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Frightening Charts From the Senate Inequality Hearing

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Posted on Feb 11, 2012
loungerie (CC-BY)

As if there were any doubt, a two-hour Senate Budget Committee hearing on Thursday reported some alarming trends in income inequality, Mother Jones reported.

Among the realities shown were the 2010 CEO-to-worker pay ratio of 325 to 1; the steep rise of the 1 percent’s share in the national income over recent decades; and the declining tax rate on America’s top earners since the early 1960s.

Mother Jones published another series of inequality charts in April, showing, among other things, that the mega-rich have taken the lion’s share of wealth produced over the last three decades while the income and wages of American workers who were boosting productivity stood still. One of the most striking facts was this: “If the median household income had kept pace with the economy since 1970, it would now be nearly $92,000, not $50,000.” —ARK

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moonraven's avatar

By moonraven, February 15, 2012 at 1:48 pm Link to this comment

Lafayette:

Did you really not understand my post or are you deliberately being obtuse?

The Gini has its limitations, but it’s an obvious starting point when talking about inequality in the distribution of wealth in a country—and it’s very useful for cutting through the bullshit being slathered on by defensive governments (such as those of the US and Mexico, which have the same shameful Ginis and with which I am very familiar).

My comment in regard to Europe, which you chose to misunderstand, is based on the fact that I have recently spent time in Greece and Portugal.  Being a RETIRED “brainy university professor” whose commitment to social justice goes beyond creating and playing with scales, so long as I can scrape up the money do manage it, I will continue to observe at close range countries whose governments have chosen savage capitalism over social justice.

As an indigenous person I find your snide crack about reverse bigotry to be conspicuously mean-spirited and way out of line.

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By Lafayette, February 14, 2012 at 11:18 pm Link to this comment

NOPE

mr: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gini_since_WWII.svg

Nope. Depends upon how you look at it. From WikiP.

The scale is 0 to 100, this latter meaning that 100% of all income in a nation is possessed by just one class or individual. Meaning the economic system is the most autocratic.

mr: it would make more sense to just wait 15 minutes for most of them to catch up.

Nope. The Gini is most influenced by taxation policy. Not “catch up”.

It is literally “take from the rich and spend upon the poor”, the ethic of redistribution coming from a Moral Value articulated further below in this post - and dating back to the French Revolution or thereabouts.

The country that should be targeted by the US for eqauality with its GIni—instead of being targeted by the US for invasion for its resources—is Venezuela.

Nope. The EU is most demographically and economically comparative to the US, not Venezuela

Why is it SOOOOOOOOOOOOO hard for you white folks to admit that non-whites just might have a better way to do things?

Nice bit of reverse bigotry. Good try.

About Social Justice

More Social Justice has been implemented into economic and social policy here in Europe than elsewhere.

I am waiting for the Social Justice Index to be published WikiP by some brainy University Professor. So, the fact that I work and observe here in Europe will just have to do for the moment.

That and the fact that, in progressive terms, the Gini Coefficient is a good starting point for debate.

From WikiP:(here):

The French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789:
  A common contribution is essential for the maintenance of the public forces and for the cost of administration. This should be equitably distributed among all the citizens in proportion to their means.

How one interprets the above matters most in policy decision making. Which then largely reduces to the “Guns or Butter?” debate.

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By moonraven, February 13, 2012 at 12:16 pm Link to this comment

There seems to be somne confusion regarding the Gini coefficient.

1.  It’s a 1 to 10 scale.

2.  Considering that the US financial disaster has spread to Europe—rather like the smallpox that decimated the indigenous population of this hemisphere and which came FROM Europe—the poster who indicated that the goal would be to reduce the Gini of the US to that of European countries, it would make more sense to just wait 15 minutes for most of them to catch up.

3.  The country that should be targeted by the US for eqauality with its GIni—instead of being targeted by the US for invasion for its resources—is Venezuela.

Why is it SOOOOOOOOOOOOO hard for you white folks to admit that non-whites just might have a better way to do things?  Look where your White Is Right and White Prideslogans have put you.

