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Notes From the Fieldby Martin Weil

Posts Tagged ‘income disparity’

November 3, 2012

Way to go George!

It is being reported that George Lucas will give away the bulk of the $4B he is receiving from the Disney buyout of his wholly-owned LucasFilm.  Lucas made an earlier commitment to The Giving Pledge campaign by fellow billionaires, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates.  According to the reports, Lucas intends the bulk of the monies received from the sale to help fund education.

November 1, 2012

Highly Recommended

The Waiting Room follows 24 hours at an ER in Oakland, CA.  To my mind, it is neither sensationalist nor political.  It just tells the story, with great compassion, of the realities of living without medical insurance or access to primary care in America today.  If you have ever thought about healthcare delivery in the US, you should see this film.

July 24, 2012

$21T of wealth stashed in offshore banks?

A global super-rich elite had at least $21 trillion (£13tn) hidden in secret tax havens by the end of 2010, according to a major study. The figure is equivalent to the size of the US and Japanese economies combined. 

This from a BBC article on a recent study, The Price of Offshore Revisited, released by the Tax Justice Network.The banks with the most offshore assets are found to be UBS, Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs.

While the amount is contested, the breathtaking scope of the sums involved does explain the intensity with which the Treasuries of the US and UK in particular are pursuing banks in such well-known tax-havens as Switzerland and Lichtenstein. Let’s see, a conservative back-of-the-envelope calculation would see nominal income of $1T, in investment of $21T at 5%. Lost taxes on that amount, at say a 30% tax rate, would equal $300B, every year, and compounding.

July 14, 2012

A Little Weekend Class Warfare

the rich are way more likely to prioritize their own self-interests above the interests of other people. It makes them more likely to exhibit characteristics that we would stereotypically associate with, say, a**holes.

That is Paul Piff, UC Berkeley (where else?) researcher, discussing the results of his year long study of Monopoly players.  The quote comes from an article in New York Magazine (NB: the article’s accompanying illustrations will amuse some, offend others.)

December 19, 2011

Two sobering datapoints this holiday season

#1 A staggering 48 percent of all Americans are either considered to be “low income” or are living in poverty.
#2 Approximately 57 percent of all children in the United States are living in homes that are either considered to be “low income” or impoverished.

From a longer list by John Mauldin (subscription required)

November 28, 2011

We are closer to the 1930s than most of us realize

More than 16 million children are now living in poverty and, for many of them, a proper home is elusive. Some cash-strapped families stay with relatives; others move into motels or homeless shelters. But, sometimes those options run out, leaving an even more desperate choice: living in their cars.

This from a segment on CBS News’ “60 Minutes” last night.  That able-bodied Americans are having to live in parking lots, with their families, is appalling.

November 16, 2011

Dylan Ratigan channels his inner Howard Beale

Over the top?  You betcha.

To the point? Just like Howard Beale was.

Are you mad as hell yet?

November 1, 2011

“Occupy Wall Street”: Approved!

So says the doyenne of TV financial advice, Suze Orman.

October 21, 2011

Historical quote(s) of the week

America is good enough for me

J.P. Morgan

Whenever he doesn’t like it, he can give it back.

William Jennings Bryan

The Gilded Age and the Populist Movement of more than 100 years ago sounding very current in terms of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

June 20, 2011

Violating the 80/20 rule

It has been well-documented for some time (see Kevin Phillips’ 1991 The Politics of Rich and Poor) that income (and wealth) disparity in the US has widened dramatically since the 1980s. Per this chart from the Washington Post, the cumulative income share of the top 10% of earners (ave. income $127K) now equals the cumulative share of national income enjoyed by the bottom 90% of earners (ave. income $31K). This is far outside of the historical norm for the US and vastly more extreme than other countries in the developed world. The last time this degree of income disparity occurred in the US was in the late 1920s. We know how that turned out. For the entire article and more useful graphs, see here.

Count me in the camp of those who find this to be a critical and very disturbing trend. In the very last of this data, one can discern a possible reversal in disparity growth. One can always hope. My personal bottom line: If the middle class continues to be hollowed out in this country, it bodes ill for our social stability.

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