Houle: Wealth inequality is becoming dangerous

So how do we stop the 1%, .01% and the .00025 with a tool that is actually effective? Obviously the ‘Occupy Movement’ was a failure for many reasons with the most glaring being it was hijacked by the wealthy. Turning it into a circus by injecting emotional false flg issues that had nothing to do with wealth inequality.

I have an idea that perhaps might be work and that everyone can participate. Simple IRL activism of “DON’T SPEND MONEY”. Only buy necessities.

Recent article of many with details of the problem of wealth inequality.

www.heraldtribune.com/news/20190…-dangerous

Houle: Wealth inequality is becoming dangerous

By David Houle
Posted Mar 18, 2019 at 2:01 AM

In the last three decades global wealth inequality has increased to historic levels. Recent articles suggest that we have returned to 1920s-era levels. Basic history knowledge informs us what happened at the end of the 1920s in October 1929.

The last 40 years has been very good to the top 1 percent, .01 percent and the .00025 percent of the U.S households both in terms of wealth accumulation and income. In an insightful column in the Washington Post, Christopher Ingraham pointed out the staggering shift from the middle class to the top elite since 1980. The richest 400 Americans — .00025 percent of the population — increased their share of the nation’s wealth from less than 1 percent to more than 3 percent.

Another way of saying this is that the top .00025 percent of the population own more than the bottom 150 million Americans, which is the bottom 60 percent. This bottom 60 percent saw their share of the wealth decline from 5.5 percent in the early 1980s to 2 percent today.

Part of this is due to the different increases in household income. In constant 2016 dollars, the income of the bottom 10 percent actually declined from 1965 to 2016. The top 10 percent saw their household income increase by 80 percent.

Time congruent to this is the dramatic increase in the use of money in politics. The wealthy donate a disproportionate amount of total money given to politicians. These politicians then listen to the rich. This is a key reason why there has been no legislative changes made to improve the economics for the bottom 50 percent of the population; they have little influence on legislation. So, the rich continue to get richer.

This is not simply a U.S. situation, though the inequality is greater in the U.S. than other major countries. Here is the current amount of wealth controlled by the top 10 percent of each country:

• U.S. 76 percent

• Russia 70 percent

• China 68 percent

• France 54 percent

• Great Britain 51 percent

• Brazil 56 percent

• Germany 40 percent

• Japan 42 percent

All of these numbers are much higher than they were in the 1970s.

Since the Brexit vote in England and Trump’s election, much has been written that nationalism is on the increase, populism is on the increase and many people want to “go back” to a time when it all felt better. This is why “Make America Great Again” was such an effective tag line for Trump. The good old days. The 30 years after WWII. Well, in countries all around the world, that time period had much lower levels of inequality than today. Oh, so good old days means less wealth inequality.

Why the title of this column? If you really look and listen, much of what is happening today can be directly traced back to a strong sense of unfairness felt by the lower 50 percent of the populations of many countries of the current wealth inequality. It is that fact that is triggering what many deem nationalistic demonstrations.

Media pundits here in the states have cited the Yellow Jackets in France as having been launched because of an increase in the gasoline tax. That people will demonstrate to keep the government from taxing gasoline. Well yes, it was an increased tax on gasoline, but it was really the straw that broke the camel’s back on the widely-held belief that the French economy is oriented toward the rich.

Should wealth inequality not be dealt with at the government level, there could well be more and more Yellow Jacket movements starting around the globe. What the wealthy and their paid-for politicians need to truly understand is that the wealth inequality now present is perhaps the most significant threat to them as it is putting stress on the social and economic fabric.

Just think back to the recent government shut-down. What the real news was how many people, federal government workers and those that relied on them, were living so close to the edge, that missing just one paycheck put them and their families totally at risk. Food banks for our government workers! That isn’t America. What was America was how people stepped up to help fellow citizens in need.

In Sarasota this wealth inequality is openly apparent. How many times, particularly in season, does one see a Bentley, Rolls Royce or high-end Porsche waiting at a red light right next to an old pick-up truck or old beat-up sedan. The average household income of those that live downtown or along the bay or on Longboat Key is twice as much as for those that live further east, on both sides of I-75.

The GINI coefficient is a measurement of wealth inequality. A 0 means complete wealth equality and a 1 means total wealth inequality. The GINI for Sarasota is lower — better — that for the U.S. — .465 to .485. That is good. However, the income inequality distribution GINI increased by 3 percent from 2015 to 2016 in Sarasota. So relative to wages, we are going in the wrong direction.

Historically, whenever there has been the wealth inequality that exists today in the world, there has often been revolutions or populist uprisings. Of course, there is the reference at the top of this column about the stock market crash that triggered the Great Depression. So, revolutions and uprisings, and economic collapse are tied to increasing wealth inequality.

We know this history. It is one we don’t want repeated. So as Sarasota residents and as Americans we really do have to act. We have to support policy measures that will decrease wealth inequality. We have to run our businesses and institutions with wealth inequality in mind.

A prosperous city and country means prosperity for as many people as possible, not for as few as possible.

 

 

AC

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