Tuesday, April 03, 2007

What percentile are you?

Believe it or not, my life is not all joy and dope fiends and sex perverts and circus clowns and alligators. Nope. Some times I try and focus on serious topics, like the economic health of our great nation. And when I do focus long enough to read stories like this one in the Boston Globe, my head hurts.

The chart at right is from the March 28 Economic Snapshots page at the Economic Policy Institute. Here's the title:

Recent income gains went to those with highest income. Here's an excerpt:

The economy expanded in 2005, with gross domestic product and productivity both posting solid gains (3.2% and 2.1%, respectively). Yet, as shown in the chart ..., real market income (i.e., income aside from government transfers) actually fell slightly (-0.6%) for those in the bottom 90% of the income scale.

Income growth for households within the 90-95th percentile was moderate in 2005, up 2.2%. But higher income households did much better. In fact, income growth among the top half of the top 1%—a group whose average annual income is already $1.8 million—was up another 16% in 2005 alone.
So, in other words, wealth distribution in this country has come to resemble Bruce Campbell's pitch in those Old Spice ads:

If you have it, you don't need it. If you need it, you don't have it. If you have it, you need more of it. If you have more of it, you don't need less of it. You need it to get it. And you certainly need it to get more of it. But if you don't already have any of it to begin with, you can't get any of it to get started...
Look around: a million Americans went bankrupt as a result of medical problems in 2004, and half of all bankruptcies in this nation are due to medical issues. Household debt continues to rise.

The subprime lending market is falling apart, having suckered millions of people into buying houses they couldn't really afford, or borrowing against the paper value of their homes.

I got an email from my friend Bawb the Revelator under the heading "And from the 'I GOT MINE, UP YOURS' desk". That caught my eye, and I opened it to find this L.A. Times story about the latest business failure:

Subprime lender New Century files for bankruptcy, fires 3,200 people

You know, you just
know, that for those 3,200 drones who are now out of work, and all those thousands of foreclosures and bankruptcies, that there were quite a few people (maybe that top 1 percent?) who made out like bandits.

It seems to me that for the last 7 years there's been a conscious effort to ransack the middle of this country to enrich a handful of cronies and greedheads at the top. Enron, the subcontracting of the war in Iraq, the bungling horrors of Katrina--if we thought about it we could probably name even more examples of that predator mindset, the one that says maximize profit and f*ck the consequences. This is what happens when you have a president who's quite open about looking out for that top 1%, and doesn't care at all about the bottom 90.

1 comment:

Dino aka Katy said...

autsch my head hurts after all that talk about economics