Raising the Floor by Andy Stern

book jacketRaising the Floor: How a Universal Basic Income can Renew Our Economy and Rebuild the American Dream by Andy Stern (2016)

This is a good book. I am buying this book. I do not agree with everything he says in the book, but the writing is clear and broad in scope. I was reminded of something I knew, that Alaska changed their state constitution to provide a basic income to all resident citizens from the money oil leases and such brought into the state by putting all that money into a dedicated fund to share the wealth. And a Republican governor did it.

I have some doubts about the purported takeover of technology for jobs, but that is probably a prejudice or failure of imagination on my part due to my lack of education and experience (pre-females being allowed to take shop in public schools). It is like watching magic to see a video of the automation that puts car parts together, or the mind blowing details of how the new Bay Bridge was built. Or when I saw the giant machine used to drill out the tunnel under the English channel. For that matter, every day I took the New York subway, especially though the tunnel under the water from Queens or when I drove through the Holland Tunnel and did not drown, well, it just doesn’t seem possible that mere mortals could figure out how to make tools and how to use them to accomplish such feats.

We have people who cannot make change correctly so cash register machines had to be modified to contain a function that simply told workers what the correct change should be. Icons are used instead of words, although I have to say, from a user interface point of view, this actually is a good thing on many levels: multilingual, faster, and more accurate. Translating the abstract concept of FRIES by having a little graphic of french fries in the container eliminates a lot of cross-brain work translating the letter symbols into a word and then punching a value of numbers in the register.

Trust is the number one criteria for people to accept a lot of the mechanization and technology. As a grocery shopped, you select a product based on a posted sign for a particular price. When the item is scanned at the register, can you remember the price of all the items selected to ascertain if the automated system actually priced it as the sale take listed or maybe it added a penny or a dime. Who actually watches the $$ values that are being rung up and are confident enough in their recollection to contest a price? Peer pressure of people standing in line waiting for you, the inability of the register clerk to know anything beyond what the computer tells her is right, having to call a manager over to assess the situation and go back to the shelves to check the sign, all to save 2 cents on a $2.00 purchase. Not a scenario to encourage questioning the accuracy of the technology. Even self-serve registers have this problem, or worse, because you have to do the scanning yourself while watching accuracy and then do the bagging too, again with people standing there impatiently waiting while you try to figure out why your credit card swipe is demanding a pin number you don’t have and it just seems wrong to push the red cancel button to continue.

We certainly don’t need an expensive college education if our future jobs will be watching machines work.

Most new jobs created in today’s economy are concentrated in the RETAIL, FOOD SERVICE, and HOME HEALTHCARE sectors, which rarely include BENEFITS, and often leave workers scrounging to pay the bills and without a clear path to the middle class. To make matters worse, a 2010 report from the US Department of Commerce found it is harder to maintain a middle-class lifestyle than ever before as prices for critical goods such as HEALTHCARE, college, and HOUSING outpace INCOME GROWTH, leaving families to turn to debt financing and other stopgap measures to hang on.

Part of this trend of low-wage work is a result of the shift from manufacturing to service. . . . Median pay for the more than 15 million retail workers is less than $20,000 a year ($9.60 an hour), and for the 3.4 million fast-food workers it is only $8.80 an hour. Today’s JOB RICH companies offer POVERTY-LEVEL WAGES. As noted in a New York Times expose, even the “high-skilled” Genius Bar techies at Apple make on average just $11.25 an hour despite selling on average $472,000 of good per employee per year. “You go into an Apple store and you see the future,” says Jeff Faux, founder of the Economic Policy Institute. “The future of the labor force is all in those smart college-educated people with the T-shirts whose job it is to be a retail clerk.”

Another part of this trend toward low-wage work has been our failure to keep the MINIMUM WAGE pegged to INFLATION. The falling value of the minimum-wage salary has left families, who are supported by individuals on a minimum-wage salary, well below the poverty line. (p. 37)

He doesn’t say it, but surely those computer geeks with the college education that serve to sell that much gear deserve more than minimum wage. Their own brains, education, and experience has made it possible for them to do the job rather than some 18-year old who just pushes a cash register button. But because there are FEW OTHER OPTIONS for college-educated computer geeks to get a “good” job, retail it is. This is pure exploitation. The companies should be paying for their expertise and savvy to creatively troubleshoot and provide the necessary depth of knowledge of available products to meet the buyers’ requirements. But they don’t have to, because the power is all on the corporate side and the trend (in addition to the decline of unions) is “if you want a job, this is want you get paid (minimum possible to maximize profits to CEOs and shareholders) and if you don’t like it, there are 20 or 30 more people out there willing to work for a non-living wage.”

