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New 2015 Wealth Data: U.S. Inequality at its Ugliest


#1

New 2015 Wealth Data: U.S. Inequality at its Ugliest

Paul Buchheit

Bernie Sanders showed his outrage about inequality at the Democratic Debate, and more and more Americans are understanding his message. Indignation is likely to grow with new data from the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook, which reveals the wealthy elite's continuing disdain for the poor, for the middle class, and for people all around the world.


#2

This inequitable distribution within the country is causing great social distress. Those who facilitate it with "patriotic" appeal to (hyper-financialized) capitalism (Fox News, etc.) keep a great deal of the population thinking and voting against their best interests. The Orwellian capture of their minds is both tragic and comic in nature. Only when these people wake up will change be possible. Until then, the forecast calls for more bread and circuses.


#3

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation."

― Henry David Thoreau, Walden & Civil Disobedience

This is Bernie's challenge, to upend this quiet acceptance, understandable cynicism, this quiet desperation, in the face of such obscene inequalities. The only meaningful vote in the upcoming election, is a vote for Bernie Sanders, anything else is a waste of time. I have no intention of going through the motions for the sake of going through the motions. If Bernie doesn't win, I'll go for a walk, or I'll read a good book, in quiet desperation.


#4

The inequality is the result of an overall slide into fascism with the neutering of consumer and environmental protection agencies, continued loss of our constitutional rights, voter ID laws designed to make it hard for the poor to vote and so much more. Yes, America is exceptional. It has become the model for predatory and corporate controlled capitalism.


#6

Look anywhere in the rural American heartland and everywhere you see loan sharks preying on a desperately impoverished people. Payday loan and title loan rackets deprive people of whatever small wages they make and whatever used vehicle they drive. The narcotics that pour into the U.S. from Afghanistan, Mexico and other regions wrecked by U.S. military and trade policies complete the enslavement of the poor. Combine these forces with a cheap processed food diet and cigarettes provided by top corporations, and most end up sick and prematurely aged . Mindless cheap entertainment, not to mention alcohol and demented religions, weaken any sustained thought about How things could be different. And then there's mass incarceration to deal with the rage, greed, and despair created by such policies.

Bernie Sanders will probably not become president and even if he did, the archaic political system would render him powerless. The media - thanks to multimillionaire comedians - is well on its way to making him ridiculous in the eyes of many. But he has raised for the first time in a century the socialist dream of a more rational and fairer order of society, and that is unlikely to go away.


#9

Op-ed in Murdoch's NYPost today explains how wealth inequality isn't a crisis at all, just another liberal socialist anti-American hoax. Or something. Because trickle down. And freedom stuff happens.


#10

Excellent first paragraph and analysis. I hope your prediction (in your 2nd paragraph) doesn't pan out, although unfortunately, a certain pattern is in place.

What I applaud in your comment is that unlike Wise Owl--who, as usual, is "first up" to set the trend for the discussion, you don't take the "blame voters/citizens" ball and run with it. "History" and "Red Raven" also reinforce "Wise Owl's" line of discussion by making the problem--AS USUAL--into faulting voter-citizens.

The flaw in this argument, an argument that I have exposed on many occasions for its insistence on assigning blame to those with the least capacity to shift the agenda, are found in the following facts:

  1. The true powers of our era are hidden and operate on a global scale
  2. These powers, using legal muscle to undo established law, are pushing odious items like the TPP which turn any sovereign voting public, i.e. national population into passive recipients of those policies that the big corporations wish to deploy

The constant "boot to the head" premise that looks away from all of the things being done to impoverish, sicken, demoralize, and disempower workers and instead blame these individuals for their state is of the same mindset that sees:

  1. Military gunning people down and after the fact accusing them of terrorist acts
  2. Police gunning down Black kids and assigning them blame for being out and about, carrying nonexistent weapons, or being Black

This is the language of power. It's the language of those who are part of the dominator system or otherwise identify with it.

The premise that human beings know what freedom and self-determination feel like--as if THAT was a commonly held experience--is itself faulty. Blacks are still fighting for the vote, and women are still fighting for biological control of their own bodies (within a rape & misogynistic culture); and workers are still fighting for a living wage; and Indigenous peoples everywhere are still fighting the armed conquistadors (in modern form, the corporations).

The PROBLEM of entrenched power--from royal families and their dynastic equivalents here inside the homeland, to church, state, banking, and military elites--is one that has been ongoing for many centuries. Pretending that American citizens uniquely "get IT wrong" and therefore are to blame is a ridiculous narrative. And it certainly IS a narrative (or Talking Point) or it would not be the number one meme repeated by posters who are usually first up and post OFTEN.

It's a blame-the-victim argument used to protect the Status Quo.


#11

Don't forget the "class envy" propaganda that will heat up a lot more if that Scrooge-like, amoral imbecile, Paul Ryan gets wooed back into Congress. This guy can lie through his teeth while turning every advancement of the 1%'s interests into something he's allegedly doing to save this nation.