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By race_to_the_bottom, February 13, 2012 at 10:04 am Link to this comment

“If the median household income had kept pace with the economy since 1970, it would now be nearly $92,000, not $50,000.”

The flawed math and the reasoning of this statement come from here: http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/06/speedup-americans-working-harder-charts

First, it confuses wages with household income, failing to account for the increase in two income households.

Second, it accepts that real wages have grown slightly since 1979. They have not; because the data is based on a CPI which grossly understates the real inflation rate: http://www.shadowstats.com/alternate_data/inflation-charts. In real terms, real wages have been cut in half. Roughly.

Third, it assumes that labor should, at best, receive no more than a fixed percentage of productivity gains. Why should this be? Why not more? Suppose a worker is paid $100 for producing $500 in added value, thereby creating a surplus of $400. Now new machinery is installed and every other worker is fired and each remaining worker is now producing $1,000 in value.Or maybe there is no new machinery, just speedup and forced overtime.  Now the surplus is $900. This is what has actually happened in manufacturing, except in most plants, the reduction in employment is much higher. Meanwhile, real fixed costs have barely changed, if you don’t account for the distribution of the booty to the parasitical FIRE sector. So is it just to demand that wages only go to $200? No! It is not. Furthermore, what happened to the people who were fired. Who supports them? They no longer produce anything. They are in the low paid “service” economy.

Finally, progressives really should stop talking about CEO pay. Yes, it is obscene, but it is really only a very small part of the social product which has been stolen from the working class over the past decades. CEOs work for stockholders and bondholders. THEY receive the surplus value that workers produce. THEY pay CEOs well because they do a very good job of plundering the workers in their behalf. All the talk about CEOs a red herring. It provides a cover for the liberals who will not identify the real enemy, the finance capitalist class which owns the lions share of the financial assets. The fundamental reality of class has no place in political discussions in polite society in the US.

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By Lafayette, February 13, 2012 at 1:30 am Link to this comment

GINI IN A BOTTLE

The Gini Coefficient (which measures Income Disparity in a country) is tracked for major countries post-war in this info-graphic here.

The highest value of 100 means that all income in a country belongs to just one person. Oppositely, the value of 1 means that all income earners have exactly the same income.

As the Gini Coefficient rises, Income Disparity does as well. Note that the US shares the place above 40 with only for other countries - China, Mexico and Brazil. 

Great company we have, right? All prime examples of human rights and democratic values, right?

Income Disparity, in research by Pickety & Saez that went back to the first hard data that can be obtained at the start of our national Income Tax declarations in 1913, were able to prove that Income Inequality dates from at least those times.

Note also in the info-graphic linked above, that our Gini Coefficient has been fairly steady since WW2. It began its inflexion upwards in 1980. Who entered the Oval Office in 1980? Reckless Ronnie Reagan.

It is easy to think further back into the origins of our history as a nation to sense that Income Disparity probably existed from the inception of the country - when it may have been even worse.


Income Disparity certainly was given a boost by the advent of Industrialization in the late 1800s, which brought people in from the farmlands to work in factories - increasing their incomes but greatly enhancing the fortunes of the Robber Barons. (Aka, today, the One-Percenters.)

Various efforts by the working class for decent wages were crushed by the corporate bosses of that time. Our history is sadly dotted with such efforts, some of which sometimes entailed numerous deaths. And yet, the labor movement became relatively a tame lamb in the 20th and now the 21st century.

We, the sheeple, are being shorn. Without our labor there is NO creation of economic value. Without higher taxation of that economic value, which trickles up to the top, then there will be no alternation in the Income Disparity of that is a hallmark of America.

Without the use of this increased tax revenue to enhance Public Services such as a National Health Care System and free Education to a Postsecondary level for all, then we will bounce from boom to bust to boom to bust ... on and on and on.

If we, as a nation, are to come to the same level of Europe in terms of the Gini Index, ours must lose 10/15 points. That cannot be done overnight. But neither are we anywhere near setting out to achieve that objective with a Congress 47% of which is composed of millionaires.

That class, as is already obvious, is not about to raise taxes to correct Economic Unfairness in this nation. They are our fat cats, clever and happy with the status quo … and intend it to remain that way.

