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Gap Between Rich and Poor Rooted in Government Policy

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Anyone who proclaims the American economy is recovering from the financial crisis of 2008 is either lying or not paying attention. The good people at the Economic Collapse Blog have aggregated 37 statistics that strongly indicate the economy continues to worsen under the financial leadership of President Obama and Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke. In particular, the figures indicate that it is the lower economic classes which have been most severely devastated by four years of reckless federal spending, bailouts for the well-connected, and artificially low interest rates.

For instance, since 2008, 15 million more Americans rely on food stamps. According to the Census Bureau, 146 million of us, nearly half of the U.S. population, are poor or low-income. The Civilian Employment/Population ratio, which is the broadest measure of employment in the country, is at its lowest level since the early 1980s. Median household income has retreated to its 1995 level. Lastly, the economy is not producing jobs for US college graduates; 53 percent of them under the age of 25 are either unemployed or underemployed. Given that many graduated with huge college debt, what could the future hold for these folks?

But, don’t despair. Some in our society are doing quite well because of the federal largess thrown their way. Most of them just happen to be located around New York City and the District of Columbia. You see, the U.S. stock and bond markets are at, or near, all-time highs. Real estate in Manhattan and Washington, D.C. has bounced back nicely and both are at all-time highs. Even the Contemporary Art market in the Big Apple has seen sales skyrocket in spite of higher prices.

But, this is predictable, given that New York and the nation’s capital are where the Wall Street/Washington Axis of Financial Evil is headquartered. It is where that axis prints the new money and injects it into the economy through its well-connected surrogates: the “too big to fails”.

And it is all done in the name of stabilizing prices so the rest of us don’t suffer so much. How nice it is that the powers that be are looking out for us working folk!

Don’t be fooled, not even for a moment.

The financial establishment in this country, which includes the Federal Reserve and its “too big to fail” cronies, knew exactly what it was doing. Through monetizing federal debt, a series of quantitative easing schemes and holding interest rates below market prices, the banking establishment has succeeded in stabilizing the cost of living above market levels. Put another way, if left to its own devices, with no monetary easing from the Fed, the market would have rid itself of all the malinvestment built up from the previous Fed-induced false boom period (housing boom).

Consequently, housing prices would be lower, commodity prices would be lower; in fact general price inflation would be lower. The cost of hiring new workers would be lower, causing an employment recovery. Savers would have gotten a decent return on their money. In short, working class Americans would have seen an enhancement in their standard of living.

On the flip side, many rich folks would have been devastated. Their stock and bond portfolios would have been decimated. Many would have lost their jobs through bankruptcy and restructuring. The value of their homes wouldn’t have been restored on the backs of working men and women.

This is what should have happened. After all, they caused the crisis along with their accomplices in government. Didn’t they deserve the consequences of their actions? That is capitalism. That is the American way.

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About Kenn Jacobine

  • http://joannehuspek.wordpress.com/ Joanne Huspek

    You’re singing to the choir, Kenn. I’ve been saying the same thing for years. Recovery? Are you kidding me? Not in Detroit. Come on by and I’ll show you the wonderful ‘recovery’ – the one that doesn’t exist here. Kind of like Manti Te’o’s imaginary girlfriend. They think if they keep telling us things are better, we’ll believe it. However, from where I sit, things are NOT better and probably won’t be in my lifetime.

  • Kenn Jacobine

    A real recovery puts Americans to work.

  • Igor

    The gap is rooted in the Reagan policy of ‘privatization’ which is glued into official policy and has channeled the assets and profits to the very rich while saddling the poor with the risks and losses.

    “Gap Between Rich and Poor Rooted in Government Policy”

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Kenn –

    Come now – you know very well we’ve never left the era of Reaganomics. We’re still in the era of low taxes for all, keeping the government small enough to drown in a bathtub, and perpetual protection of corporations. The breakup of too-big-to-fail institutions (like we did with AT&T) is now politically impossible, especially given Citizens United.

    Yes, Kenn, welcome to capitalism unbound, a perverse cross of oligarchy and Mussolini-style fascism. And again, thanks to Citizens United – which now applies to state and local elections as well as federal – we will never be able to return to the days when government was strong enough to do what was necessary to maintain a level playing field in the American marketplace.

    And you know what? In a very real way, I hope we don’t see the days of the New Deal again. Know why? Because the only way we’ll be able to do so will require an upheaval at least as terrible as the Great Depression, something that will threaten the very fabric of this nation – and tear many millions of lives apart. The cure to our condition would likely be worse than the condition itself.

