Archive for September 6th, 2011

Rich and Poor

The New York Times has an excellent graphic showing alarming statistics:

This should be noted by everyone.   Most important points:

Productivity 1949 – 79 Up 117%, productivity 1979-2009 up 80%
Average hourly compensation 1949-79 Up 100%, average hourly compensation 1979-2009 Up 8%
Average hour wage 1949 – 79 Up 72%, average hourly wage 1979-2009 up 7%

(note compensation takes into account benefits)


Bottom Fifth – 122%
Second Fifth – 101%
Third Fifth – 113%
Fourth Fifth – 115%
Top Fifth – 99%

INCOME GAINS 1979 – 2009

Bottom Fifth –  -4%
Second Fifth – + 7%
Third Fifth – +15%
Fourth Fifth – + 25%
Top Fifth –  + 55%

Debt as a percentage of household wealth leveled off under 70% before taking off in the 1980s and is now at 120%.  To earn a decent household income 47% of households had two incomes in 1975, while 71% do now.

The share of the wealth owned by the TOP 1% reached a high of 23.9% in 1928.  Even during the days of the robber barons in the 1890s and on it was under 20%.   Then it started to decline, and in 1976 reached a low of only 8.9%.   Since then it has climbed steadily higher, at 23.5%.   The average income of the top one percent is $713,000.

This statistics make an overwhelming and compelling case that the the last three decades have seen the very wealthy get more of the pie, while workers and the middle class get much less — and have to often add another income to keep up.

There is no way one can look at this evidence and say that the price of getting us out of debt should just come from government programs that help the poor and middle class.  The wealthy can definitely afford to pay a bit more; they’ve been making out big time the last thirty years.