Let’s Work to Reverse the Unconscionable Levels of Income & Wealth Inequality…Our Part 3’s with articles from the newsfeeds on the economy always concludes our week, with the token song at the end related to our commentaries. The 2020 election may not be so much GOP vs. Dems or conservatives vs. progressives, but the real battle lines may be drawn along the lines of oligarch crony capitalists vs. working class Americans. Many of America’s wealthiest donors are backing Trump to protect their massive wealth, while gearing up for a huge propaganda campaign with or without the Russians, designed to convince (actually bamboozle) the conservative base what’s good for these rich oligarchs is also good for them. With income & wealth inequality growing to ridiculous proportions, for many among the top 1% of 1% it’s more of a game where they look to run up the score, amassing as much wealth as possible in satisfying egos as big as their stock portfolios. Meanwhile, there have been lots of jobs created & lots of jobs available, mostly in the lower-paying service sector which typically barely pays poverty wages. Our Part 3’s always identify the economic concerns, since we firmly believe awareness is the first step in fixing any problem.
The problem comes in when there’s only a finite amount of wealth created to go around, the current system allows for the disproportionate share to be increasingly siphoned away from the common working folks, who constantly struggle to make ends meet in supporting their families. These hard-working Americans are being squeezed by the duo forces of having their wages suppressed by crony capitalist interests, along with the cost of living steadily rising through the systematic monopolistic practices of profit-obsessed corporations further enriching their execs & shareholders. The solutions shouldn’t come from a progressive wish-list of giving even more government handouts to any group in need, which tends to enable a dependency mentality which steadily erodes away at individual initiative & ambition. I’ll readily admit the real solutions are way above my mental capacity or pay grade. But we should diligently seek answers with the mutual cooperation from the brightest minds in various walks of life, determined to reconstruct our modern economic system where shared growth is successfully achieved so all have a legitimate shot at real opportunity & upward mobility.
Much as Trump & his loyal pundits/base would like us to believe this is such a great economy, the reality on the ground isn’t so rosy for at least half of America’s working class families. There was a time in America when high school graduates or those with less schooling could find a good job, having the expectations hard work could pay the bills & support a family. There was once a better time when it was affordable to start a business & small business people had a much higher chance to compete/succeed. There was a time owning a mom & pop store or family farm was relatively stable & profitable with the pride gained from working for yourself. There was a time college graduates could buy a car, a home, get married & have kids soon after getting their degree, not be buried in mountains of student debt that can delay by years the dream of a middle-class lifestyle. There was a time after a lifetime of work, seniors in their 60’s could retire comfortably & spend their golden years pursuing a personalized dream bucket list. There was a time employees were respected & valued as integral to the success of a company, not discarded on a whim when some bean counter determines profits would rise through layoffs, or investing in automation/robots/AI could replace human labor as more cost effective. There was a time drive, initiative & hard work would get noticed while rising the corporate ladder, but it’s quite a stretch to think a worker can really stand out working the checkout line at Walmart, the grill at McDonald’s, or pushing packages inside an Amazon fulfillment center.
This could actually be a good time to at least start the discussion on revamping the system to revive the long-struggling middle class, when so many corporate sectors of the economy are stable if not thriving. But Trump & his GOP have shown no inclination to want to fix things, preferring the status quo where their rich cronies/donors can pile on profits to their massive wealth holdings. Our prez is doing very little to actually help the working class, knowing he can talk a good game & convince his Trumpeters to believe positive things which are not. Trump doesn’t know the details of any issues, he just watches cable news to come up with talking points that can resonate & deceive his doting base. Everything with him is about optics, not substance. Since he’s proven to be a leader that is all deceptive bluster & no real action, we need to find a new president who’ll get serious about the ongoing plight of middle-class working families. That’s why as I stated in my opening above, voters in 2020 can go with the do-nothing GOP to keep supporting wealthy corporate oligarchs who work in cahoots with the crony-capitalist political establishment, which is the very definition of the deep-state swamp that needs drained. Or we can vote Dem & give workers at least a shot at reclaiming lost ground. Sometimes I think their progressive ideas are overly ambitious, but they could be well worth a try since it sure beats doing nothing.
