inequality.is

Inequality is real, it’s personal, it’s expensive and it was created. Today, 1% of Americans are taking home nearly 20% of the country’s total income and own nearly 35% of the country’s wealth. This didn’t happen by accident. As former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich explains, we allowed it to happen.

We can’t have a prosperous economy without a strong and prosperous middle class. Inequality can be fixed. So, let’s fix it.

inequality.is, a new interactive site from the Economic Policy Institute, explains the causes of and solutions to income inequality.

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The recent past has seen greater economic inequality in America than at any time since the Great Depression.

In the three decades after World War II American incomes grew quickly and equally, but starting in the late 1970s things began to change.

Today, 1% of Americans are taking home nearly 20 percent of the country’s total income, and own more than 35% of America’s wealth.

And it didn’t happen by accident. It’s the result of policy decisions on taxes, education, trade, labor, macroeconomics, and financial regulation — all of which shifted economic power away from low and moderate-income American families.

Economic inequality is real, it’s personal, it’s expensive. And it was created.

Since the 1960s, tax rates on very high incomes have been slashed dramatically, starving public investments in schools and roads and everything else needed to build our economy, and providing ever-greater incentives to rig the economy’s rules to send more money to the top

The laws we’ve created to govern globalization have protected corporate interests, but done nothing for American workers.

Instead, we’ve allowed worker’s rights to be systematically dismantled, both here and abroad.

Policymakers also began using high unemployment — which hurts everybody, but especially low and middle-wage workers — to protect the wealthy from any hint of inflation.

And, then, corporate interests pushed to abandon safeguards preventing the financial sector from making risky bets, which had to be backstopped by American taxpayers when those bets went sour — a protection not given America’s underwater homeowners.

All of this created the worst economic crisis since the 1930s — and we did it by allowing those with the most economic power to set the rules of our economy.

It’s continuing today. By the end of 2012, American workers’ share of the economic pie was the lowest in more than half a century while the share going to corporate profits was the highest on record.

This isn’t sustainable. We can’t have a prosperous economy without a large and growing middle-class.

None of this happened by accident. We allowed it to happen.

But it can be fixed. So let¹s fix it.

Category: Employment, Video, Wages & Income

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

38 Responses to “Economic Inequality Is Not An Accident, It Was Created”

  1. Dogfish says:

    Just leaving this here…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Share_Our_Wealth

    Personally, I really like introducing ceilings on assets and income pegged to a multiple of the average assets and income. That is what we call “aligned incentives”.

    Also, a duration-based capital gains rate to encourage investment instead of speculation. This would also obviously nerf HFT..

  2. Dogfish says:

    Also, I find “The raising of revenue and taxes for the support of this program was to come from the reduction of swollen fortunes from the top” to be an important point.

    That adjustment will either happen sooner, by virtue of policy adjustments, or later, after the torches and pitchforks get brought out. This is not me defining an ultimatum, but making an observation of an unsustainable path and the corrections that natural arise from imbalance.

  3. scm0330 says:

    I too think our malformed educational system is a root cause contributor to inequality, but I don’t understand why more “investment” is offered as a cure for its woes. (I’m taking a mild liberty with your argument BR; you merely state that disinvestment in education is one of our problems. I’m deducing that, ergo, we need to spend more on education to reduce inequality.)

    Seems remarkably similar to the HC situation…we spend more per capita and get less in outcomes than the rest of the developed world. But in HC, we discuss restructuring the system, steamlining, removing rentiers, innovating. Paying for outcomes, not procedures. We don’t talk (the sane ones among us, anyway) about how much more money we need to spend on the system. Why does the educational conversation gravitate so readily and quickly to mo’ money?

  4. Mbuna says:

    Good idea. Personally I fear the horse has left the barn years ago and we are on the road to serfdom. I think the fundamental machinery is now in place that will keep the populace under some form of control no matter what happens and thus at the same time the 1% (or however you want to qualify/quantify those with the power) will increase their incomes and their power. It will require something far more drastic to break the current momentum of the 1% in my opinion. To be sure, the current situation is not sustainable in its present form and I fear it will morph into something far worse that, unfortunately, will be sustainable and only the 1% will enjoy it. And I don’t think there is any conspiracy going on. It’s not personal. It’s just business.

  5. Angryman1 says:

    That is because by 1969 the bourgeois got their wind back after the great contraction scared them for a generation. It was during this period, the bourgeois believed the laborers and artisans had grown to strong. Thus came David Rockefeller’s Trilateral Commission(destroy the nationalistic, pro-labor part of the Democratic Party) and Bohemian Grove(the older sect of rentier’s like Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan). Nelson took the ashes of the JBS and recruited Lew Rockwell, Murry Rothbard and Ron Paul to create “identity” politics for whites. Murry tried the same thing in the late 60′s with the black panthers. The Neo-cons and their foreign phobias militarism for whites, which has ironically became the favorites of “conservatives”. What is amazing, how people fall for this tripe.

    We need a deflationary collapse to remember what happened before. My guess that would be blood on the streets though and thus they may do anything for power……….but they won’t do that.

  6. Dogfish says:

    I totally agree Mbuna. It may very well be too late (for a generation or two), and it’s not a “conspiracy” in the tinfoil hat type way (though perhaps in the RICO way). It is just business and people maximizing their personal gain — totally understandable. The breakdown is in the management of the system, because we (collectively, as a nation) are letting the winners dictate the rules, when the system should ideally be managed to maximize competition, contrary to the wishes of the individual actors in that system (which is where regulation is needed in a capitalist system – competition is why it works).

