The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Cliché, sure, but it’s also more true than at any time since the Gilded Age.
The poor are getting poorer, wages are falling behind inflation, and social mobility is at an all-time low.
If you’re in that top 1%, life is grand.
I can’t grab their nice charts so you’ll have to click over to see the studies. Much of the data is compiled on charts issued by the Labor and Commerce Departments, but its convenient to have it all in one place. It’s nice coincidence that Bill Quigley who is Legal Director at the Center for Constitutional Rights and law professor at Loyola University New Orleans compiled some data on income inequality compared to the OECD – the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. OECD – “These 30 countries include Canada and most comparable European countries but also include some struggling countries like Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Korea, Mexico, Poland, Slovak Republic, and Turkey. See http://www.oecd.org” Nine Myths about Socialism in the US
Myth #1. The US government is involved in class warfare attacking the rich to lift up the poor.
There is a class war going on all right. But it is the rich against the rest of us and the rich are winning. The gap between the rich and everyone else is wider in the US than any of the 30 other countries surveyed. In fact, the top 10% in the US have a higher annual income than any other country. And the poorest 10% in the US are below the average of the other OECD countries. The rich in the U.S. have been rapidly leaving the middle class and poor behind since the 1980s.
Myth #2. The US already has the greatest health care system in the world.
Infant mortality in the US is 4th worst among OECD countries – better only than Mexico, Turkey and the Slovak Republic.
Myth #3. There is less poverty in the US than anywhere.
Child poverty in the US, at over 20% or one out of every five kids, is double the average of the 30 OECD countries.
[ ]…Myth #6. Poor people have more chance of becoming rich in the US than anywhere else.
Social mobility (how children move up or down the economic ladder in comparison with their parents) in earnings, wages and education tends to be easier in Australia, Canada and Nordic countries like Denmark, Norway, and Finland, than in the US. That means more of the rich stay rich and more of the poor stay poor here in the US.
Myth #7. The US spends generously on public education.
In terms of spending for public education, the US is just about average among the 30 countries of the OECD. Educational achievement of US children, however, is 7th worst in the OECD. On public spending for childcare and early education, the US is in the bottom third.
Myth #8. The US government is redistributing income from the rich to the poor.
There is little redistribution of income by government in the U.S. in part because spending on social benefits like unemployment and family benefits is so low. Of the 30 countries in the OECD, only in Korea is the impact of governmental spending lower.
One small beef with Prof. Quigley is the possibility that he is inadvertently implying all the OECD are socialist. Parts of their economy have been dedicated to providing a strong social safety net and in countries such as England, an education all the way through what would be a bachelor’s degree in the U.S. These are not giveaway programs – much like our Medicare and Social Security Insurance the people do pay for them. They are distinctly democratic or the CIA is lying. Many of these countries that the Right insists on calling socialist are also our partners in NATO and in various other defense and economic treaties and agreements. Once in a while I will hear a conservative call for disbanding NATO, but that upper 10% of income and wealth have direct economic connections with these “socialists”. So said socialism must not be that bad or America’s largest corporations and banks would not do business with them, right?
At the Business Insider link are the inevitable clichéd excuses for why income and wealth distribution is the way it is. I’m not going to get into every bizarre rationalization. The one that should be the most self-evident is that one has to believe that the top 10% do almost 90% of the work and add 90% of the value of goods and services. As we learned recently the tea bags are – contrary to the recent Gallop poll – tea bags represent relatively few people and of those that identity with the tea bags most also identify themselves as Conservative. Remember Thomas Frank’s book What’s the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America (2004) in which he tried to discover why conservatives in the median to low-income range support economic policies that are not in their best interests. The same is true of tea bags. Not all, but a simple majority of them are working class and are at the median income level or below. Watching a few of the videos of the tea bag rallies you might hear a grumble or two about Wall St, but the vast majority of the complaints consists of the completely unfounded belief the government is taking money from hard working Americans in the march toward authoritarian socialism and giving it to lazy people who do not want to work. Estimates vary but it is generally thought the Great Recession was the result of the loss of three trillion dollars in the nation’s wealth. It is beyond absurd to suggest that America’s working poor have that much economic power – and no, low-income housing loans did not cause the Great Recession. The original TARP was all about rescuing Wall St banks and holding companies – $700 billion – a spending bill overwhelmingly supported by Conservative legislators. As I previously stated you can find tea bags grumbling about Wall St, but that is not who the tea bags direct their anger, nor are the excesses of unregulated capitalism their top their priority.
The National Tea Party Federation describes itself “is a broad coalition of national and regional Tea Party groups that have come together to allow for clarity of message” and they stand for “Fiscal Responsibility, Constitutionally Limited Government and Free Markets”. In those nice safe broad terms I bet most of the readers of this blog believe in those things to. If that list of clichés sounds familiar it is because some of the supporting members of the NTPF include organizations like Americans for Prosperity, FreedomWorks and 60 Plus – right-wing astroturf groups. For a group of people who are reportedly the alternative to the conservatism that wrecked the country the tea nuts have a lot of the same backers, lobbyists and far Right thinks tanks with the same check books. The recent Gallop poll and to some extent the survey by the Winston Group tried to emphasize one thing above all else – tea bags are mainstream – see there are even some Democrats and some black folks. Why is there an attempt by people who have described themselves as outsiders speaking out against Washington insiders trying so hard to appear mainstream populist. Looking at the videos at YouTube, they have a way to go to undo the impression that are way outside the mainstream. But they’re outside the mainstream mostly in their cockeyed world view – many of them are on Medicare or collecting unemployment insurance or trying to live off Social Security. If that were not enough by way the cognitive dissonance for which regular old conservatives have become famous – tea nuts think the gov’mint should do more to create jobs – which is what many of the liberal complaints at sites like HuffPo and Alternet say.
Tea baggers also have a race problem. That is not to say that all tea baggers are white hood wearing racists, but they have a problem of perception about who is getting undeserved benefits from the government. This is where their views of race fit in perfectly with their sometimes ignorant and sometimes willful misconceptions about who to blame for the recession – Survey finds that racial attitudes influence the tea party movement in battleground states
A new University of Washington survey found that among whites, southerners are 12 percent more likely to support the tea party than whites in other parts of the U.S….
[ ]…It found that those who are racially resentful, who believe the U.S. government has done too much to support blacks, are 36 percent more likely to support the tea party than those who are not.
[ ]…Whites who disapprove of President Barack Obama, the survey found, are 55 percent more likely to support the tea party than those who say they approve of him.
This survey fits in with Ronald Reagan and the ‘welfare queen” myth as well as the Republican’s southern strategy. For conservatives the face of undeserved government benefits is black or non-white. While America as a whole has made progress towards doing away with those stereotypes, a large segment of tea baggers are still motivated by them.
Tea Party Activist And Senate Candidate: ‘If We Don’t See New Faces, I’m Cleaning My Guns And Getting Ready For The Big Show’ (VIDEO). Yea see, tea bags are perfectly rational.