This is the Article which Inspired My Opening Comments Above
Yes indeed, the op-ed below paints a battle between the oligarchs against the workers. For those who would vote GOP that favors oligarchs when they’re not oligarchs themselves, we can only ask WHY??? The way our capitalistic system has evolved, it is now awash with crony capitalism where the oligarchs have the power to manipulate conditions that only favor themselves. Heading into the election campaign, the oligarchs will wind up spending billions of dollars to sway some of the working class over to their side (whom they regard as puppets), so those voters will unwittingly act on behalf of those crony capitalists & against their own interests. Remember, I’m a lifelong GOP supporter, but this is a far cry from the GOP we knew & loved. The party now under Trump’s complete control fights tooth & nail to preserve his deep state & maintain the establishment swamp, ensuring income & wealth inequality keep escalating to even more obscene levels, which can ultimately threaten democracy itself. Especially in recent years as statistics have verified the growing gaps between the rich & everyone else, most people & politicians have come to understand the daunting challenge that needs tackled. The whole article from newsweek.com/robert-reich-oligarchy-democracy is posted here & again I ask the obvious question to GOP voters…WHY???:
I keep hearing that the Democratic party has moved “left” and that some Democratic candidates may be “too far left.” But in this era of unprecedented concentration of wealth and political power at the top, I can’t help wondering what it means to be “left.” A half-century ago, when America had a large and growing middle class, those on the “left” sought stronger social safety nets and more public investment in schools, roads and research. Those on the “right” sought greater reliance on the free market. Yet as wealth and power have concentrated at the top, everyone else – whether on the old right or the old left – has become disempowered and less secure. Safety nets have unraveled, public investments have waned, and the free market has been taken over by crony capitalism and corporate welfare cheats. Washington and state capitals are overwhelmed by money coming from the super-rich, Wall Street, and big corporations.
So why do we continue to hear and use the same old “right” and “left” labels? I suspect it’s because the emerging oligarchy feels safer if Americans are split along the old political battle lines. That way, Americans won’t notice they’re being shafted. In reality, the biggest divide in America today runs between oligarchy and democracy. When oligarchs fill the coffers of political candidates, they neuter democracy. The oligarchs know politicians won’t bite the hands that feed them. So as long as they control the money, they can be confident there will be no meaningful response to stagnant pay, climate change, military bloat, or the soaring costs of health insurance, pharmaceuticals, college and housing. There will be no substantial tax increases on the wealthy. No antitrust enforcement to puncture the power of giant corporations. No meaningful regulation of Wall Street’s addiction to gambling with other peoples’ money. Big corporations will continue to get subsidies. The largest banks will continue to be too big to fail. CEO pay will continue to skyrocket. Wall Street hedge fund and private equity managers will continue to make off like bandits.
So long as the oligarchy divides Americans – splits off people of color from working-class whites, stokes racial resentments, describes human beings as illegal aliens, launches wars on crime and immigrants, fuels fears of communists and socialists – it doesn’t have to worry that a majority will stop them from looting the nation. Divide-and-conquer allows the oligarchy free rein. It makes the rest of us puppets, fighting each other on a made-up stage. Donald Trump is the puppet master. He has been at it for years, long before he ran for president. He knows how to pit native-born Americans against immigrants, the working class against the poor, whites against blacks and Latinos. He is well-versed in getting evangelicals and secularists steamed up about abortion, equal marriage rights, out-of-wedlock births, access to contraception, transgender bathrooms. He knows how to stir up fears of brown-skinned people from “shitholes” streaming across the border to murder and rape, and stoke anger about black athletes who don’t stand for the national anthem. He’s a master at fueling anxieties about so-called communists and socialists taking over America. He can make the white working class believe they’ve been losing good jobs and wages because of a cabal of Democrats, “deep state” bureaucrats and Hillary Clinton.