Almost 8 MILLION WORKING AMERICANS live BELOW the poverty line despite collecting a steady paycheck. Wages, as a share of the country’s grow domestic product are at an ALL-TIME LOW. Since 2000, one place where the new economy has not discriminated is that [whatever education level you have] in EVERY CATEGORY average incomes have been FALLING. (p. 36)

Low pay, even with a steady paycheck, creates a boatload of concerns for workers, but lower-paid workers, those that make less than $35,000 a year, are among the most anxious of Americans Eighty-five [85] percent of lower-paid workers FEAR THAT THEY WON’T EVEN MEET EXPENSES, up from 60 percent in 1971. Almost half polled felt less secure financially than just a few years ago. (p. 36)

This is, of course, just the way the ruling class wants it. He states “there are forty-seven [47] MILLION Americans who live in poverty, including a firth of the nation’s children,” and the answer according to Jeb Bush and the Republican (and Democratic) party is “work harder.”

This completely ignores the fact that you can be stuck in poverty while working very hard, sometimes with two or more jobs. Life for wage earning workers is work until you die. Workers pay for the privilege of working by their time in commuting not being paid, their transportation not being covered or subsidized, the cost of parking costing them at least an hour of wages a day — or more. Gas tax is regressive since it penalizes those who have to live farther away to find affordable housing and coerce the payment in TIME via subsidized but not FREE public transit. Sales tax on clothes, diapers, tampons, shampoo, deodorant is just as regressive as tax on food. These are daily use necessities, not luxury goods. And they are overpriced for profiteering as well as discriminatorily priced by gender (women pay more).

The author does identify universal basic income (UBI) as income you receive whether or not you work (like Alaska $ stated at the start of this discussion). The beauty of this is that FOR THE FIRST TIME citizens would have actual ECONOMIC SECURITY instead of anxiety. Plus, this is the ONLY WAY that poorer people will ever be able to get ahead. If they have enough basic income to not have to work for shit wages at shitty jobs with shitty hours and no benefits, they won’t have to and employers will have to suck it up and pay living wages — or find a way for a machine to do the work.

Our current WORKFARE system penalizes all beneficiaries of the myth of the social “safety net” (not worth much and soon to be eliminated entirely). For example, our beloved budget-conscious legislators (except for all things military and corporate subsidies and tax breaks and CEO salaries and financial bonuses for financial traders pay or taxing capital gains and estates over $250,000) have decided that if the government provides funding from taxpayers dollars,  HOT LUNCHES FOR SCHOOL CHILDREN will make them DEPENDENT on the government and LESS WILLING to be wage slaves. There is now a two-year LIFETIME cap on unemployment benefits to motivate people to work at shit jobs for shitty pay for shitty hours. There is also a five-year LIFETIME cap on family assistance because NO DECENT PERSON would ever need more than that. To Republicans, there is no such thing as “deserving poor.”

Since “dependency” on government “hand outs” (aka benefits of citizenship from taxpayer paid money that theoretically is for the common good) is anathema to conservatives, they would rather that citizens should die before they “deserve” any benefit from income taxes paid. This includes, almost in particular, Social Security, which we all paid into under the social contract of it being there for our retirement at age 65 or 67 or 70 — the ever diminishing possibility that you can actually retire and live, albeit in poverty, without having to earn a wage, after your body has endured unnatural repetitive and crippling work experiences.

He is another of many authors I have read who cites the writings of Thomas Piketty (he was even mentioned in my Democratic Representative’s recent town hall as a book he had read (though it took awhile he admitted, long book).

The facts behind the [Occupy Wall Street] disgruntlement speak for themselves and were widely reported in the news media (p. 42):

  • The richest one percent tin the United Staes now own more wealth than the bottom 90 percent.
  • The wealthiest 160,000 families in the United States have a much wealth as the poorest 145 MILLION families.
  • The richest 85 people in the world own as much wealth as the bottom half [50%] of HUMANITY.
  • If you are born poor in America, you have a much greater chance of staying poor than if you were born into the same class in countries such as Canada or Denmark.