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By Coreupt, February 13, 2012 at 1:16 am Link to this comment

Baromney Obamitt 2012!!

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prisnersdilema's avatar

By prisnersdilema, February 12, 2012 at 8:01 pm Link to this comment

Yes, spoken like a true idealogue…

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, February 12, 2012 at 7:52 pm Link to this comment

The nudity of my avatar beckons unvarnished truth! prisnerdilema. 
I do not denigrate anyone.  You apparently feel the sting of your
own hubris.

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prisnersdilema's avatar

By prisnersdilema, February 12, 2012 at 7:30 pm Link to this comment

First of all Shenomie, put some clothes on…..

You always denigrate, as a last resort…Idieology appeals to you because you are an
idealist, unconcerned with the practical reality of people.

No doubt safe and secure in your ivory tower, unblemished, and untouched but
enamored of theory that is unfalsifiable.

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, February 12, 2012 at 5:18 pm Link to this comment

bulkie, your faults are not imagined by me.  They are imagined not
to exist by you!  Take a trip on the google search I provided to find
more differences.  You too prisnersdilema.  You two can frolic around
together if you want to, I find it inane and a fool’s game.

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By balkas, February 12, 2012 at 5:04 pm Link to this comment

shenon, dearheart,
you affirm: “there is an absolute difference between the two parties”.
however, you once again omit to name main issues on which the two parties disagree.
instead, you go on and aver that conservatives legislate for individual wealth [as if declaration of independence does
not have a thing to do with that?] [and] dogmatic antithetical issues about women’s rights, health insurance [why not
healthcare as a right?]. so, where is this right for women?
once again, name a women’s right—or better yet, some or many major ones that politicos deny or allow them.
and also name each politician who denies a woman a specific right! 

i think that you deliberately avoid to enumerate these rights and deliberately choose to overgeneralize just like most
politicians do. for your enlightenment, right-wrong or true-false answer do not apply to [over]generalization.
when you say that politicians legislate women’s issues in a dogmatic way, you are not saying anything educational.
girl, you need to come off that proverbial high ladder and set foot on earth if you want to protect women or anyone
else.
look shannon, the root cause for lack of women’s or people’s rights is the constitution, bill of rights and not
conservatives. conservatives are not violating US ‘laws’ or bill of rights and what have you.
and please stop dwelling on a person’s real or imagined faults! thanks

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By prisnersdilema, February 12, 2012 at 5:02 pm Link to this comment

Yes there are idealogical difference between the Republican and Democratic
parties. But this ideological difference really only amounts to a political disguise.

A way to conceal their actions, when in fact those political actions betray the
ideological beliefs they purport to hold.

Yes, in theory, the Democrats believe in women’s rights, and in theory they believe
in a progressive agenda, but in point of fact they don’t support progressive
programs, but instead the globalist corporate agenda. In theory, they support
health care reform, but in fact, health care reform was a gift to the health care
corporations. One that supports a criminal system, that kills and poisons millions
of Americans, through medical mistakes, unsafe medications, drug over dose via
prescription medications, and the suppression of cures. In corporate controlled
industries it is the same. From agriculture to the banks.  And Democrats benefit
financially from those corporations.

The same is true of Conservatives, in theory, they are for small government, in
theory they are for conservative financial practices, yet George W. Bush, W’s,
profligate spending flushed this country down the toilet financially.

Yes our political parties, in theory, are for America, and for the people of this
country, yet they have allowed it to be gutted with millions of jobs going over
seas, endless wars that benefit the corporations, and millions homeless, and
having a hard time holding on. Very little if anything will be done about it.

Because the owners of this country don’t want that. Building a third party will take
time. But hoping that either party will do something, besides cosmetic changes
will take forever. It’s not going to happen.

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By Shenonymous, February 12, 2012 at 3:31 pm Link to this comment

balkas, it is obvious you have a problem writing as it is incompre-
hendable in places, so possibly you have a problem with reading as
well.  If you read carefully you would see that I said, “There is an
absolute difference between the two major parties.  One ?specifically
legislates for conservative ideals of individual wealth, dogmatic
antithetical social issues about women’s rights, health ?insurance,
social security, etc., and power, the other, the liberal principles for
power is centered in the people and what they perceive to be the
best government for themselves. 

