The Least, First

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Archive for October 26th, 2008

US like developing nations in income inequality

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The USA is becoming more akin to Sri Lanka, Mali, and Russia in income inequality than it is like Sweden, Switzerland, or the UK. We’re starting to resemble a developing nation with huge gaps between the very rich and the rest of us, while the middle class loses ground.

Is it really wise to offer more breaks for the rich? Where’s the trickle-down from the last eight years?

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The Gini index (or coefficient) is a measure of income inequality, with 0 meaning everyone has the same income and 1 meaning one person has all income and everyone else has none. As Elizabeth Gudrais noted recently in Harvard Magazine’s Unequal America:

For the United States, the Gini coefficient has risen from .35 in 1965 to .44 today. On the per-capita GDP scale, our neighbors are Sweden, Switzerland, and the U.K.; on the Gini scale, our neighbors include Sri Lanka, Mali, and Russia.

Those some are becoming more numerous as a result of declining earnings. Real weekly wages (real: meaning adjusted for inflation) in the United States rose during every decade from 1830 to 1970. But since 1973, it’s been mostly a downhill slide, with the exception of the late ‘90s.

1964: $686

1974: $714

1984: $632

1994: $589

2004: $630

2008: $612

The wealthiest 1% of Americans earned 21.2% of all income in 2005
The bottom 50% earned 12.8% of all income, down from 13.4% in 2004
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Written by Monte

October 26, 2008 at 9:15 pm

Posted in Politics

Des Moines Register rebukes McCain, endorses Obama

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“Though widely regarded as a man of honor, he has overseen a campaign premised on purposeful distortions about Obama and his record.”

Amen to that.

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McCain, like Obama, brought an appealing personal history to the campaign. He’s a genuine American hero
The Register’s editorial board endorsed McCain for the Republican nomination and looked forward to a serious-minded contest between competing ideologies and worthy foes
But it’s as if McCain has lost his way, forfeiting principle for gain of a few points in the polls
Though widely regarded as a man of honor, he has overseen a campaign premised on purposeful distortions about Obama and his record
Worst of all, in grasping for political edge in his choice of a running mate, he burdened his ticket and potentially the country with an individual utterly unqualified to ascend to the presidency
Before choosing Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, McCain emphasized the importance of experience
Then he picked a running mate who clearly isn’t ready.
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Written by Monte

October 26, 2008 at 9:10 pm

Posted in Politics

The absurdity of yelling “Socialist!”

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In 1964 the top marginal rate was 91%. Obama proposes 39.6% (it’s 35% now), which is what we had in the deficit-free Clinton years. It’s less than half what it was under LBJ. If that wasn’t socialism, half of it certainly isn’t!
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AMY GOODMAN: Well, is Barack Obama a socialist?

RICK MacARTHUR: Barack Obama is a socialist like Harper’s Magazine is a media conglomerate. It’s the most preposterous charge I’ve heard in a pretty crazy campaign
But it’s even more absurd when you realize that
they’re all socialists now
remember, the top rate in 1964, the last time we had this kind of crazy debate between the Goldwater Republicans and Lyndon Johnson, the top marginal rate was 91 percent. Barack Obama is only proposing to raise or restore the top marginal rate from the current 35 percent to 39.6 percent, which is what it was under the Clinton administration. This is a very modest, very, you might even say, timid response to what’s, in the last fifteen years, been a redistribution of wealth from the bottom up to the top.
What is the mortgage crisis, except Wall Street picking on people
who are not very well educated about the finance market, and
robbing them
That’s redistribution of wealth, upwards.
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Written by Monte

October 26, 2008 at 9:09 pm

Posted in Politics