Americans are becoming foreigners to each other. People in Texas speak of people in New York the way certain Sunnis speak of Shiites, and vice versa in New York. Many liberals I know take for granted that anyone conservative is either racist or under-informed. People who run companies like Amazon operate as though it never occurred to them that it could have been them crawling through the aisles. And the people who run labor unions possess little empathy for how difficult and risky and remarkable it is to build something like Amazon.

What is creeping into the culture is simple dehumanization, a failure to imagine the lives others lead. Fellow citizens become caricatures. People retreat into their own safe realms. And decency, that great American virtue, falls away.

Read it all…

This Fox “News” screenshot speaks for itself:

How’d you like to work in an Amazon warehouse if you couldn’t retire until you’re 67?

Income inequality: USA is FOURTH highest / worst in the world

As the author says below, this is what happens when the wealthy live on the backs of the poor:

US Has Fourth-Highest Income Inequality Rate in the World

A recent report issued by Paris’  Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development analyzes the countries around the world with the highest income inequality rate, per capita. And guess where the United States sits? At number four — right after Chile, Mexico and Turkey. Given our country’s unemployment rate — noted today to have jumped unexpectedly last week –compared to our proportion of billionaires (of the richest people on the planet, the US claims four of the top ten), this doesn’t come as a huge surprise. But it does underscore what happens to a country in which the wealthy live on the backs of the poor — for evidence, check these Mother Jones charts that illustrate why Congress is friendlier to Wall Street than Main Street.

Highest (Worst) Income inequality Rates in the World (HuffPo)

1. Chile
2. Mexico
3. Turkey
4. United States
5. Israel
6. Portugal
7. United Kingdom
8. Italy
9. Australia
10. New Zealand

Source: sarahlee310 

Take a look at the facts of income inequality growth / bottom-to-top income redistribution over the past three decades:

Mother Jones: It’s the Inequality, Stupid!

WINNERS TAKE ALL: The superrich have grabbed the bulk of the past three decades’ gains.

How are the wealthy walking away with such a HUGE chunk of the national income? One reason is tax breaks paid for with spending cuts (I won’t even get into union busting, layoffs, useful idiots of the Republican base, offshoring, deindustrialization, hoarding money instead of creating jobs, and same job / lower wages). Not only is corporate tax lower than 99% of us pay on our income tax and payroll tax, but capital gains tax (income tax for the wealthy) is also much lower.

(See all graphs / charts at Mother Jones)

What can be done? Here’s a start:

The New York Times, “Obama to Offer Plan to Cut Deficit by Over $3 Trillion.

President Obama will unveil a deficit-reduction plan on Monday that uses entitlement cuts, tax increases and war savings to reduce government spending by more than $3 trillion over the next 10 years, administration officials said.

The plan, which Mr. Obama will lay out Monday morning at the White House, is the administration’s opening move in sweeping negotiations on deficit reduction to be taken up by a joint House-Senate committee over the next two months. If a deal is not struck by Dec. 23, cuts could take effect automatically across government agencies.

Mr. Obama will call for $1.5 trillion in tax increases, primarily on the wealthy, through a combination of closing loopholes and limiting the amount that high earners can deduct. The proposal also includes $580 billion in adjustments to health and entitlement programs, including $248 billion to Medicare and $72 billion to Medicaid. Administration officials said that the Medicare cuts would not come from an increase in the Medicare eligibility age.

Senior administration officials who briefed reporters on some of the details of Mr. Obama’s proposal said that the plan also counts a savings of $1.1 trillion from the ending of the American combat mission in Iraq and the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan.

In laying out his proposal, aides said, Mr. Obama will expressly promise to veto any legislation that seeks to cut the deficit through spending cuts alone and does not include revenue increases in the form of tax increases on the wealthy.

99% of us — along with our nation’s treasury — shouldn’t have to continue to suffer in order to further enrich the wealthiest 1%. No, the richest of the rich don’t work harder than the rest of us! No, IT ISN’T UNFAIR to require they pay what the rest of us do on income. No, the U.S. doesn’t JUST have a spending problem — we also have a revenue problem. And, no, funneling more wealth to the wealthiest in our society does not “trickle down’ to everyone else — OBVIOUSLY!

Isn’t three, long decades of this GOP bullshit enough? Time to turn the page.

America’s middle-class is being systematically wiped out

This is probably my favorite theme here, the subject I will constantly return to whenever possible — the warning that plutocrats and corporatists are wiping out the middle class in the U.S. (with the help of the Republican party and their base):

22 Statistics That Prove That The Middle Class Is Being Systematically Wiped Out Of Existence In America:

#1) According to a poll taken in 2009, 61 percent of Americans ”always or usually” live paycheck to paycheck, which was up from 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.

#2) The number of Americans with incomes below the official poverty line rose by about 15% between 2000 and 2006, and by 2008 over 30 million U.S. workers were earning less than $10 per hour.