If that is not ample enough for you, take any major Democratic
political legislative action, put an anti- in front of it and that would
be the typical Republican political plan.  In spite of some Democratic
legislation that has passed, a significant number has been stonewalled
by the Republicans. Thus differences are repeatedly verified. The
Democrats have entertained compromises, whereas the current
conservative Republicans have not.  Even where taxes is the topic that
would significantly solve many of the fiscal problems, there is a divide
between the two parties.  Republicans are frozen in their position to
not allow the tax benefit for the rich to sunset where Democrats would
allow it.  If you are further interested, I suggest you google “The
ideological differences between Democrats and Republicans.”  To help
you out, click here.

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By balkas, February 12, 2012 at 2:33 pm Link to this comment

shenon,
when entering the arena of differences between Democrats and Republicans, one shld list at least some of their differences [absolute differences?
what’s the “absolute”  doing there in your post?] that make a difference in all american lives: women, children, soldiers, retired, et al.
but if one is going to study any differences between the two parties, name the most important aspects of daily living in which they differ.
while talking about differences, one must find the differences between any of two Democrats or any two Republicans.

i don’t expect that any person would also deny [and with whatever fervor] that there is no single difference among any two Democrats or any two
Republicans without first doing a serious study of what each senator or congressperson had done or said.
such study may take years before one could accurately determine how/why/when/where, say, kucinich, differs from say, kerry, biden, lieberman and
how/why/when/where lieberman differs from gingrich, perry paul, et al.

but even so, how would a scientist be sure that a given politico is not lying to him/her; and in view of the fact that they ALL lie or find a perfect
explanation for everything they say or do!

do we know of one US politico who condemns, say, war against iraq on a principle? i haven’t come across even one congressperson who had done
that. it is always the same litany or crocodile tears: wars cost too much, they’ll destroy or weaken america, bush/obama lied, wars are mistakes, etc.
how about free education, healthcare for all? know one who speaks of these very valuable rights as people’s rightful inheritance; that is, mentions the
unmentionable: a principle for denying or allowing people to obtain socalled free healthcare and education? thanks

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moonraven's avatar

By moonraven, February 12, 2012 at 11:56 am Link to this comment

The US has the same Gini as that of Mexico—now just over 5.00.

Venezuela’s is now less than 4.00—and that change came about since 1999—when it was, yes, just over 5.00.

In thirteen years a responsible leader has made Venezuela one of the least unequal countries on the planet,

and irresponsible leaders and irresponsible sheep who voted for them, have turned the US into one of the lowest rungers of the Third World.

Congrats!

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, February 12, 2012 at 11:16 am Link to this comment

Fact:  All politicians are wealthy.  Politico reported November 2009
that 237 members of Congress are millionaires (44%) with Republican
Darrell Issa as the richest, with $251 million.  For more specifics see
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1109/29235.html
We can see why he is always Republican-interested in wiping out
taxes on the rich.  Next are Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), worth about
$214.5 million; Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), worth about $209.7 million;
and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), worth about $208.8 million.  ABC News
reported Dec. 27, 2011, that the median net worth of members of
Congress is about $913,000, compared with about $100,000 for
the country at large.

There is an absolute difference between the two major parties.  One
specifically legislates for conservative ideals of individual wealth,
dogmatic antithetical social issues about women’s rights, health
insurance, social security, etc., and power, the other, the liberal
principles for power is centered in the people and what they perceive to
be the best government for themselves.  If you can’t see that then you
are not conscious of the political theater.  Politics in this country is a
competitive activity that often becomes a fierce struggle, having become
more strenuous in the last 30 or so years. Since money comes into
politics, some liberals have betrayed their first principles to represent
the people.  Not all, have however. As Layfayette articulates best, it is the
people’s responsibility to watch and change their politicians when they
do not do the job they were sent to do.  But because the voting
population does not always know the currents that are acting in their
own benefit by their agents of legislation, it is unfair to blame them
completely.  It is the power of money that keeps the public ignorant
through lying advertisement and slanted news reporting.  It then
becomes incumbent on those who are conscious to inform the voting
population of the reality, with proof, of their situation.