    Our new ‘tradition’ of Reaganomics, with its insistence that taxes must be ever lower, government must be ever weaker, and who gives a damn about the poor, all capped by Citizens United is here to stay. It’s a political knot of Gordian complexity…and we all know what it took to slice through that particularly knot of legend.

    But then, this is all given the electorate up till the most recent election. America’s electorate is changing and radically so, and it’s sending very real chills down the spines of conservatives. Twenty or thirty years from now, we might be able to right the economic ship of state…but until then, corporatism will rule.

  • Doug Hunter

    Oh great Glenn, we can be ruled by an electorate from south of the border (they’ve done such a fantastic job with their own countries). Maybe we can get Chavez Jr. in here to shake things up. Small enough to drown in a bathtub? You’ve got to be kidding, the government has grown like a cancer and is bigger and more powerful than it’s ever been. Look at DC, the military, the prisons, it’s size in relation to GDP and it’s presence and control of our lives… all through the roof as our leadership position in the world and standard of living has been eroded. Them be the facts, but those never got in the way of an authoritarian… More government, more taxes, more control is always better!!!

  • Igor

    A more likely improper rule by minority is being proposed across the USA in Statehouses controlled by the republicans (which in turn were facilitated by republican gerrymandering), to slant future presidential elections in favor of republicans.

    Here is what has just been proposed in Pennsylvania:

    PRINTER’S NO. 83

    THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA

    HOUSE BILL
    No. 94
    Session of 2013

    INTRODUCED BY GODSHALL, GROVE, KAUFFMAN, C. HARRIS, BARRAR, EMRICK AND MOUL, JANUARY 14, 2013

    REFERRED TO COMMITEE ON STATE GOVERNMENT, JANUARY 14, 2013

    AN ACT

    1Amending the act of June 3, 1937 (P.L.1333, No.320), entitled
    2″An act concerning elections, including general, municipal,
    3special and primary elections, the nomination of candidates,
    4primary and election expenses and election contests; creating
    5and defining membership of county boards of elections;
    6imposing duties upon the Secretary of the Commonwealth,
    7courts, county boards of elections, county commissioners;
    8imposing penalties for violation of the act, and codifying,
    9revising and consolidating the laws relating thereto; and
    10repealing certain acts and parts of acts relating to
    11elections,” in electoral college, further providing for
    12election of presidential electors.
    13The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
    14hereby enacts as follows:
    15Section 1. Section 1501 of the act of June 3, 1937
    16(P.L.1333, No.320), known as the Pennsylvania Election Code, is
    17amended to read:
    18Section 1501. Election of Presidential Electors.–(a) At
    19the general election to be held in the year 1940, and every
    20fourth year thereafter, there shall be elected by the qualified
    21electors of the Commonwealth, persons to be known as electors of
    22President and Vice-President of the United States, and referred
    23to in this act as presidential electors, equal in number to the
    20130HB0094PN0083 -1-

    1whole number of senators and representatives to which this State
    2may be entitled in the Congress of the United States.
    3(b) (1) Two of the presidential electors shall be elected
    4at large to represent the entire Commonwealth and shall cast
    5their ballots for the presidential and vice-presidential
    6candidates with the greatest number of votes Statewide.
    7(2) Each of the remaining presidential electors shall be
    8elected in the presidential elector’s congressional district and
    9shall cast a ballot for the presidential and vice-presidential
    10candidates with the greatest number of votes in the
    11congressional district.
    12Section 2. This act shall take effect in 60 days.
    20130HB0094PN0083 -2-

    Here’s where I got the citation:

    can you please sound the alarm about the GOP’s sneaky plan to rig every future presidential election that is taking place right now? This bill was just introduced in the Pennsylvania legislature. Long story short, the state would end up splitting its electoral votes based on the gerrymandering, so even though Obama won the state by a lot, he’d only get around 7 electoral votes while Romney would have gotten 13. And the plan, which is essentially the GOP gerrymandering plan where they bragged about keeping the House even though they lost the popular House vote by over a million votes, is supported by RNC chair Reince Priebus.

    Sullivan

  • Igor

    Here’s more on the trickery that republican politicians are using to usurp citizens votes to deny majority rule:

    Using Gerrymender trickery the republicans managed to reverse the effect of the popular vot.

    Republican REDMAP


    2012 REDMAP Summary Report
    Written by admin
    Friday, 4 January 2013 09:23
    REDMAP

    How a Strategy of Targeting State Legislative Races in 2010

    Led to a Republican U.S. House Majority in 2013

    On November 6, 2012, Barack Obama was reelected President of the United States by nearly a three-point margin, winning 332 electoral votes to Mitt Romney’s 206 while garnering nearly 3.5 million more votes. Democrats also celebrated victories in 69 percent of U.S. Senate elections, winning 23 of 33 contests. Farther down-ballot, aggregated numbers show voters pulled the lever for Republicans only 49 percent of the time in congressional races, suggesting that 2012 could have been a repeat of 2008, when voters gave control of the White House and both chambers of Congress to Democrats.

