Monday, September 14, 2009

Bend over, America - the Robber Barons aren't done screwing you.

With the new year fast approaching, all of us hope for some signs that the economy is going to get better soon. However, foreclosures continue to skyrocket and somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 million people are unemployed or forced into inadequate part-time jobs which don't cover their living expenses. You might recall we have been using a round figure of US$55,000 for median income in many posts. That figure, pathetic as it is, is now outdated. In fact, things are now even worse for the average household.

However, there is one group whose income ROSE - but that group does not include you or me or anyone else who actually needs it.

Wall Street Journal Online
September 11, 2009
Recession Takes Toll on Living Standards

...Median household income, adjusted for inflation, fell 3.6% last year to $50,303, the steepest year-over-year drop in forty years. The poverty rate, at 13.2%, was the highest since 1997. About 700,000 more people didn't have health insurance in 2008 than the year before...

..."There's a lot of pain for the average family," said Bruce Meyer, an economist at the University of Chicago. "It's pretty striking how fast and how far the incomes of the typical family have fallen. The decline is bigger than anything we've seen in the past, and things are almost certainly going to get worse."

...The 2008 median income, adjusted for inflation, was the lowest level since 1997, meaning many middle-class Americans have been seen their living standards dialed back a decade, undoing advances made during boom years.

That's in absolute numbers, of course. Adjusted for inflation, the median income is stuck back in the 1970s still.

...One surprising result was that income inequality, which had been expected by economists to fall as the recession knocked the highest earners closer to the pack, was essentially unchanged in 2008 by various Census Bureau measures. The best-off 5% of households got 21.5% of income in 2008, up from 21.2% in 2007. Half of all income went to the top fifth of American households....

Those would be the guys running the corporations that outsourced all the living wage jobs to "reduce expenses" but kept their own outrageously inequitable salaries, benefits, and stock options nice and high.

Here's a new year's resolution: stop giving money to obscenely wealthy people who don't need it and instead support small, local businesses, artists, craftspersons, and farmers. If you continue to reward these fat cats with your hard-earned dollars, they have no incentive to change their ways and start treating their employees like human beings instead of interchangeable parts.

That or start reading terrorist manuals - pick one. One way or the other something has to change, unless you're feeling an urge to be reduced to serfdom, that is. In that case, do nothing. You'll reach your goal shortly.

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