There is no language in the U.S. Constitution that creates or even
mentions the creation of political parties.

You can read the Constitution here:  U.S. Constitution
http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/constitution.overview.html

But there is something that does perpetuate the two-party system. 
The answer to that is the Electoral College.  This institution makes it
very difficult for a third party to win a presidential election.  And it
makes it possible to win without earning a majority of the popular
votes as we saw in Bush vs. Gore (with the help from SCOTUS).

Article 2, section 3 of the Constitution demands that the president
receive an absolute majority in the Electoral College in order to take
office. In the event that no candidate achieves a majority, the election
is decided in the House of Representatives.  Similarly, the Electoral
College has the effect of discouraging third-party votes within individual
states.  For instance, if one lives in California, and the state’s electoral
votes are going to go for a Republican or Democrat, no matter what, it
might appear as something of a waste to vote Libertarian or Green or
whatever.  Even if one of those minor parties were to get 10% of the
vote nationwide, it would probably end up with no electoral votes.  Third
parties force the two major parties to refine and define their election
promises,

You can read more on the Electoral College
http://www.ksg.harvard.edu/case/3pt/electoral.html  and about the
Electoral College: the cornerstone of two-party monopoly
http://tinyurl.com/7zlcp8y

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By balkas, February 12, 2012 at 11:15 am Link to this comment

there is one declaration of independence and not two. it ensure that econo-military-political power descends [trickles] down from top guns;
such as the protestant ‘religion’ [until very recently], one ethnos, and the richest ‘americans’ to least favored ‘religions’, ethnoses, races,
undesirable/poor people.
and there is no such thing as democratic and republican pursuance of happiness.
this is an inalienable right; and in practice or daily living, trumps all other rights that US constitution, bill of rights, ‘laws’, ‘guarantees’ to
‘americans’.
so, when bush, obama or any prez orders US army to wage wars, they are pursuing plutocratic/cultic right to pursue own happiness. and every
‘american’ [means both much delusional and less-valued american] has this right. so what if you do not pursue own happiness?
yes, so, what about it? what’s the matter with you, you dumb, lazy ass! wake up! get your own jesus! go after own dreams, etc.
now, don’t tell me you can refute that logic!!

and guess who decides what action, ‘law’  represents the pursuance of happiness? but, of course, the bill of rights, US ‘laws’ [actually ukases,
fiats, diktats by the nobility], and the constitution.
in short, a diktat [‘law’] is forever defended and declared legal by another diktat.

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By felicity, February 12, 2012 at 11:13 am Link to this comment

I have a neighbor (about two weeks out of the year as
the house is one of five others they own) who has a
salary of $23 million/year.  His poor wife, according
to her, spends the year moving into/moving out of
houses, not to mention the time and tedium of having
to transport herself and hubby from pillar-to-post
and back again.

Honestly, how much does this life-style contribute to
the overall economy of this country of ours.  Not
much. Seventy-percent of our economy is based on
consumers - not a few of them, but millions of them.
‘Starve’ the consumer - ‘starve’ the economy.

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By prisnersdilema, February 12, 2012 at 7:56 am Link to this comment

The Democrat Republican dichotomy is a false one. It doesn’t really make much
difference who has more money. Who has more millionaires in congress.

Its just another way of dividing and conquering the people. Just as both parties
have tried and true issues, that they use to attract voters, those issues are are just
part and parcel of the well rehearsed and long running political soap opera.

The Democrats use equal rights, and supposedly a progressive agenda, the
Republicans have taxes and abortion.  Even if these issues were completely
resolved to the satisfaction of every single American, it would change nothing in
terms of what is happening to this country economically.

Both political parties have signed off on military aggression toward Iran, though
Iran has not attacked us militarily. Unlike North Korea, who possesses nuclear
weapons and a means of delivery of those weapons to the west coast, Iran poses
next to no military threat to this country. The political apparatus is willing to do
anything, anything, including killing American Citizens, to create a justification for
War against Iran. 