    But, as we see today, that was not the case. Instead, Republicans enjoy a 33-seat margin in the U.S. House seated yesterday in the 113th Congress, having endured Democratic successes atop the ticket and over one million more votes cast for Democratic House candidates than Republicans. The only analogous election in recent political history in which this aberration has taken place was immediately after reapportionment in 1972, when Democrats held a 50 seat majority in the U.S. House of Representatives while losing the presidency and the popular congressional vote by 2.6 million votes.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Doug –

    Okay, we’ll go point-by-point:

    Oh great Glenn, we can be ruled by an electorate from south of the border (they’ve done such a fantastic job with their own countries).

    Oh? You do realize, of course, that ALL those nations have what would be by first-world definition “small governments”. None of those governments are as large (proportionally speaking) as is the American government…and to most of the populations south of the border, a social safety net is just a distant dream.

    In other words, they sound more like the Republican paradise than anything we liberals would want.

    Maybe we can get Chavez Jr. in here to shake things up. Small enough to drown in a bathtub? You’ve got to be kidding, the government has grown like a cancer and is bigger and more powerful than it’s ever been.

    Never mind that under Obama, the government’s grown at a SLOWER pace than under any president since Eisenhower. Yep, that’s right, Doug – in conservative terms, Obama’s been the most fiscally-RESPONSIBLE president since Ike. But you never, ever hear that on Fox News, do you?

    Look at DC, the military, the prisons, it’s size in relation to GDP and it’s presence and control of our lives… all through the roof as our leadership position in the world and standard of living has been eroded.

    And who is it that’s refusing to even consider cuts to the military? Republicans. Who is it that’s most-loved by Correctional Corporation of America (who runs private prisons usually for a HIGHER price than government-run prisons and who pushes for ever-tougher laws (thereby keeping their prisons full))? Republicans. And who is it that says “Thou shalt not raise taxes on the wealthy” even though the Walton family literally has more money than the bottom 40% of ALL Americans? Yep – Republicans!

    Them be the facts, but those never got in the way of an authoritarian… More government, more taxes, more control is always better!!!

    And I’ll ask you the SAME question that I’ve asked scores of times, that NO conservative has even attempted to answer: Why is it that all First-World nations (other than oil-rich OPEC nations) are socialized democracies? Every single First-World nation is a socialized democracy, Doug. Every. Single. One.

    Why is that? If conservative dogma were right, then every single one of the First-World nations’ economies would have tanked long ago…but even now, even given the Great Recession, the First-World socialized democracies are still on top – and we’re on top by a LOOOOONG shot. Why is that, Doug? Why? Why? Why? WHY????

    And why is it that NONE – not a single friggin’ one – of the other nations that DO have small, weak governments have risen to First-World status? Why? But not a single one of them are even close. I mean, hey, Doug – according to conservative orthodoxy, small, weak governments are the way to national prosperity…but there’s precisely ZERO evidence of that ever happening! Why, Doug? Why? Why? Why? WHY????

    (P.S. – don’t even try to classify China as a first-world nation – they’re not even close)

    I really, really look forward to you trying to sensibly address this particular conundrum, because you can claim that the socialism that is part of a socialized democracy (like the U.S.) is a sure path to economic doom…but all the (non-OPEC) first-world nations are socialized democracies. You can claim that small, weak governments enable a strong business sector and lead to national prosperity, but there’s NO first-world nation that has a small, weak government.

    There’s a very good reason for the difference, Doug…but it’s a reason that no conservative will admit.

    But of course you can try to prove me wrong – your turn!

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Igor –

    It’s been shown that if REDMAP had been instituted before the 2012 election, Romney would have barely won the electoral college even though he lost the popular vote by 5 MILLION votes.

    If the Dems had won the electoral college but lost the popular vote by 5M votes, we’d be facing a popular armed revolt by the Republicans…but since it’s THEM that’s doing it, well, THAT makes it all okay, I guess….

  • Igor

    REDMAP is a huge danger to the American republic by undermining the legitimacy of our elections.

  • Doug Hunter

    #8

    To start naming countries: Hong Kong, Singapore, Switzerland… of course, in size and scale the US has few peers. The obvious one is the US itself who resisted government for a long time. We became the richest large country, the most powerful, leaders in technology, medicine, education, and much more… we were indeed exceptional. Now, we just want to be the EU lite… which is great, especially if there’s an exceptional country out there willing to pay for your military protection and actively researching and developing the future (which you can then copy and/or distribute to your citizens).

