24 April 2017

Wages, Productivity, and Inequality

"Inequality is a euphemism, a kind of shorthand, for all of the things that have gone to make the lives of the rich so much more delicious, year on year, for the last three decades. And also for the things that have made the lives of working people so wretched and so precarious in that same time.

This word inequality. It's visible in the ever rising costs of healthcare and college, in the coronation of Wall Street, and the slow blighting of wherever it is that you happen to live. And you catch a glimpse of inequality every time you hear about someone that had to declare bankruptcy because a child got sick, or you read about the lobbying industry that drives Washington DC, or the new political requirement, the new constitutional requirement that every presidential candidate has to be a billionaire's favorite, or a billionaire themselves.

Inequality is about the way in which speculators, and even criminals, get a helping hand from Uncle Sam, while the Vietnam Vet down the street from you loses his house. Inequality is the reason that some people find such incredible significance in the ceiling height of an entrance foyer, or the hop content of a beer, while other people will never believe in anything again."

Thomas Frank

"People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage.  Intellectual myopia, often called stupidity, is no doubt a reason.  But the privileged also feel that their privileges, however egregious they may seem to others, are a solemn, basic, God-given right.  The sensitivity of the poor to injustice is a trivial thing compared with that of the rich."

John Kenneth Galbraith

"Capitalism is at risk of failing today not because we are running out of innovations, or because markets are failing to inspire private actions, but because we’ve lost sight of the operational failings of unfettered gluttony.

We are neglecting a torrent of market failures in infrastructure, finance, and the environment. We are turning our backs on a grotesque worsening of income inequality and willfully continuing to slash social benefits. We are destroying the Earth as if we are indeed the last generation."

Jeffrey Sachs

"Over the last thirty years, the United States has been taken over by an amoral financial oligarchy, and the American dream of opportunity, education, and upward mobility is now largely confined to the top few percent of the population. Federal policy is increasingly dictated by the wealthy, by the financial sector, and by powerful (though sometimes badly mismanaged) industries such as telecommunications, health care, automobiles, and energy. These policies are implemented and praised by these groups’ willing servants, namely the increasingly bought-and-paid-for leadership of America’s political parties, academia, and lobbying industry.

If allowed to continue, this process will turn the United States into a declining, unfair society with an impoverished, angry, uneducated population under the control of a small, ultra-wealthy elite. Such a society would be not only immoral but also eventually unstable, dangerously ripe for religious and political extremism."

Charles Ferguson

“There are two visions of America a half century from now. One is of a society more divided between the haves and the have-nots, a country in which the rich live in gated communities, send their children to expensive schools, and have access to first-rate medical care. Meanwhile, the rest live in a world marked by insecurity, at best mediocre education, and in effect rationed health care―they hope and pray they don't get seriously sick.

At the bottom are millions of young people alienated and without hope. I have seen that picture in many developing countries; economists have given it a name, a dual economy, two societies living side by side, but hardly knowing each other, hardly imagining what life is like for the other.

Whether we will fall to the depths of some countries, where the gates grow higher and the societies split farther and farther apart, I do not know. It is, however, the nightmare towards which we are slowly marching.”

Joseph E. Stiglitz, The Price of Inequality

"Psychopaths have a grandiose self-structure which demands a scornful and detached devaluation of others, in order to ward off their envy toward the good perceived in other people."

Robert D. Hare, Without Conscience

"The worldly treasures you have hoarded will testify against you on the day of judgment.  Listen! Hear the miseries of the workers whom you have cheated through fraud from fair payment."

James 5:4

"Two-thirds of the directors at the New York Fed are hand-picked by the same bankers that the Fed is in charge of regulating.

Today, the United States is No. 1 in corporate profits, No. 1 in CEO salaries, No. 1 in childhood poverty, and No. 1 in income and wealth inequality in the industrialized world.

Today, the top one-tenth of 1% owns nearly as much wealth as the bottom 90%. The economic game is rigged, and this level of inequality is unsustainable.

We need an economy that works for all, not just the powerful.

I think what the American people are saying is enough is enough. This country, this great country, belongs to all of us. It cannot continue to be controlled by a handful of billionaires who apparently want it all."

Bernie Sanders