From the start, Trump’s deal with the oligarchy has been simple: he’ll stoke tribalism so most Americans won’t see CEOs getting exorbitant pay while they’re slicing the pay of average workers, won’t pay attention to Wall Street demanding short-term results over long-term jobs, and won’t notice a boardroom culture that tolerates financial conflicts of interest, insider trading and the outright bribery of public officials through unlimited campaign “donations.” The only way to overcome the oligarchy and Trump’s divide-and-conquer strategy is for the rest of us to join together and win America back. This means creating a multi-racial, multi-ethnic coalition of working-class, poor and middle-class Americans who will fight for democracy and oppose oligarchy.
Short Bits on the Same Topic of Income & Wealth Inequality
Low unemployment along with decent job & GDP growth, plus a record stock market, help mask but cannot correct the underlying decay that has been riddling our economy for many years: msn.com/en-us/money/markets/unemployment-is-low-but-thats-only-part-of-the-story
In these articles below, just look at the disparities in the system when the benefits of economic growth all go in one direction, with much of the American working class being left high & dry. Income inequality is a real concern with wealth inequality an even bigger problem, as the spoils of massive wealth our economy does create keep being hoarded by the ultra-wealthy:
Wealth inequality is seen in the way giant corporate monoliths can dominate & run roughshod over smaller competitors: alternet.org/2019/07/how-amazon-and-other-cash-burning-giants-are-illegally-cornering-the-market
Wealth inequality is wreaking havoc on family farms, with big corporate concerns controlling the supply & marketing chains where most of the profits are derived: alternet.org/2019/07/how-the-raw-greed-of-corporate-monopolists-has-squeezed-the-farming-industry
The wealth inequality also extends to a handful of cities compared to the rest of the country: axios.com/era-of-winner-take-all-cities
Bold boasts followed by broken promises with manufacturing still struggling, as a clueless prez has no idea about the details & nuances of any given issue: theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jul/10/trump-workers-jobs-overseas-factories
A fix needs to be found for our retirement crisis. It’s been a crisis coming on for decades as prosperity wasn’t shared in any meaningful way among the rank & file workers: theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/07/public-option-can-ease-retirement-crisis
Young people are also bearing the brunt of our uneven economy, with student loan debt depriving them of investing in other various life necessities & options: usatoday.com/story/money/2019/07/08/student-loans-debt-forcing-some-abandon-career-dreams
Businesses may not be negatively impacted by a higher minimum wage when their competitors are also following suit: theguardian.com/business/2019/jul/14/us-minimum-wage-increase-businesses-prepared
We must both embrace & brace for big bold ideas because they’re inevitable: theguardian.com/books/2015/jul/17/postcapitalism-end-of-capitalism-begun
The GOP has had years to come up with a better approach to health care, which their dismal failure suggests they can’t find anything better. Nonetheless, Trump is striving hard to deprive many Americans of their healthcare coverage while also undermining protections for preexisting conditions. Rather than improving or fixing Obamacare, Trump aims to make things worse by going backwards. Once Team-Trump gets over themselves & all the hollow talking points they promised their base, we should finally admit to ourselves a public option is needed as most of the rest of the developed world has already figured out, which can be done initially without taking away the private employer-sponsored plans:
Economic Dignity the Missing Component
It’s something not measured by the monthly jobs report, since it’s far more important than unemployment rates or the number of new jobs created. Such dignity involves the sense of achievement, security & respect that comes from earning enough to support a family, while having the means to enjoy quality time with friends & family. That’s what is so sorely missing these days among way too many people even with full-time jobs. So all this glitzy economic data that positively impacts only a segment of the population, it doesn’t really improve how most people are living their lives. This next article on the matter of family issues & pursuing careers with purpose while living up to one’s potential, the American worker is being shortchanged. Plus the pay is generally still stagnant. Too many are viewing this economy through rose-colored glasses, which denies the importance of fixing the entrenched structural troubles. These excerpts on the lack of dignity come from theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2019/07/economics-dignity-gene-sperling:
Gene Sperling, who served as an economic adviser to Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and frequently contributes to The Atlantic, has come to the same conclusion. “As someone who has had a box seat in the national economic dialogue for the last 25, 30 years, there was just increasingly something that bothered me,” he said last Saturday at the Aspen Ideas Festival, which is co-hosted by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic. “I noticed that there was a tendency, as time went on, to take your eye off the ball. You’re there to help people’s lives. You’re there to increase the happiness and fulfillment of real people.” But, he said, economists and policy makers too often set their sights on certain goals—high GDP and low unemployment—that can disregard how Americans actually feel. To re-center economics in people’s lived experiences, Sperling proposed the adoption of a different goal: dignity. Dignity should not be framed as a new metric to fulfill by checking off items on a list or to quantify with percentages and dollar signs, he said. Instead, it should be treated as a protective sphere akin to the Constitution’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment in the criminal-justice system: an assured base-level quality of life. Economic dignity would mean being able “to care for your family and enjoy the most meaningful moments of family life, without economic deprivation taking away those most meaningful moments,” Sperling said. It would mean being able “to pursue your potential and your purpose.” And finally, it would mean being able “to participate in the economy without domination and humiliation.”