    Nothing wrong in itself with spending our national wealth on foodstamps, government housing, medical care, etc., but we have had a good run when we let the markets do their work, we created better medical treatments, better food supplies through the ‘green revolution’, more technology and gadgets, innovations in virtually every field… and this didn’t just benefit us, it benefitted the entire world. We were better creators, even if they were better distributors… their redistribution helped themselves, our creations helped the world.

    I think you’re right. I think American exceptionalism is over and agree that our future voting patterns will put our government in line with those of a decaying Europe. Progress will not stop, only slow. I believe the net effect on the world will be negative, but it’s endlessly debatable. I can no more tell you what those future losses would be than a person in 1965 could tell you why spending money on DARPA for useless computers (which would later become central to this very medium) was better than spending it on food stamps or unemployment.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Doug –

    Again, the situation of nations throughout the world show that socialized democracies are stronger in almost every way – particularly when it comes to economic matters – than are nations with ‘small government’. Keep watching, and as the years go by, you’ll notice that this will not change, that any (non-OPEC) nation that DOES join the first-world community is one that adopts the societal and governmental principles of the rest of the non-OPEC first-world.

    You said:

    Nothing wrong in itself with spending our national wealth on foodstamps, government housing, medical care, etc., but we have had a good run when we let the markets do their work, we created better medical treatments, better food supplies through the ‘green revolution’, more technology and gadgets, innovations in virtually every field… and this didn’t just benefit us, it benefitted the entire world. We were better creators, even if they were better distributors… their redistribution helped themselves, our creations helped the world.

    What, you really don’t think we made much in the way of new tech and gadgets and contributions before Reaganomics came along? When it comes to computers, I think Igor could give you a bit of an education.

    And then there’s little pre-Reaganomics technological advances you may recognize, like:

    – the entire space program all the way from John Glenn to the moon landing to the space shuttle and the first Mars landing;

    – nuclear power

    – the interstate highway system

    You can well imagine that there’s much, much more – but the only really major transformational technological advance since the advent of Reaganomics to compare with any of the above is the internet and computer power in general. The world’s premier scientific facility is NOT in America – it’s at CERN on the French/Swiss (IIRC) frontier, and it was financed, built, and is operated by oh-so-financially-irresponsible socialists.

    That’s what y’all don’t get – the social safety net isn’t so much of a burden on American business as it is an enabler for people to have a better opportunity than what they’d have otherwise to climb out of the depths of poverty.

    THAT, sir, is the Really Short Version of why every single (non-OPEC) first-world nation is a socialized democracy…because most of us understand that the social safety net isn’t an unnecessary burden – it’s an investment in the most important infrastructure of any nation: its people.

  • Doug Hunter

    What does this have to do with Reagan? I see little change in the trajectory of government during his administration, he may have lowered tax rates but he didn’t shrink the government.

    You’re right though, many of our contributions are in the past… you know back when government (and the safety net was much smaller). Back then, the government provided jobs, now they just send a check for your vote. The government has grown 50% as a percentage of the economy since 1965, that’s back when we were spending our money exploring the solar system, creating darpanet, microwaves, and laying the foundation for transformational technology… foodstamps were basically nonexistent and yet no one starved then.

    You’re right again on CERN. I’d rather have a handful of those type facilities scattered across the US putting our educated population to work some place other than McDonald’s, but then again we can’t afford it because we’ve got to pay everyone’s medical care and retirement and food stamps and unemployment. Both are investments, one has a history of paying much higher dividends.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Doug –

    Look at my comment #4 – that comment addressed Kenn’s article, and one of my main points was that we are still in the thrall of Reaganomics. You seemed to disagree with what I posted…and that’s why I keep mentioning Reaganomics, because we ARE still in the Reaganomics era of low taxes on individuals and corporations and to-hell-with-the-poor.

    Reagan didn’t shrink government, true – but he sure as heck shifted spending from the public sector to the military – it was then, you’ll recall, that funding for institutionalization for the insane got slashed, and we suddenly (and still do) have a lot more homeless sleeping in the cold. It was he who popularized the myth of the ‘welfare queen’ that so much the Right still believes today.

    One more thing – when Reagan slashed taxes, the income of the rich began to skyrocket…and the income of the middle class and poor have stayed largely stagnant (or, in the case of the poor, has fallen) since then – hence the ever-widening income gap we now see in America. Before Reagan, the income g