The ability of poor Americans to “pull themselves up by the bootstraps” or rugged individualism leads to success are both myths that were probably never actually true at all. Luck, who you know, where you live, how many siblings you have, how many parents and how long did they live, did parents own a house, do you live in urban or rural place, and countless factors that no individual, however rugged, has control over or can only change in limited ways (spend money to move to the city from a farm but then you cannot grow your own food). No matter how many times Republicans tell you “you can become a millionaire too” in America, it is not true, and their social safety net is increasingly limited and regulated with drug testing, micromanagement of what type of food you can buy with assistance funds, and elimination of benefits if you manage to make a few bucks over poverty, thus making sure you never get ahead.

Back to Piketty, the French “rock star” economist (p. 43):

Piketty’s theory rests on a formula he devised for measuring economic inequality: r > g. What do r and g mean? r is the rate of return on capital, which Piketty defines as real estate, stock, and other financial assets; g is the rate of growth in the economy. There are two basic types of income: income produced by capital, which tends to be concentrated in the hands of a small group of wealth people. And income from labor, which is disbursed broadly throughout the entire population. Wage growth is directly dependent on the growth of the economy. So when r > g, the earnings from capital [$$$] increase faster than wages. Hence, the people who own capital accumulate a higher proportion of the nation’s total income and inequality gets worse, as is happening in Europe, Japan, and the United States according to Piketty. The rate of growth of capital in these countries is rising at 4 to 5 percent, whereas their economies are growing at a rate of only t to 1.5 percent a year — a trend he sees as continuing well into the future.

Note too that returns from investing money are not considered “earned income” and that is why they get taxed at a different, lower rate, i.e. the capital gains tax rate. So you can sit around on your ass with so much money you have extra you can gamble with  by buying paper that says you now own a share in a company and this extra money of yours can earn 1,000 times as much just sitting there if the company discovers a cure for cancer for example.

For your “risk” you are rewarded with a lower tax rate of about 15% (after deductions of fees and costs of course). So if you get a return of $25,000 in one year, that gets taxed at 15% and the worker who earns that as a salary for a job that literally takes up 40+ hours of life PLUS commute and minus parking, clothing, food, rent and all the standard daily costs — health and car insurance, car payments, etc. etc. gets to pay a “fair share” of 28% or so (just using simple figures for demonstration, not going to get into standard deductions, earned income tax credits, or the floor and ceilings of Reagan on the deductibility of medical expenses).

People with excess wealth so high they can gamble it and never worry about not being able to afford food, or fear of losing their home, or not being able to afford health insurance premiums just sit back and let the money flow, further building their net worth. And for THIS they deserve a lower tax rate? Bullshit.

What would truly be economic and social justice would be for anyone earning less than $50,000 at income (wage based) work should pay NO TAXES. They simply cannot afford to pay any percentage into the general fund AND maintain economic security. One example I saw when did a fast check to get some numbers illustrated how that $50k even when reduced by some exemptions, rapidly declines as a net income by also having to pay state income tax, some places have a city income tax, then you have your payment for your Social Security insurance and Medicare insurance.

Plus you have the cost of all the medical expenses you have that cannot be deducted because of the floor/ceiling, your transportation cost, and parking to earn that income that is not tax deductible.Let’s just round a bit down from the adjusted after-tax income of $38,000 to a bit high leftover of $35,000. That gives about $2,917 monthly income per month.

Take it down by $1,000 for rent or mortgage plus utilities, leaving $1,917 for committed monthly expenses like a $300 car payment plus $65 car insurance, house insurance (or renters’) of $50 a month, health insurance premiums if not on Medicare, Medicare gap insurance if you are of at least $100 a month.

Then you have your credit card bills ($16,000!!! average American credit card debt) because no one but the rich have cash on hand to pay for unexpected expenses or high cost items. Plus compounded interest at usurious rates that used to be illegal, and miss a payment and they go up to 25% under the guise that you are now a poor risk when the extra $50 a month in interest they make simply makes it harder for people to make the minimum payments and making more and more profit for the credit card companies because you never ever catch up. Let’s call it $350 a month.

Interest rates are particularly heinous given that the lenders (banksters) are leveraging their cash from the Federal Reserve that they get for 1% or so, 30 to 1 and charging student loan interest at 10% for non-dischargeable sin bankruptcy student loan debt. The same link show the average student loan debt to be a grotesque $49,000 per household. Call it $200 for student loan debt payment.

Car debt considered to be $28,000 per household. Even if you don’t believe or don’t have similar debts yourself, people do have even more as well as less debt. We counted $300 for a car payment plus insurance of $65 a month earlier.