By Sperling’s criteria, he said, America is failing on all three fronts. Even as the unemployment rate in the United States is hovering near a 50-year low, the country has no universal paid-family-leave requirement to ensure that new parents have time to spend with their infant children or to heal after birth. No law grants employees bereavement leave with which to mourn loved ones and begin to piece their lives back together in their absence. The federal minimum wage falls beneath the poverty line for families of two or more. Officially, about 13 million Americans—and likely more unofficially—have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet. The U.S. also fails to provide adequate support for people who have lost their jobs, Sperling said, and adequate resources with which to find new ones. Students are taking on crippling debt to go to college. In 2017, 12.3 percent of Americans were living in poverty. Together, Sperling observed, that adds up to millions of Americans living without what he defines as economic dignity: unable to provide a basic quality of life for themselves and the people they love, enduring unfulfilling or downright exploitative work conditions out of a desperate need for money. And with the nation’s economic mobility in sharp decline over the past few decades, many workers and their families could remain mired in that state for generations.
Income & Wealth Inequality Especially Hitting Hard with African-Americans, Manufacturing Workers & Rural Communities
The problem of vast income & wealth inequality are so glaringly obvious, it’s a dereliction of duty for politicians now & going back in time to have neglected this primary economic difficulty. Both parties have been to blame, but at least lately Dems are searching for remedies, while the GOP continues to act like nothing to see here! Their hands-off approach relying on the free market to sort it all out is a surefire recipe to substantially increase income & wealth inequality even more as time goes bye. Whatever we’ve been doing just hasn’t been working for an enormous number of working Americans, so it’s way past time to shake things up with new ideas. These are among the groups who really need to catch a break with innovative new initiatives to get the economy to work for them too, seen in excerpts from inside nytimes.com/2019/07/10/opinion/trump-economy.html:
Much of that decline is because of widening income inequality — when wage disparities increase, those closer to the bottom (where a disproportionate number of black Americans are clustered) fall further behind. But that’s not the only reason; discrimination also plays a role. Even after controlling for differences in age, gender, education and region, black workers are currently paid about 16 percent less than their white counterparts. (And when it comes to wealth, the numbers are even worse; the median white American family has 10 times the net worth of the median black family.) While a vast majority of African-Americans typically vote Democratic, turnout among this group — which fell in 2016 — can be an important factor in a presidential election.
Another group of Americans who have not fared well over an extended period of time are manufacturing workers. The chart below focuses on the automobile sector; it shows that wages of autoworkers, after adjusting for inflation, fell by 26 percent between 2002 and 2013. And since then, real earnings for this group have barely budged. (Of course, many of these individuals are those white working-class Americans who helped President Trump to victory in 2016 — raising questions about their likely fealty to him in 2020.)
