Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Under Bush, Economic Inequality Growing

George W. Bush and his Republican friends are the real elitists of the political world: there is nothing they won't do for their very wealthy contributors and their entourage.

Paul Krugman normally writes in The New York Times but he has an article in The Rolling Stone that is a clear, concise description of how Republicans over the years, and particularly under Bush, have turned their backs on America's middle class (Republicans, as a rule, have ignored poor Americans for generations):
... The reason most Americans think the economy is fair to poor is simple: For most Americans, it really is fair to poor. Wages have failed to keep up with rising prices. Even in 2005, a year in which the economy grew quite fast, the income of most non-elderly families lagged behind inflation. The number of Americans in poverty has risen even in the face of an official economic recovery, as has the number of Americans without health insurance. Most Americans are little, if any, better off than they were last year and definitely worse off than they were in 2000.

But how is this possible? The economic pie is getting bigger -- how can it be true that most Americans are getting smaller slices? The answer, of course, is that a few people are getting much, much bigger slices. Although wages have stagnated since Bush took office, corporate profits have doubled. The gap between the nation's CEOs and average workers is now ten times greater than it was a generation ago. And while Bush's tax cuts shaved only a few hundred dollars off the tax bills of most Americans, they saved the richest one percent more than $44,000 on average. In fact, once all of Bush's tax cuts take effect, it is estimated that those with incomes of more than $200,000 a year -- the richest five percent of the population -- will pocket almost half of the money. Those who make less than $75,000 a year -- eighty percent of America -- will receive barely a quarter of the cuts. In the Bush era, economic inequality is on the rise.

(snip)

America has never been an egalitarian society, but during the New Deal and the Second World War, government policies and organized labor combined to create a broad and solid middle class. The economic historians Claudia Goldin and Robert Margo call what happened between 1933 and 1945 the Great Compression: The rich got dramatically poorer while workers got considerably richer. Americans found themselves sharing broadly similar lifestyles in a way not seen since before the Civil War.

But in the 1970s, inequality began increasing again -- slowly at first, then more and more rapidly. ...
A democracy like America belongs to everyone. The United States and our government is not the property of the very wealthy. For almost thirty years,we have seen an economic con job that makes life harder and harder for average Americans despite a growing economy. As Republicans have drifted farther and farther to the right, the real strength of our country, a broad middle class, is growing more stressed. It's time to think more clearly about where our nation is going.

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