#3) According to Harvard Magazine, 66% of the income growth between 2001 and 2007 went to the top 1% of all Americans.

#4) According to that same poll, 36 percent of Americans say that they don’t contribute anything to retirement savings.

#5) A staggering 43 percent of Americans have less than $10,000 saved up for retirement.

#6) According to one new survey, 24% of American workers say that they have postponed their planned retirement age in the past year.

#7) Over 1.4 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009, which represented a 32 percent increase over 2008.

#8) Only the top 5 percent of U.S. households have earned enough additional income to match the rise in housing costs since 1975.

#9) For the first time in U.S. history, banks own a greater share of residential housing net worth in the United States than all individual Americans put together.

#10) In 1950, the ratio of the average executive’s paycheck to the average worker’s paycheck was about 30 to 1.  Since the year 2000, that ratiohas exploded to between 300 to 500 to one.

#11) One study found that as of 2007, the bottom 80 percent of American households held about 7% of the liquid financial assets.

#12) The bottom 40 percent of income earners in the United States now collectively own less than 1 percent of the nation’s wealth.

#13) Average Wall Street bonuses for 2009 were up 17 percent when compared with 2008.

#14) In the United States, the average federal worker now earns about twice as much as the average worker in the private sector.

#15) An analysis of income tax data by the Congressional Budget Office found that the top 1% of U.S. households own nearly twice as much of America’s corporate wealth as they did just 15 years ago.

#16) In America today, the average time needed to find a job has risen to a record 35.2 weeks.

#17) More than 40% of Americans who actually are employed are now working in service jobs, which are often very low paying.

#18) For the first time in U.S. history, more than 40 million Americans are on food stamps, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that number will go up to 43 million Americans in 2011.

#19) This is what American workers now must compete against: in China a garment worker makes approximately 86 cents an hour and in Cambodia a garment worker makes approximately 22 cents an hour.

#20) Despite the financial crisis, the number of millionaires in the United States rose a whopping 16 percent to 7.8 million in 2009.

#21) According to one new study, approximately 21 percent of all children in the United States are living below the poverty line in 2010 – the highest rate in 20 years.

#22) According to Professor Emmanuel Saez of the University of California at Berkeley, the gap between what the top 10 percent of Americans earn per year and what the rest of us earn has been widening sharply for the last 30 years.  His measurements show that the top 10% percent of Americans now take in approximately 50% of the income.


via: seefarther

Related:

World’s richest country! We’re #1!!

HUNGER BY THE NUMBERS: USDA Releases 2010 Household Food Security Report

image

1 in 6 Americans struggled to put food on the table in 2010; USDA credits nutrition assistance programs for dropping number of households with”very low food insecurity…”

Read more…

Piss-Poor Americans – 50% of Us Earn LESS than $26.5K a year – TRICKLE UP POVERTY — (via)

(As posted below, many of the low wage earners are probably in Texas!)

The Coming Global Class War

THIS IS AN EXCELLENT PIECE FROM JOEL KOTKIN IN FORBES about the coming global class war. The reality is that even with education and hard work, younger generations can’t look forward to living better than their parents anymore. The middle-class is being squeezed out of existence as American manufacturing and formerly white-collar jobs move offshore, while labor unions — which in earlier decades set wage and workplace standards for everyone — have been considered the enemy of Capitalists and the GOP for at least three decades (and so have become the enemy of the rank-and-file Republican voter by default). There will be a breaking point.

The U.K. Riots And The Coming Global Class War | Forbes:

In the earlier decades of the 20th century working class youths could look forward to jobs in Britain’s vibrant industrial economy and, later, in the growing public sector largely financed by both the earnings of the City of London and credit. Today the industrial sector has shrunk beyond recognition. The global financial crisis has undermined credit and the government’s ability to pay for the welfare state.

[...] Diminished prospects — what many pundits praise as the “new normal” — now confront a vast proportion of the population. One indication: The expectation of earning more money next year has fallen to the lowest level in 25 years. Wages have been falling not only for non-college graduates but  for those with four-year degree as well.   Over 43% of non-college-educated whites complain they are downwardly mobile.

Given this, it’s hard to see how class resentment in this country can do anything but grow in the years. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke claimed as early as 2007 that he was worried about growing inequality in this country, but his Wall Street and corporate-friendly policies have failed to improve the grassroots economy.

[...] Many conservatives here, as well as abroad, reject the huge role of class.  To them, wealth and poverty still reflect levels of virtue — and societal barriers to upward mobility, just a mild inhibitor. But modern society cannot run according to the individualist credo of Ayn Rand; economic systems, to be credible and socially sustainable, must deliver results to the vast majority of citizens. If capitalism cannot do that expect more outbreaks of violence and greater levels of political alienation — not only in Britain but across most of the world’s leading countries, including the U.S.