Unexpected expenses or maybe “extravagances” such as a nice TV (plus cable and internet), cell phone or landline, dental work (not covered by health insurance for some ridiculous reason) require some savings or more credit card debt. Let’s be unrealistic and save that people will save $100 a month for emergencies and unexpected expenses.

Examples include repair bills or replacements of water heater, dishwashers, or other appliances, laundry costs of time and money if you don’t have your own, oil changes, tire rotations, and other car maintenance. The list of possible expenditures seems to be never ending while the income you have to pay for these necessities is rarely enough. I am convinced that the rich outsource all their accounting and daily life tasks so they basically have no actual idea what wage earners’ expenses are before any luxury like a second car, a vacation, dinners out, or other special treats like a concert.

In addition to fixed expenses, there must be an allowance for “discretionary spending” on this like food, personal care, maybe pets. Call it $200.

A quick calculator left a balance of  over $500 to my surprise, but then again, I was only counting $ for one person. Add a child and childcare would push that $500 out the door mighty fast, plus all the other extra expenses, like clothes for a growing child. in fact I don’t think I included a clothing allowance in my rough estimates.

Basically $50,000 is not high living.

You may have heard the phrase “The Wagner Act” bandied about recently; bandied as in revoking the law. This would be one of the worst blows to the 99% possible because this is what lead to the creation of of the National Labor Relations Board becoming a vital part of the government agencies back in the day when it was believed that the government was there to serve the people and Congressional members were “public servants” and not politicians first, corporate puppets second, and people bent on destroying all that is democratic about our government.

This law was signed in 1935 as part of the response to the Great Depression, along with other protections the Republicans and Neoliberal “democrats” have been killing for decades to the point where all the people who knew what life was like with them in full force are dead.

It guaranteed the basic rights of private-sector employees to ORGANIZE INTO TRADE UNIONS, to engage in collective bargaining for better terms and conditions at work, and to take collective action including strike if necessary. The US economy prospered after World War II, and unions (backed by the DEMOCRATIC PARTY) developed tactics and policies that made it possible for working Americans to share in their company’s success and live the American Dream. (pp. 44-45)

One of the fascinating things that comes up when reading history is how many times the assumptions and socialization of people by those in power leads to flawed and failure to REALLY change the dialogue. For example, labor unions have fallen to record lows, in part because of corruption by those in perpetual authority as with any group, but also because the “trade union” work they did was winkled away by capitalists to increase profit by enslaving other impoverished people of the world. The trade unions will forever be damned for me in one particular way: they refused to admit women to the fields and when women typesetters (a part of my graphic art vocational work early days) were unionized and went on strike, the pressmen and other male unions refused to support them yet demanded the women support their labor actions.

This sole disloyal act proved to me early on that unions were not the true answer to the issues of labor versus profiteering businesses. The stories of favoritism and bullying and leg breaking and coercion of virtual mob boss thuggery by some labor leaders also did not serve the interests of labor any better than the backroom betrayers or the exporters themselves.

Unions never were any help to the “salaried” workers (I may have mentioned above) who were classified as salaried simply to be able to demand they work overtime with overtime pay. The actual rule stated salaried workers must have a supervisory capacity as well as I recall reading somewhere. But this was not necessarily something the worker when offered the salary was told and often was never assigned that role. The goal was to make them think they (me) were in a “higher” status job or something. It did have the advantage of providing pay on “snow days” where non-essential workers were told to stay home (Ohio). Unfortunately for hourly workers, if they don’t go to work they don’t have any recompense. But mainly the salaried worker remains exploited and the amount of salary by which you qualify for overtime was not pegged to anything so remains at, I think, the 1973 fixed figure of $25,000 a year. Close enough for horseshoes. In today’s dollars, in the bill recently defeated by the bastards in Congress, overtime would have been required for all workers earning less than $43,000 or $45,000. Wages and hours are fascinating to study and the simple brutality of work or die becomes very clear. Toss in a layer of religious dogma to polish the turd of wage slavery and proclaim work as “moral” combined with the demonization of the unemployed and working poor, and they have successfully generated enough distraction for people, until the Universal Basic Income concept developed, to question the very concept of: WHY MUST PEOPLE PERFORM WAGE WORK TO LIVE AT ALL?

Doesn’t RIGHT TO LIFE apply to citizens? The current destruction of all rights to medical care without profiteering “insurance” companies getting their 25% off the top and CEO salaries of $46 MILLION A YEAR in salary plus stock options and bonuses (for screwing people out of actual care by fine print and pretexts) illustrates the failure of the entire governmental “democracy” to serve the needs of the people.