#13

"That seems impossible, with so many extremely poor countries, and it requires a second look at the data, and then a third look."

A little bit misleading, don't you think prof?

From the report:
" To be among the wealthiest half of the world in mid-2015, Table 3-4 shows that an adult needs only USD 3,210in assets, once debts have been subtracted. "

So a "family of four" (to use a common phrase) with both adults employed in lucrative jobs, living in 3000sqft house and having an SUV and a sedan in the garage are considered poor cuz they have a $200k mortgage and 50k car loans. Yes it does "a second look at the data, and then a third look." but mostly it also requires context,


#14

Zero increase for social security recipients for 2016 will make life more difficult for millions of Americans.


#17

Who better to cite than HDT, one of the most progressive and prescient philosophers of the 19th Century. I might suggest that the "first" meaningful vote is in the Demo primaries, for Bernie has to deal with that feted and moribund institution, the DNC before he can go for the gold.

I further suggest that if they push him out of the running, or rub him out (I don't perceive a great deal of SS activity around him), that you may consider Jill Stein. That's just a thought.


#18

Nice going WO. I have observed that you are most recently right on top of the thing, and for the most part, right on the money. Lately you have been jumping in here ahead of SR, and that in itself is like a breath of fresh air. I believe the strategy of succinctness has trumped( pun) Madame Sosostris' penchant to wank on and on in a show of or an effort to explicate, illuminate, elucidate, and accurate the intended assertions of the bloggers. Bravo - keep it up.


#19

Good point, but it is ultimately the decision of the individual to make the responsible choice. Blaming society in the end is just a cop-out and lack of personal responsibility.


#20

Another broadcast from Trollheim . Blame the victim always . The proponents of the school of individual responsibility never EVER seem to apply it to murdering cops and their blue wall of silence accomplices after the fact , corrupt prosecutors , bribed Congress critters , banks mass producing fraudulent mortgage and foreclosure papers , Wall Street casino gamblers who have rigged interest rates worldwide [remember LIBOR?] and bankrupted entire countries , private contractors who've bilked Uncle Sam out of billions and endangered the lives of military personnel with shoddy equipment , etc. .And that's just the short list !


#21

I know, i know. It's always someone else's fault. Preferably some imaginary higher power (God, the Devil, society, banks) that makes people do things against their will. With a loser mentality like that no wonder society is going down.

Trust me, if people would exercise some common sense and personal responsibility the world would be a much better place.


#22

IT IS TIME

It is time to be nothing
but a poem, time
to forgo the tender hope of
far lightning
above the trees at dusk:
we are nothing but silent flashes.
A poem, like us,
is nothing;
it is the best we can do.

Once the world was dust and wind
and we left the house behind
to kneel in the black choke of drifts,
our noses full of grit our eyes
blinded by little diseases
and all the remains of the sky
dropped like leftover fireworks
at the end of a forgotten celebration.

*

We sneak into the broken orchards
under the moon
rolling like planets
in the firmament of an irrevocable
expansion. Starving
we find the wormholes and the puckers
in the sweet rotting flesh.
The bears come up the swale
and fight us for our bones.
We rarely win.

*

The poor wrote the world
its staff and its key
the rich wallow in a mélange of the soup
on the surface of the destitute.
They forget this, they have built their fences
high enough.
They love the unfettered sunsets
that red that is our blood.

*

We want to survive
by being avoided
or beaten enough to be paid
to be broken.
We will be given a little apartment
with mold and mice
if we can escape our tenure of being
completely uncounted.

*

Stars beyond the stars,
stars after the final spread
of the molasses of space
disappear from our version
of how we do not matter
because we will be forever blocked
from the light.

*

I am nothing.
Poems disappear as quickly
as they sing,
an owl's silent wings
by my ear after the final brush
of dusk.
Was it really there?
We will go back to our tent
and the darkness will never relent.


#23

In what way are people not exercising some common sense and personal responsibility? In my little world people are doing the best they can.


#24

Umm, let's say signing a mortgage they cannot possibly pay while lying about their income. Cuz that's what we were talking about earlier. Or buying new car every three years and complaining about $20k in student loans. Stuff like that.

If you're in the general age group that uses this site, you might be right. Seniors still have a little decency left as it was instilled into them by their parents. They just failed miserably to pass that on to their kids.


#25

Siouxrose, blaming the voters for what happens in the country makes as much sense as blaming bachelors for being unmarried. What else is going to happen but what the people vote for.

As Mencken said: "Democracy is the theory that the people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard."

But you are correct to state that it is arrogant to claim that if the voters vote vor people I don't like, then this is because they are stupid.


#26

Huh?

Paul Ryan is currently in Congress. It is incoherent to say that he will be wooed back to Congress.

He is a devotee of Ayn Rand and thinks selfishness is a virtue. You may disagree with this, but he has every right to think this just as you have every right to reject it.