Both parties support a lethal corporate agenda that is destroying the lives, and
economic futures of all Americans. Our military aggression is but an extension of
that lethality. The poisoning of peoples minds, through endless streams of
corporate propaganda, the poisoning of the food, water, pharmaceuticals, medical
care, and financial instruments, including the attack on the bill of rights, has all
been orchestrated, by Corporate Criminals who control the political system. 

What has happened to this country is not an accident. It is a direct result of
political measures created by our political system, of crimes that were also abetted
by our political class, at the direction of corporate criminals.

Yes, there has been a shocking redistribution of wealth in this country, one that
was caused by a shocking redistribution of political power into the hands of
corporate criminals,  that profit by the continued destruction of the people and the
infrastructure of this country.

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By Lafayette, February 12, 2012 at 7:43 am Link to this comment

pd: And then the story will disapear, and nothing will be changed

So, change Congress.

It’s possible. But we must put our collective will to it.

What will not matter one iota, that which will change absolutely nothing in LaLaLand on the Potomac is ... bitching-in-a-blog.

Count on it.

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By IMax, February 12, 2012 at 7:09 am Link to this comment

Shenon,

You are obviously no idiot.  But you do stymie me with your continued insistence on the unrealistic narratives you tout.  What has happened to you?  How did you first come to closing your eyes to the world all about you?

There are more millionaire democrats in congress than there are republican.  The twenty wealthiest U.S. congressional districts are democratic strongholds.  Fourteen of the twenty wealthiest individuals in the United States are registered democrats.  Candidate Obama took in more Wall Street money that did John McCain by a ratio of 3-1.

Widen your view, girl.  Our party is the party which most directly represents the 1%.  Everything else is the campaign rhetoric you’ve swallowed whole.

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By doublestandards/glasshouses, February 12, 2012 at 6:45 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

No time to lose, we’ve got to cut social security and medicare and give the 1% another tax cut.  This is obviously the only solution.  A ban on labor unions wouldn’t hurt either.  One other thing - don’t read Morris Berman and don’t watch that video in the A/V Booth.

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By Roger Lafontaine, February 12, 2012 at 6:04 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Transglobalcapitalism: In third world countries, it’s worse than slavery. In the US and Europe it’s worse than poverty. In the entire world all life systems are dying. Communism failed and capitalism is thriving (us all to death). Why do we go on? Ideology drives us forward. God is back, but it’s the same G-d that died centuries ago. Jesus came but we still live by ‘an eye for an eye’. The dead past is our shield and our blinder. We cling to $$$$$ even though it serves only the few and impoverishes the many and wrecks our planet. Answers? Solutions? Are there any? I think so. Check out Zeigeist.org or even Shareintl.org. Open your mind.

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By Shenonymous, February 12, 2012 at 5:49 am Link to this comment

Oh yeah…and vote Republican if you like this trend.

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By do over, February 11, 2012 at 10:49 pm Link to this comment

Please stop pretending that Congress is not aware of this reality.  Congress is corrupt and likely sociopathic in membership.  Only a fool would attempt to reason with a sociopath. So stop the charade.

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By prisnersdilema, February 11, 2012 at 10:31 pm Link to this comment

Yes, i am sure the senate will study the matter carefully. They may even express the
appropriate concerns on one of the Sunday morning news shows.

And then the story will disapear, and nothing will be changed, and they the senate
members will go back to their riches, free from financial worry.

While the people will carry on with thier buisness of misery, of attmepting to surive, to
try and keep their loved ones alive a little while longer.

With the senate’s recent approval of 30 thoussand drones, they should be able to
witness the struggle of life in this country easily, and first hand.

The one percenters have destroyed this country, as a kind of sport, a kind of scientific
experiment, and in any experiment their are animals that need an autopsy. Think of the
Mother Jones article as an economic autopsy of this country.

From hard work for a chance to get ahead, to even harder work under slavery. Thats the
new american way.

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By SharonMI, February 11, 2012 at 5:36 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

How many of the new jobs being created pay $50,000?

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By peggy thomas, February 11, 2012 at 5:08 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

And that median income in 1970 was mostly earned by one person, not the two it takes now.

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