Then there are geographic differences. Since the economic recovery took hold, many major urban centers have prospered, as jobs in “knowledge industries” have proliferated and as many young people have moved to these population clusters. That has left more rural areas — particularly in the South — behind. For example, for the first portion of the recovery, wages in New York City and in Mississippi followed a similar trajectory of little change, after adjusting for inflation. But beginning in the middle of 2016, the pattern of wage changes began to diverge — earnings rose steadily in New York City while they began an erratic — but overall — decline in Mississippi. Democrats are unlikely to capture Mississippi in the 2020 election, but the disaffection of rural voters around the country could be costly to Mr. Trump.
Some Lies Routinely Told by the GOP to Justify Their Errant Agenda
Trump & the GOP keep ignoring & lying about inequality since they don’t want to deal with it. Other than the moral catastrophe that is Trump & overwhelming evidence of his criminal behavior, this economic issue alone should be enough to put a Dem in the White House to address this chronic condition. Those conservative lies about inequality are explained in this article posted from alternet.org/2019/07/robert-reich-reveals-the-4-biggest-conservative-lies-about-inequality which are just excuses to justify doing nothing:
Even though we’re heading toward levels of inequality not seen since the days of the 19th century robber barons, conservatives keep lying about what’s happening and what to do about it. Here are their four biggest lies about inequality, followed by the truth.
- The rich and CEOs are America’s job creators, so we dare not tax them.
The truth is the middle class and poor are the job-creators through their purchases of goods and services. If they don’t have enough purchasing power because they’re not paid enough, companies won’t create more jobs and the economy won’t grow. The giant Trump-Republican tax cut for corporations and the rich hasn’t trickled down to ordinary Americans. It’s just made the rich even richer.
- People are paid what they’re worth in the market, so we shouldn’t tamper with pay.
Wrong. Four decades ago, CEOs of big companies got 30 times the pay of typical workers. Now they get 361 times their workers’ pay. It’s not because they’ve done such a great job, but because they control the compensation committees of their boards. They’re using corporate profits to buy back even more shares of stock so their total compensation rises even more. And, they’re monopolizing the economy at the same time. Meanwhile, most American workers earn nearly the same today as they did forty years ago, adjusted for inflation. That’s not because they’re working less hard now, but because they don’t have strong unions bargaining for them, as they did then.
- Any child can make it in America with enough guts, gumption, and intelligence, so we don’t need to do anything for poor and working-class kids.
The truth is we already do next to nothing for poor and working class kids. Their schools don’t have enough teachers or staff, their textbooks are outdated, they lack science labs, their school buildings are falling apart. We don’t help with costs of child care. We don’t invest in early childhood education. We spend less educating poor kids than we do educating kids from wealthy families.
- Increasing the minimum wage will result in fewer jobs, so we shouldn’t raise it.
In fact, studies show that in states where the minimum wage has been increased, the number of jobs increases. That’s because minimum-wage workers have more money to spend – resulting in more jobs, and also saving employers money on employee turnover. America’s lurch toward widening inequality can be reversed. But doing so will require bold political steps. And the American public must know the facts. So don’t listen to the right-wing lies about inequality. Know the truth, and act on it.
Economic Growth Brought to Us through Deficit Spending
We’ve got to hand it to Trump, his tax cuts may not be making America great again, but it’s certainly making deficits great again. Once the temporary sugar-high wears off & GDP growth starts to slip, Trump will falsely try deflecting the blame by accusing the Fed & the Dems. But in the meantime, America will have dug themselves deeper into the hole:
This economic adviser is a trickle-down moron towing the Trump party line: businessinsider.com/trumps-economic-advisor-national-debt-deficit-spending
Even at the state level we’ve seen proof trickle down is nothing but a mirage: alternet.org/2019/07/what-kansas-rebounding-economy-tells-us-about-the-farce-of-republican-tax-cuts
Just Don’t Dare Mess with the Full Faith & Credit of the United States
We’ve only got a couple months or less to avert disaster. While our debt is escalating out of control, we still must not default on our obligations to pay the debts we’ve already incurred. With our bitter polarization bringing about gridlock & the inability to even negotiate, there’s a real risk of DC bringing on a self-inflicted catastrophe:
Is this Becoming Our Greatest Threat?
