Charles Blow of the New York Times has noticed that great sucking sound of our decadent empire in decline, and says, “It’s time for us to stop lying to ourselves about this country,” because among industrialized countries “we are among the worst of the worst.”
Zoinks, Scoob! It used to be that Americans didn’t want to know the truth, and the media had the courtesy not to tell us.
As for the cause of this decline to this “worst of the worst” status, Blow references “an increasingly cut-throat global economy” and shows an IMF chart indicating that the US has one of the highest Gini indices (i.e., measures of inequality) amongst industrial nations, just behind Hong Kong and Singapore.
I give Blow credit for his candor, as far as it goes, but let’s go ahead an nail that thesis to the door of the Church: Everything is going to shit because capitalism is an inherently psychopathic and monomaniacal drive for profits, all else be damned, and the plutocrats are taking
increasingly large everything! for themselves.
State of Working America has some interactive graphs showing average incomes of the top 10% (in red hues) and bottom 90% (in blue) of wage earners between 1917 and 2008. Moving the vertical bars in their graphs allows the user to select and summarize intervals of interest. Data were compiled by economist Emmanuel Saez at UC Berkeley.
From 1917 to 1970 the bottom 90% of wage earners took home 72% of income growth, whereas the top 10% earners took home 28%. The top 1% (light pink) took the smallest proportion of growth, whereas the next two largest income earners (rose and maroon)took the largest shares of the 28% cut.
Over the past forty years or so, income inequality has ballooned. Specifically, from 1970 to 2008, the top 10% wage earners took home all the growth in incomes. The top 1% took the majority of that growth. The bottom 90% got nothing. For the past 40 years, the vast majority and poorest Americans have gotten nothing. Bupkis. Goose eggs. Zilch. All the money has gone to the very top, the worst of the worst, for forty fucking years.