The law could have been written so that corporations were obligated to share a percentage of their profits with the wage earners that made the profit possible. The law could still be changed to make it so. Will it ever happen? Never. Not one corporation would ever be willing to share the wealth. Hell, they won’t even pay a living wage. People are calling for a specific minimum wage of $15 an hour, but that doesn’t actually solve the problem of making sure that is a livable wage. And there are so many other problems that a plain minimum wage does not address that have been coming to the attention of the public more and more.

Wage theft, which as I understand it, is when bosses require that you show up for work 15 minutes earlier than your shift to change in to uniforms, or deny you a 10 minute break, or make you work through lunch, or otherwise cheat workers out of wages for time that the employer is actually taking away from them. Then there is the case of the factory workers who have resorted to wearing adult diapers because the management WILL NOT even let them go to the bathroom based on their natural needs since the “law” only requires a 10 minute break every 4 hours or something like that. Apart from the inhumanity of this, it adversely impacts women more because women have one less muscle part than male bladders so they literally physically cannot “hold it” longer than a man. Add a few experiences having children with the bowling ball growing and squeezing the bladder and then coming out a very small channel, and it is no wonder that women have to go to the bathroom more than men.

I suppose their answer would be, well we will just hire men who can hold it longer! But they won’t because they can get away with paying women 79% on the dollar and there is not a damn thing that anyone ever will do about it even though there are plenty of ways to address the problem. Universal basic income is one of them because it would allow women economic security enough to say “take this job and shove it” if you won’t even let me take a bathroom break when I need it, or more than two a shift.

The mindset of labor versus management today is not one of doing more for the workers will be better for the business, reduce turnover, and increase productivity. They got their increase of productivity by threat of job eliminations back when “downsizing” the euphemism for catastrophic labor force decimation became the thing to do for businesses “to survive” or “to be competitive in the global market” or to pay the management more money annually than thousands or hundreds of thousands of people earn in a lifetime.

I finally discovered a source for the infamous “at will” proposition that labor and management have “equal power.” It was one of the many bad Supreme Court Justices back in 1780 or so (I really have to find the citation again). His notion was that labor could walk away from any job “at will” and therefore that was equal to a business being able to fire an employee “at will.”

The logical flaws in this blow my mind and have done so ever since I was a teenager looking for my first job. Just like CORPORATIONS ARE NOT PEOPLE, which is obvious to any 4 year old child but not to Justice Scalia (may he be enjoying hell, too bad it was not sooner). CORPORATIONS have zero responsibilities as presently constructed to do anything they don’t want to do, and will soon have even less with the onslaught of gutting any and all regulation no matter how vital to life on earth. Child labor? Builds moral character and teaches them the value of [wage] work. Something that the millionaires and billionaires (of which there are an astonishing plenty, all on the backs of the financial coup, neoliberalism, and “decoupling” of wages from productivity as this author put it.

All business owners made it on their own without any help from anyone. They personally bulldozed the roads that allow raw materials to come in and products to be distributed. They hung the phone lines, the Internet cable, the electric grids, the sewers, the water lines, and personally developed building code standards that suited their needs (cheap and fast) rather than some egghead idea of what a safe load was for a second story with the fewest possible joists.

Then there are safety regulations. Of course, all management wants is profit and if it costs $1.00 or weighs a pound, and only costs 25 workers a year in death and dismemberment, that’s a reasonable cost to bear (and tax deductible). If cars blow up, or whatever, no problem, the actuarial tables will establish what the life of a mother working minimum wage for 20 years was worth. No consideration of he possible future education and moving into a higher paying job much less a profession like a lawyer of course.

The US does not actually believe in guilty until proven innocent for people, only for corporation misdeeds, and that requires whistleblowers whose lives are at risk, their livelihoods destroyed, and they often end up in jail because above God, all employers and the courts hold the power of contract (no matter how coercive) sacrosanct. So if you want a job, and have to sign away all rights to any intellectual property you invent or write or paint if it can be construed by management to be an outgrowth of “work product” in the slimmest of possible ways, you will be sued and denied your own right to your creativity, historical work experience, education, and personal time investment.

Bathroom breaks are denied because that literally means they are not making 50 cents off your labor. Casual chatter that make for a pleasant and human work experience is denied on the principle that if you are talking you cannot be working at maximum output and even though workers are human beings, thanks to the efficiency bastard back in the day, the sole arbiter of doing work is based on meeting unreasonable and unquestionable quotas that only constant and relentless repetition can achieve.