(via shorterexcerpts)

Something needs to change with all this economic inequality. For those of us who aren’t millionaires, I guess all we can do is hope that the FEMA-built Thunderdomes won’t be so bad. Which is silly, I know, since by the time the Thunderdomes need to be built, FEMA will have been defunded by “small-government” Republicans to free up enough revenue for further tax cuts and subsidies for the wealthiest one-percent.

Related:

Income Inequality, mid-2000s: out of 17 countries, USA rates #17

WHEN I SEE STUDIES COMPARING THE POSITIVE / NEGATIVE ASPECTS OF VARIOUS COUNTRIES, it’s seems like lately Denmark and Sweden are always full of win.

From The Conference Board of Canada:

Putting income inequality in context

Income inequality is the extent to which income is distributed unevenly in a country. It is an important indicator of equity in an economy, and has implications for other social outcomes such as crime and social exclusion.Although the 17 peer countries are among the wealthiest in the world, the income per capita figure does not tell us how this income is distributed. Income inequality within countries is often masked by the national average.In the last few years, income inequality has been in the media spotlight. There is widespread concern around the globe that the “rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer.” For example, a recent study by Berkeley professor Emmanuel Saez found that “income inequality in the United States is at an all-time high, surpassing even levels seen during the Great Depression.”1 He reports that the top 10 per cent of income earners in 2007 accounted for 49.7 per cent of total U.S. income—“a level higher than any other year since 1917 and even surpasses 1928, the peak of stock market bubble in the ‘roaring’ 1920s.”2

What does the Gini coefficient mean?

The Gini coefficient (named after the Italian statistician Corrado Gini) is the most commonly used measure of income inequality. It calculates the extent to which the distribution of income among individuals within a country deviates from a perfectly equal distribution. A Gini coefficient of 0 represents perfect equality (that is, every person in the society has the same amount of income); a Gini coefficient of 100 represents perfect inequality (that is, one person has all the income and the rest of the society has none).

How does Canada compare to its peers?

Income inequality is higher in Canada than in 11 of the peer countries. Although Canada’s wealth is distributed more equally than in the U.S., Canada’s 12th place ranking suggests it is doing a mediocre job of ensuring income equality. Canada gets a “C” grade on this indicator.

Denmark and Sweden, which have the lowest levels of poverty among children and their working-age populations, are also the clear leaders on the income inequality indicator. The relationship between social spending and poverty rates has become more obvious over time, so it is no surprise that these leading countries boast strong traditions of wealth distribution. Their success in maintaining low poverty rates is attributable to a universal welfare policy that has been effectively combined with job creation strategies that support gender equality and accessibility.

[...] Denmark, Finland, and Sweden have consistently been the leaders on this indicator, scoring “A” grades for each decade. The U.S. and Italy have been consistent “D” performers.

(via: other-stuff)

Video: President’s remarks on credit downgrade, honors the troops killed over the weekend

Jed Lewison | Daily Kos:

Obama said that securing a long-term deficit reduction plan would provide “more room” to agree to a set of job creation measures, including extending the payroll tax cut, extending unemployment insurance, and creating an infrastructure bank. He called for Congress to pass those measures immediately, though Republicans have thus far refused.

Obama said he would unveil his proposals for how the “Gang of 12″ supercommittee should further reduce deficits in the coming weeks. He argued that discretionary spending had been reduced as far as it could go and that future deficit reduction efforts should focus on tax reform and “modest adjustments” to Medicare.

President Obama also honored the troops who were killed over the weekend in Afghanistan.

Video:

What would income inequality look like today if union density had remained at 1973 levels?

From Kevin Drum | Mother Jones:

[What would] income inequality look like if union density had remained at its 1973 level.

…Among men, if you account only for the effect of individual membership in unions, it would be about a fifth lower, which agrees pretty well with previous estimates. But if you also account for the effect of unions on surrounding nonunion employers (who often raised wages to compete with union employers and to avert the threat of unionization in their own workplace), the effect is larger: Unionization at 1973 levels would decrease income inequality by a full third. You can see this in the chart below. For intragroup differences (which account for nearly the entire effect of unionization) the top line shows the actual rise of income inequality since 1973, while the red line is a prediction of what it would look like if union density were still at 1973 levels:

The effect of unionization on women is less dramatic because women were never unionized at the same rate as men. For them, increasing returns to education are a bigger factor in rising income inequality than deunionization. For men, however, deunionization has had a huge impact: “The decline of the US labor movement has added as much to men’s wage inequality as has the relative increase in pay for college graduates,” the authors say.

The teaparty Republican voter base, the majority of whom are at or near retirement age and who already receive their monthly government paycheck and benefits, are well past the heady days of unionization and the helpful effects it had on all other jobs across the national spectrum (i.e. equalizing pay and benefits). No more middle-class or middle-class jobs? Not the teabaggers’ problem. Anymore.

Related: