A new study by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) shows that income inequality grew again last year, continuing a thirty-five year trend of rising income and wealth inequality that has been the defining feature of the American economy.
According to the study, “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 $50,000 today would instead be making close to $75,000. 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 educated than ever.”
As I show in The Rigged Game: Corporate America and a People Betrayed, our rising inequality is mostly the result of big corporations and the wealthy rewriting the rules of the economy via federal legislation to stack the deck in their favor. They’ve bought everybody from Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, from Wall Street Senator Ron Wyden to Wall Street Senator’s Mitch McConnell and Orrin Hatch. The rich, in other words, are the monopolists who own the political markets on the federal and most state levels.
This government corruption has prevented the benefits of productivity growth from “trickling down” to reach most households.
A few years ago, President Obama called wage and income inequality the “greatest issue of our time.” Then some Wall Street hacks must have called him to their throne room and gave him a tongue lashing. So the president has never mentioned the “greatest issue or our time” ever again. And he’s done nothing about it either.
That’s why wage inequality continued to increase during 2015.
Among EPI’s findings:
* Wage growth occurred fastest in states with higher minimum wages.
* Overall, 2015 saw overall real wage gains driven only by a dip in inflation.
* Wage growth was faster for male workers and white workers, particularly at the top of the wage distribution, which continued to exacerbate racial, ethnic, and gender wage gaps.
* If the Federal Reserve makes decisions based on the data, it is clear that the United States is not in a period of inflation-spurring wage growth. (Editors note: So the Fed should not raise rates in June, although they likely will, but for other than inflation is on the horizon reasons)
* To see strong broad-based wage growth outside of the tightest of labor markets, policymakers could strengthen labor standards, such as by raising the minimum wage, expanding eligibility for overtime pay, and protecting and strengthening workers’ right to bargain collectively for higher wages and benefits.
Income inequality is destroying the US economy. It’s turning us into a third world nation, with a corrupt federal government, and corrupt corporate news media as bad as in any third world nation.
The less money the 99 percent has, the less demand there is for goods and services. This is why the last two economic expansions are the worst in recorded history for US job growth, as well as other economic indices. The more money the rich steal via government corruption, the more the stock markets roar. Currently, 1 percent of the population steal 37 percent of all income produced in the USA, up from 8 percent in 1980.
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