A welcome to readers

As a resident of this planet for more than four fifths of a century, I have enjoyed both successes and disappointments in a wide variety of vocations, avocations, and life experiences. This blog satisfies my desire to share some thoughts and observations--trenchant and prosaic--with those who are searching for diversions which are interesting, poignant and occasionally funny. I also plan to share recommendations about good/great movies I've watched and books and articles which I've found particularly mind-opening, entertaining, instructive. In addition, I can't pass up the opportunity to reflect publicly on how I am experiencing the so-called Golden Years. Write anytime:

Thursday, September 25, 2014


Today I saw this chart in THE WEEK on the internet. Many economic forecasters have been describing and alerting us to this phenomenon for years, but to see it displayed graphically makes me heartsick--not only for me, but for the remainder of the 90% represented by the blue bars below. Of that 90%, I am pretty comfortable comparatively--I have a roof over my head, regular meals, can get medical attention when I need it, and can afford basic cable. There are many many Americans who are not so fortunate and can't afford the basics of food and housing.

My own situation, however, is not entirely stable--as the stock market grows and corporate profits hit record levels, the tide is actually going out rather than raising all ships in the harbor. My economic stasis or decline is exacerbated by my inability as a 78 year old retiree (on a basically fixed income) to increase my income or asset base in any meaningful or legal way. My dentist doesn't understand or care about this (fees go up markedly each visit), neither does my land lord (rent for the next 12 months will rise 10%), nor my super market, nor Walgreens (purveyor of prescription drugs), nor Humana (prescription insurance), nor the folks at Exxon Mobil. My cost of living just continues to go up faster than my income--with no change in my lifestyle, material possessions, security, or peace of mind.

Unequal distribution of income in America, with a minority accruing spendable income of unspeakable amounts and at outrageous rates, is rapidly creating a situation (or already has)where the only recourse will be for the 90% to take to the streets and forcibly redistribute the wealth. There may be no alternative because history tells us that we cannot count on our wealthy brethren  to self- police or self-regulate. Big money right now virtually controls the electoral process, so the democratic option of changing the system by voting is rapidly fading from sight.  Greed and "living fat" are simply too much fun and too easy to justify in a country where everything is for sale and material values, for most folks,  have long ago replaced anything remotely resembling ethical considerations with a spiritual or altruistic/idealistic foundation and focus. When you're really enjoying yourself, it's very hard to see, really see, the suffering around you.

I don't think that the Founders had this sort of outcome in mind when they established our Nation. 

The question that remains is: what shape or form will the "correction" will eventually take, and how long will  it be before people decide that the system is so badly broken that they have no choice but to act to fix it on their own?

How the rich devoured the American economy, in one chart
In America, a rising economic tide lifts all boats, right? Not anymore. Pavlina Tcherneva, an economist at Bard College, plotted the distribution of income growth between the bottom 90 percent and the top 10 percent during economic expansions in the United States. The red bars are the richest 10 percent of people, the blue bars are everyone else:
Now, this is only economic expansions, which explains the wonky interval choices at the bottom — 1974 is missing, for example, because that whole year was taken up by recession. Those recessions would also probably claw back some of the rich's income gains, since they get a lot of income from financial assets which crash in price during recessions (see p. 8 here).
But the trend here is undeniable. Economic expansions are supposed to be when the American economy distributes the fruits of growth to everyone. And that used to be true! But slowly and steadily the rich have gained on everyone else. They advance almost regardless of which party is in control of government — Reagan speeds it up, while Clinton slows it down, but not by very much.
Most staggering of all, during our current economic expansion, the bottom 90 percent is suffering declining incomes. Not only is the rising tide not lifting everyone equally, it's actually submerging nine out of ten people.
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