Universal basic income would effectively eliminate all the standard employee abuses because workers would not have to accept those working conditions and they would still have money for food without drug testing or restrictions against buying steak. Workers would be able to have a fixed income by which to budget. It is hard to budget when your hours and schedule vary week by week, just because your supervisor is an asshole and you turned him down when he wanted you to have sex with him to guarantee a better schedule.

Corporations are immortal, have unlimited resources, and no morals. They do not need to eat, have shelter, get an education, or anything that people must. The falseness of the corporate position that they’ll “go out of business” if they have to pay a living wage, or pay for medical insurance, or unemployment insurance, or anything other than the bare minimum the law (until now) requires is laughably false.

And even if it were not true. People are tossed on the destructive heap of bankruptcy over income tax owed on money they don’t even have (foreclosures that leave a balance due on a mortgage after the foreclosure price is considered INCOME by the IRS as “forgiven” money which is the “same” as if you had received the actual money. ARRGGGH. Not having money is not the same as having debt forgiven. How this goes on year after year and NO ONE is screaming, I will never understand. Furthermore, forgiven debt that accrues income tax IS NOT DISCHARGEABLE in bankruptcy. So you will owe forever. Plus it is added to your existing income so if you were to make $50,000 a year and lost your home and owed $100,000 after foreclosure, your income tax is now considered to be on $150,000 rate. So while you might have had enough deductions etc. to end up paying a small amount of tax before, now you pay at the rate of a persona with an adjusted gross of $150,000 at the earned income rate. Why this should be taxed at earned income rate instead of capital gains rate escapes me. Maybe I am wrong, but I am pretty sure I’m right. Too lazy to go research now since trying to finish this before I have to take back to library.

Sorry so rambling. If I had more time, it would be more organized and shorter. My points were: if a business can’t pay a living wage plus benefits, then they are crappy businesses and deserve to fail; since people (humans) need food and shelter and clothing and transport and phones and computers and television (be realistic, that’s the only form of entertainment many people can barely afford given cable TV exploitation of $60 a month plus set top boxes “rental” PER TELEVISION for a product monopoly for “trade secrets” or THEFT OF SERVICE prevention (guilty until proven innocent). Congress made a law, BTW, requiring the cable companies to allow free market modem purchases, so you could buy one for $100 instead of paying $10 a month for years, but then they came up with other ways around that to keep the supplement bucks flowing. Just like banking fees, and such like that are excessively punishment oriented for those least able to afford it: $35 overdraft fee when if you had the $35 you wouldn’t have had an overdraft. It doesn’t actually COST THE BANK anything realistically in the larger scheme of things considering they get to leverage your money 30 to 1 for profit from your deposits without owing you squat.

Drat there I go digressing again.

[Piketty] But the large wealth concentration will restrict economic growth and keep our democratic institutions from functioning properly.”

[Stiglitz] He also underscored how “the extremes of economic inequality get translated into political inequality.” with ore power accruing to a smaller and smaller number of wealthy individuals and families. Witness the election of policy makers who make it easier for rich people to accumulate capital. And the phenomenon of “assortative mating” — when offspring of the wealthy attend the same elite universities and marry members of the same self-perpetuating class. (In his book, The Price of InequalityL How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future, Stiglitz wrote: “The more divided a society becomes in terms of wealth, the more reluctant the wealthy are to SPEND MONEY ON COMMON NEEDS. The rich don’t need to rely on government for parks or education or personal security.”) “Something essentially American is lost” Stiglitz said. By which he meant the American Dream of social mobility. And then he concluded. “This is deeply disturbing.”

Krugman sounded some of the same themes. He said that “the inequality we’ve seen since the 1980s is in large part the one-tenth of one percent pulling away” from everyone else.”This is not Gilded Age inequality,” he added. “The one percent of today is overwhelmingly business executives” getting rich from earned income. “But there’s a definite shift from income – to wealth-based inequality,” as evidenced in the Forbes list of the 400 richest Americans, according to Krugman. The list’s top ten includes two Daltons and two from the Koch family; its top 20 include an additional two members of the Koch family, four from the Daltons, and three member of the Mars family. The six Daltons who made the Forbes 400 list in 2014 had a NET worth $144.7 BILLION in INHERITED WEALTH — more than the GDPs of all but 54 of the world’s 196 counties.  (pp. 46-47)

Another one languishing in the save drafts that has been there since February just waiting for a wrapping up. Worth reading.


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