Category Archives: 99%

The Rapidly Growing Wealth Gap

The wealthiest Americans now have 288 times the net worth of a typical family. Not only that, but the wealth gap between the richest Americans and the typical family more than doubled over the past 50 years.

Here it is in one nice chart, from the Economic Policy Institute via Occupy America | Crooks & Liars:

If you prefer it in words,

The median household saw its net worth drop to $57,000 in 2010, down from $73,000 in 1983. It would have been $119,000 had wealth grown equally across households.

The top 1%, on the other hand, saw their average wealth grow to $16.4 million, up from $9.6 million in 1983.

Posted in 99%, Econ & Money | Leave a comment

OWS and the National Conversation

Robert Paul Wolff, now a Grand Old Man, reflects on Occupy Wall Street,

… the Occupy Wall Street Movement has already won, since it has utterly changed the public conversation in America. The brilliant polemical device of defining the fundamtnal issue as a struggle between the 1% and the 99% — a definition that cannot, of course, withstand any sort of serious political and economic analysis — has thrust into the public space the issue of income and wealth inequality and the consequent power inequality. Precisely because the roots of this inequality lie so deeply embedded in the structure of capitalism, no laundry list of manageable reforms can address it. The refusal of the OWS movement to formulate such a list is strategically brilliant, and infuriating to those in Washington who would just like to know "what they want" so that a palliative deal can be struck.

The success of the movement is astonishing when one reflects on how small it is. I may be way off, but it seems to me that nation-wide there cannot have been many more than forty or fifty thousand active OWS participants. Now, this is a nation of roughly 330,000,000, so the movement has involved maybe fifteen one thousandths of one percent of the population. Any Sunday pro football game is probably watched by twice that many people in the stands.

Myself, I don’t think OWS has yet won quite as much as this suggests. OWS has moved the Overton window, but I think our national conversation on wealth and inequality is still not back to where it was in, say, the Great Society days. As of yet, there’s no sign taxes will regain the progressivity they had under Nixon or Reagan, not to mention Eisenhower.

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Ultimate Mitt Romney Hit Video

When Mitt Romney Came To Town — Full, complete version

The amazing thing about this 28-minute-long Occupy Wall Street-style hit piece is who made it: Newt Gingrich’s Super PAC.

Barney Frank was widely quoted when he said, “I never thought I’d live such a good life that I would see Newt Gingrich be the nominee of the Republican party.” Turns out even if you lived only a sort of good life, Newt is just great as a spoiler.

Posted in 2012 Election, 99% | 2 Comments

A Modest Proposal (Drug Tests Edition)

Perhaps it is time to subject investment bankers and derivatives traders to routine random drug tests. It’s widely believed that many of them use cocaine (although meth use may be rising), and I read that drug use on Wall Street is a real problem, although of course it has also beem rampant for a long time. The health of the economy is too important to be left in the hands of potentially drug-addled brains.

After all if it’s necessary to drug test welfare applicants and unemployed people seeking job training (who have the same 2% positive rate as found on Wall St) and high school football players, it is all the more important to drug test the masters of finance given the enormous effect that their work has on others.

Or, perhaps, we should agree to only drug test people armed with weapons or holding security clearances?

Posted in 99%, Econ & Money: Mortgage Mess, Science/Medicine | 5 Comments

The Strangely Affirming ‘Film the Police’

There is something oddly affirming about this rap video ‘Film the Police’. (Warning: cruelty and bad words you probably don’t want your toddler learning.)

I am not usually a big fan of rap; although I’ve heard a few very striking and wonderful rap pieces, on the whole my liking for rap tends to be one notch above ‘take it or leave it': I’ll take it if there’s nothing else on.

Why then do I say a rap video about police brutality is affirming? For one thing, I am cheered that this piece of resistance starts with a judicial trope. The counter-culture assuming the judicial robe is older than I am (and even I just barely recall here come da judge), but it is still cheerful to see it continued, or revived. There’s still some deep resonance about the idea that the rule of law might be something that can be appropriated and turned on the powers that be.

Even more affirming is the central assumption: publicizing state-sponsored violence can end it. And it might be true.

Posted in 99%, Law: Criminal Law, Question Authority | 1 Comment

Annals of Wealth Distribution

Just 6 Walmart heirs have as much wealth as 30% of Americans.

That works out to about six people having the wealth of 90 million people in the US.

Posted in 99%, Econ & Money | 3 Comments

Nicely Updated

The law, in its majesty, bars the individual and the corporation alike from camping out while assembling for redress of grievances.

The law, in its majesty, allows the individual and the corporation alike to spend money on political ads.

Unqualified offerings

Posted in 99% | 1 Comment