Could be, as cyberattacks may in effect become as destructive as nuclear bombs. While we’ve already experienced the troubles with Russia messing in our elections, that could be the tip of the iceberg in the way more aggressive, sophisticated, widespread attacks could threaten our whole economy. And since we’re missing presidential leadership, we’re not making the proper preparations & erecting adequate defenses to prevent foreign enemies from staging such attacks: msn.com/en-us/money/markets/ceos-say-cybersecurity-is-the-biggest-threat-to-the-world-economy
Master Performance by an Accomplished Con Man
It’s truly amazing the way our prez deflects serious questions through lies & exaggerations, while what’s even more amazing is the way his base keeps believing whatever he says: vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/7/12/20691852/trump-press-conference-gaslighting-acosta
He Said What?
Trump & His Accomplices Unleash False Allegations of Socialism
There’s no comparison between democratic socialism & communism, much like there’s no comparison between pragmatic conservatism & the radicalized pseudo-conservatism popularized lately by Trump & his media echo: newshounds.us/fox_fear_mongers_democrats_wreck_many_lives_socialism
The Real Socialism Problem
Let’s end these socialistic-like handouts: salon.com/2019/07/14/why-states-and-cities-should-stop-hand-outs-to-companies
And Dems Should Avoid Giving Them The Ammunition
As Dem candidates appeal to their rabid progressive base, I would humbly suggest please don’t give the GOP ammo for their favorite talking points against the Dems. The GOP shouldn’t be allowed to get traction with their oft-repeated complaints about socialism, open borders, take away private health insurance, take away all the guns, yada yada yada. They’ll also complain about the various costly government spending initiatives which Dems should avoid going overboard on. The Dems along with us ex-Republicans are on this team together, as we’ve all had enough of Trump’s chaotic nonsense. The first order of business is to win back the White House & perhaps even the Senate, so we can put out the fire of this radical right-wing Trumpian agenda & work towards actually making America great again. Dems can choose anyone they like & the energy seems to be with far-left progressivism, but please allow me to issue this caution. Going left risks bringing on extremist far-right demagoguery for another 4 years as explained inside these links, & the last thing America needs is a Trump second term:
The oligarchs would have us believe those struggling financially must be lazy bums, that their lowly lot in life had to be misfortunes of their own making. But those without the right education or credentials, missing the specialized or higher skills employers prefer, can face a dismal reality & future. I’ve seen it around these parts in NE Ohio, where those who started their young careers in blue-collar factory jobs, expecting to lead a life like their fathers & grandfathers with well-paying factory jobs featuring full benefits & pensions, had their expectations shattered when the factories & jobs disappeared. Cleveland & many surrounding communities had a similar sordid tale the past 4 decades as the Detroit area, hemorrhaging manufacturing employment as communities lost their economic vitality & lots of their population, while working class families were put under enormous financial stress from plunging incomes & property values, from which a large number of them never really recovered. These people were willing to work hard to make a living, but the odds got stacked against them & business/government leadership virtually ignored & abandoned their plight.
The Cleveland story is kind of the exact opposite of the San Francisco area experience. As the hub of the Silicon Valley high-tech bonanza, tremendous wealth has been created practically overnight. There are newly-minted billionaires running around all over the area. That’s right, I said billions with a b, not just millions with an m. Average incomes are rather high while home prices have shot up into the millions, while my daughter is now living there shopping for a small apartment where rent will run several thousand per month. But all in not right in paradise. Workers with a typical income can’t even afford to live there. That’s given rise to 1% of the San Fran population now being homeless. Details of this wealth inequality scenario of haves & have nots in the heart of this region creating massive wealth are revealed inside these links:
Here’s an old classic from a half-century ago about a man moving to the Bay area but couldn’t find his way, so is now living on the dock of the bay. It seems like these lyrics ring truer these days more than ever: