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Posts Tagged ‘income inequality’

A new report from the United Nations shows that Norway has overtaken Denmark as the world’s happiest nation. The study was performed by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), which was launched by the United Nations in 2012.

“Happy countries are the ones that have a healthy balance of prosperity, as conventionally measured, and social capital, meaning a high degree of trust in a society, low inequality and confidence in government,” Jeffrey Sachs, the director of the SDSN and a special advisor to the United Nations Secretary-General, said in an interview.

The United States dropped to 14th this year from 13th last year. Sachs said the United States is falling in the ranking due to inequality, distrust and corruption. Economic measures that the administration of President Donald Trump is trying to pursue, he added, will make things worse.

US Senator Bernie Sanders had a lot to say about these issues.

“Norway,” he wrote, “is now the happiest country on earth followed by Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Finland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Sweden, according to the United Nations. Meanwhile, the United States has moved down to 14th on the list. Why are the people in Norway so much happier than the U.S.? It’s not that complicated.

While hundreds of thousands of bright, young Americans don’t go to college because they cannot afford the cost, public college is tuition-free in Norway.

While the U.S. is the only major country on earth that does not guarantee health care as a right, Norway has a single-payer health care system that provides high-quality health care to all of its citizens at a far lower cost.

While the U.S. is the only major country that does not guarantee workers some type of paid sick leave, Norway guarantees 50 paid sick days.

The U.S. has the highest childhood poverty rate of nearly any major country on earth, while Norway has one of the lowest followed by Denmark and Finland.

As we strive to be a more just society, we must follow the examples of our brothers and sisters in other countries who have made better progress. What do you think?”

Click here for more on the story from Reuters.

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In 2012, news that wasn’t published hardly at all included the fact that Costco’s CEO Craig Jelinek decided that redistributing income from his employees to his shareholders by cutting wages was not good for the employees or for the shareholders. Wall Street was pressuring him to do exactly that (Click here for the story from http://www.zdnet.com). This was in spite of the fact that Costco’s closing share price hovered slightly below $39 a share in March 2009 and had risen to over $90 a share in March 2012.

That higher wage strategy seems to have worked beautifully. Costco’s share price has been steadily rising, and it closed at $177 on March 2 2017. Wall Street was proven wrong–again.

The truth is simple. When you have a massive income redistribution from the 99 to the 1 percent via federal legislation, as in the last thirty-seven years, you have a government and an economy that are sick with massive corruption. Costco has opted out of that business model. Thirty-six years ago, the 1 percent took home about 8 percent of the nation’s income, now it’s over 30 percent and growing, and it’s been stolen from the rest of us. Thirty-six years ago, the 1 percent owned 7 percent of the nation’s wealth, now they own over 40 percent, and it’s growing at the expense of us all. However, when the latest stock market bubble bursts, and it will, much of that wealth will evaporate.

 

This is why the current economic expansion is long, but historically weak by virtually all measurements, despite a bigger gross domestic product, greater worker productivity and larger population than in years past. Demand should be robust compared to decades ago, but it instead remains comparatively lackluster. That is because the income of the 99 percent has been redistributed to the 1 percent, leaving the rest of us insufficient money to boost this economy in the manner of the past.

It’s time to put a little more balance in the economy by following the Costco model. The government has redistributed income from the 99 to the 1 percent via free trade treaties, privatization scams, corporate welfare and other means. It’s time for the government to move in the opposite direction on behalf of all of us, not just the rich.

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The Republican Party is about to determine whether or not it will become the biggest death panel since Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party tried to exterminate the Jews of Europe.

US House of Representatives leader Paul Ryan pulled out his new American Health Care Act last week, which he is hoping will be used to replace the Affordable Care Act. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) yesterday, within a decade as many as 24 million US citizens will lose their health care coverage and premiums will go up for the rest of us if Ryan’s plan is passed, and especially for low income people and the elderly. Many grandmas and grandpas will have to chose between starving to death, or not paying their overpriced healthcare premiums, thanks to the Ryan plan.

Obamacare has only added slightly more than 19 million people to the rolls of the health insured. That means another 4 million US citizens beyond Obamacare may lose their coverage with Ryan’s carefully thought out health care bill. And it has been carefully thought out.

March 8, 2017

The primary purpose of this bill by all appearances is to provide tax cuts to the rich, the only people who have been the beneficiary of thirty-six years of economic expansions, and deliberately so. Currently, there is a 0.9 percent tax on income over $200,000 a year to help fund Obamacare. There is also a 3.5 percent tax on capital gains for the same purpose, such as the profits from the sale of stocks and bonds. This is why Wall Street hedge funds and big investment firms want Obamacare gone.

Many Republicans are prepared to make the Republican Party and all it stands for into a giant death panel in order to make its billionaire masters richer. Herr Ryan is one of these. Yet, other Republicans want to get reelected.

Florida Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, for example, said Tuesday that she wouldn’t be able to support Ryan’s health care legislation after the CBO score revealed the high number of people who would lose insurance.

“I plan to vote NO on the current #AHCA bill. As written the plan leaves too many from my #SoFla district uninsured,” the Florida congresswoman wrote in two consecutive tweets. “As #AHCA stands, it will cut much needed help for #SoFla’s poor + elderly populations. Need a plan that will do more to protect them.”

This shows several things. The legislation is not likely going to pass. The Republicans are going to find it difficult to give their billionaire masters tax cuts by replacing Obamacare. So they will likely try a different tack.

The most likely scenario is simply keeping Obamacare largely intact, but shifting the tax burden from the rich to the middle and lower classes, and then marketing this plan as replacing Obamacare. One thing is certain; replacing Obamacare and taking health insurance from tens of millions of people in the process is not going to be politically palatable.

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The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) reports that US wages grew in real terms (wage growth minus inflation) during 2016. While good news for the people who actually do the work of producing the goods and services necessary to keep the economy humming, this is also bad news.

EPI reports that income inequality continues to rise. “Rising inequality,” the report states, “means that although we are finally seeing broad-based wage growth, ordinary workers are just making up lost ground, rather than getting ahead. The way rising inequality has directly affected most Americans is through sluggish hourly wage growth in recent decades, despite an expanding and increasingly productive economy. For example, had all workers’ wages risen in line with productivity, as they did in the three decades following World War II, an American earning around $40,000 today would instead be making close to $61,000 (EPI 2017c).” That income difference has been redistributed to the very rich since 1981.

The report went on, “A hugely disproportionate share of economic gains from rising productivity is going to the top 1 percent and to corporate profits, instead of to ordinary workers—who are more productive and more educated than ever. This rising inequality is happening largely because big corporations and the wealthy have been rewriting the rules of the economy, particularly the job market, to stack the deck in their favor. This has prevented the benefits of productivity growth from “trickling down” to reach most households.” In other words, trickle down economics was a complete farce.

Now for the bad news. The economy is heading on a crash course with the worst and most prolonged recession since the Great Depression sometime around June of this year, give or take a month or two. The severity of this recession is due to the income and wealth inequality the US and the world has experienced since 1981, the year it pretty much began. I have been watching this current business expansion unravel since before November 2015. See The Coming Recession is Going to Be a Big One-JohnHively.wordpress.com There are always certain variables that precede a recession. Many of those began a year and a half ago.

Typically, the last variables to happen before an economy tanks is that wages rise and the Federal Reserve raises interest rates. Now those variables have officially happened. The Fed will likely raise interest rates again this month.

Somebody might point out that the economy is humming along with wage growth, low unemployment, etc…. How can we go into recession?

The growth of any business expansion has much in common with hiking up a mountain. Once you step on the highest point of any mountain, the next step is down. And so it is with any economic expansion; once it hits a peak, the very next step is down into recession. This month, March 2017, is the 93rd month of this economic expansion, making it the third longest in history. Compared to every economic expansion lasting six or more years, the current is the weakest by almost every measurement. So don’t expect it to go on much longer.

Click here for the entire EPI report on wage growth in 2016.

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The rich are about to win politically again through their corruption of the federal government.

President Trump has wasted no time in taking aim at the Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise known as Obamacare. Joint research from the Urban Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation show up to 30 million Americans may lose their healthcare coverage if the ACA is repealed. For high-income investors, however, the end of Obamacare could bring a financial windfall.

Rebecca Lake of Investopedia.com points out that individuals earning over $200,000 and couples filing jointly and earning over $250,000 a year pay an additional 0.9 percent Medicare tax helping to fund the ACA. In addition, another “provision is the 3.8% net investment income tax. This tax applies to capital gains on investments and it follows the same income thresholds as the additional Medicare tax.” Capital gains is money earned through the sale of assets, such as stocks and bonds.

Repealing Obamacare would put significant amounts of money back into the pockets of the rich, who would then use their newly created windfall to pump more money into the current stock market bubble, blowing it up even more and blowing away the economy much more severely when it explodes, as well as use the funds to corrupt government even more in their favor. The rich already own the entire Republican Party, and most of the Democratic Party.

“An analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has found that millionaires would stand to get an 80% tax cut if the additional Medicare tax and the tax on net investment income were to disappear. The average tax break for those earning more than $1 million annually would total just over $49,000.” The 400 biggest income earners would receive a tax cut of over $7 million each. That would be a tax cut every year for infinity for the folks who have corrupted both major political parties and rigged the economic and political game in their favor.

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No doubt, any replacement for the ACA will be written to shift the tax burden from those who have political and economic power to those who do not. In other words, the Republicans and President Trump are redistributing income and wealth from the 99 to the 1 percent via repeal of the ACA. The Republicans are likely setting up some form of death panels by simply repealing the ACA and replacing it with something that will be underfunded.

Read more: Why a Repeal of Obamacare Could Be a Boon for Wealthy Investors | Investopedia http://www.investopedia.com/insurance/why-repeal-obamacare-could-be-boon-wealthy-investors/#ixzz4aqwCkpYw
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Rexnord Corporation is closing its ball bearings plant in Indiana, laying off its 350 workers, and exporting those jobs to Mexico. In addition, as part of its US workers severance package, many of those workers are training their Mexican replacements, who will $3 an hour with no benefits. John Feltner is a machinist earning $25 an hour in the Indianapolis, Indiana plant. He resents having to train his replacement, but he’ll lose his severance package of $5,000 if he refuses.

Most of the difference in pay between US and Mexican workers will go straight into the pockets of wealthy shareholders. Rexnord’s share price peaked at $30.82 in April 2014. It’s been dropping ever since. It hit a low of $14.72 on January 15 2016, rose a tad, and has stayed stagnant since, hovering around $22. No doubt CEO Todd Adams is hoping that exporting jobs to Mexico will increase its bottom line and attract investors to bid up the share price and his compensation. His CEO pay is tied to the share price thanks to legislation signed by then President Bill Clinton.

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Exporting jobs and CEO pay tied to corporate share price are two of the biggest factors in the widening gulf between the 1 percent and everybody else because they redistribute income and wealth from one group to the other. Currently, six individuals own more wealth than the bottom 50 percent of humanity, while the 1000 richest individuals own more wealth than the bottom 70 percent. Currently, in the USA, the 1 percent steal 35 percent of all income every year, compared to 8 percent in 1980, thanks to their ownership of such politicians as the Clinton’s, Wyden, Mitch McConnell and Orrin Hatch.

John Feltner and his 350 fellow workers lost their jobs thanks to Bill Clinton, who signed legislation deregulating Wall Street, as well putting his signature on the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA. NAFTA was negotiated by Clinton’s representatives with an eye to getting US corporations to export US jobs to Mexico in order to boost their bottom lines. After he left the presidency, Wall Street rewarded the Clinton’s for their service to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. The Clinton’s are still faithful servants of Wall Street in their war against the middle class, such as the workers at the Rexnord plant.

We also can’t forget Democratic Wall Street Senator Ron Wyden has continuously supported redistributing the income of the middle class to billionaires. The Democratic Party is corrupted to the core by big money, though maybe a bit less than the Republican Party. But then again, maybe not.

“The big picture is that American jobs are leaving this country to exploit cheap labor,” Feltner said. “When you start taking away the middle class, what do you have left?”

This is the sentiment that President Donald Trump played to so effectively during the 2016 presidential campaign. It spoke to John Feltner somewhere down deep.”

“He’d been a loyal union man for years, been raised on the notion Democrats were the party of the working man and made calls for Democrats from union phone banks. But after the trade agreements that Bill Clinton and Barack Obama signed, and after Trump spoke to the plight of workers at places such as Carrier, John Feltner broke ranks.

With the layoff fresh on his mind, he cast his November vote for Trump. He says most of his rank-and-file union members did the same.”

And what were those workers supposed to do? Support Hillary Clinton who aspired to export millions of US jobs to China via the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which was being negotiated on behalf of Wall Street by then President Barack Obama?

Feltner and his fellow employees don’t know what they’re going to do once their jobs are gone. Thank you Bill Clinton. Thank you Barack Obama.

For more on this story, click the following link, Rexnord’s Indiana Plant Exported to Mexico–USA Today

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The economic and political game is clearly rigged in favor of wealthy, and its getting worse. This is a recipe for economic disaster, and which has been closely followed by major Wall Street politicians, such as Ron Wyden, Barack Obama, Mitch McConnell, Orrin Hatch, and George W. Bush.

The richest are getting richer, and their doing so quickly, and at the expense of the rest of us. For the most part, control of the levers of political power is how they have gained their money. It’s that simple. The rich control the Republican and Democratic parties, and with them, they control all three branches of the federal government, as well as most state and local governments. And that’s just in the USA.

In early 2016 Oxfam reported that just 62 individuals had the same wealth as the bottom half of humanity. About a year later Oxfam reported that just eight men had the same wealth as the world’s bottom half. Based on the same methodology and data sources used by Oxfam, that number is now down to six.

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There is a reason why the rich, and in particular the super rich, continue to get richer. The politicians of both major political parties work as agents on behalf of their billionaire benefactors, whether its Republicans such as Mitch McConnell, or Democrats like Ron Wyden.

This is why the poorest half (and more) of the world has continued to lose wealth; and the very richest individuals—especially the top thousand or so—continue to add billions of dollars to their massive fortunes. Inequality deniers and apologists say the Oxfam methodology is flawed, but they’re missing the big picture. Whether it’s six individuals or 62 or 1,000 doesn’t really matter. The data from the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook (GWD) and the Forbes Billionaire List provide the best available tools to make it clear that inequality is extreme and pathological and getting worse every year.

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As of Feb. 17 of 2017, the world’s six richest individuals (all men) had $412 billion. Just a year ago, on March 1, 2016, the world’s six richest men had $343 billion. They’re the same men today, although slightly rearranged as they play “king of the hill”: Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos, Amancio Ortega, Mark Zuckerberg, Carlos Slim Helu (with Larry Ellison jockeying for position). The wealth of these six men increased by $69 billion in just one year.

According to a new report, which can be accessed below, the poorest 50 percent of the population has seen their share of wealth decline. And the richest 500 people own more wealth that the bottom 70 percent.

Six Men Own More Wealth Than the Bottom 50 Percent of the World’s Population–EcoWatch.org

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