    Allowing the winners to push through anti-competitive policies is partly why we are in the rut we are. That, plus the glorification of capital while demonizing labor. You can see the evidence of this everywhere. From how unions are portrayed to how, when the time comes to cut, it’s always the social welfare for the poor on the table instead of the corporate welfare for the rich… sorry, I mean “job creators” (what a cute term Luntz came up with).

    That said, while the social hierarchy we are pivoting towards may be around for a generation or two, it is not sustainable. It’s just a matter of how bad it gets before the bindings used to hold the pendulum in one direction break loose. The more it is artificially pushed in one direction, the harder the swing will be in the other.

    :dons tinfoil hat:

    Part of me feels like this is a silent slow motion coup that has been underway for a couple of decades, perhaps longer. Almost like The Business Plot failed (fascist coup against FDR), and Hitler failed, so corporate power has decided to take a less aggressive tactic in achieving it’s aims of replacing nations as the primary organizing dynamic of society (no bonus army coup, no explicit fascist state… but a “soft coup”, if you will… fascism of course being the confluence of corporate and government interests, as defined by it’s father, Benito).

    It’s totally natural for power to seek power, and corporations are just acting in their best interest… what is unnatural is our hesitation to curb it and maximize competition – to our own demise. Corporate power being of course a proxy for the “1%”. If shareholders had more sway in corporate behavior, many of these myopic overreaches could be dissuaded from occurring.

    With both parties and many regulatory agencies captured, change will be difficult, but not impossible. Far from it. Indeed, if we continue on this course, it’s inevitable. Nature abhors vacuums and imbalance, and ultimately we all live under her rules (replace Nature with God if you feel the need to apply a humanoid form to the energy that connects us all). It’s just whether the inevitable rebalancing occurs voluntarily at the point of a pen or forcefully at the point of a pitchfork.

    • Frwip says:

      While the social hierarchy we are pivoting towards may be around for a generation or two, it is not sustainable.

      Not sustainable? Mmm. I have my doubts.

      Feudalism and quasi-feudalism have been the historic norm when it comes to the organization of human societies. It may be grossly sub-optimal in terms of aggregate outcome and general welfare. But alas, as a model of society, it has proven itself over the historical record to be a very stable arrangement.

      Actually, stability is probably the only virtue of that type of society. Baring outside pressures, feudal societies have revolts, but they don’t have revolutions.

  7. Dogfish says:

    Also, I must say, in line with my belief that change is inevitable… I’ve been following this stuff for a good while now, and recently I am more and more surprised at how many people are beginning to think more about these issues – that is what gives me hope and why I think change is inevitable.

    Many topics that are part of the national discussion today were the realm of tinfoil hat types a decade or so ago. Talking about stuff like this then used to have most people wondering whether they should contact the FBI – now it seems more like talking about this stuff helps form connections and rally people around the cause.

    The times, they are a-changing.

  8. rd says:

    The 1% have the right to bankrupt themselves. When they insist on executing that right, we should allow them to do so. One of the purposes of periods like the 1920s and 30s, and 1970s is to cleanse the upper income levels to allow the new entrepreneur generation to move up and old, ineffective one to move down the income and wealth ladder. We blew that opportunity in 2008-9.

    The policy-makers mistook for saving the individuals running and owning the large corporations for saving the large corporations themselves. The leadership of bailed out corporations should have been shown the door once the shareholders had taken their 60%+ hits to their wealth. Instead, we ended up with the same tired managements receiving massive pay packages for poor execution. Many of them should have been sued or tried in criminal court like the S&L crisis and merger crazes from the 80s and 90s.

    However, I think these tired managements are going to give us a second opportunity to clean house when the Dodd-Frank fig leaf fails to live up to its hype. we will also see a re-ordering of healthcare and defence sector costs that will focus more on efficiency and effectiveness instead of gaming the government. It won’t be pretty, but it should set us up for another couple of decades of continued growth afterwards. They will have used up their Get Out of Jail Free card over the past five years and not even their bought-and-paid for politicians will be able to withstand the wave of protest from the populace over the prospects of another bailout.

  9. peterkrause says:

    And I noticed a headline just today, that the big banks are pushing to eliminate the tax exemption for credit unions.

  10. sanjacinto314 says:

    Have the wealthy and those in control of the markets slanted the rules to benefit them? Yes. Should they be allowed to? No. Is the middle class weak and getting weaker? Yes. Do the wealthy pay less tax than they ought to through a byzantine tax code and clever attorneys? Yes. Should they be allowed to? No. Should income be capped? NO!. That is the furthest thing from the right solution.

    Foster entrepreneurship and income producing business, but require them all; individuals and businesses alike, to pay their fair share and thereby participate in contributing to what the society deems government should pay for, but don’t cap the potential or the ability to earn and own.

    Do I think meaningful tax code reform and enforcement will happen any time soon? No – it is very entrenched the way it is.

  11. Herman Frank says:

    A nice article under the reference point: “Wishful thinking!” & “We can all dream!”

    That said, “Agree, agree, agree.” But! To go into a struggle, a fight, a dispute, the first lesson of contact is “To know your opponent.” Who and what is actually at the base of this non-sustainable path of inequality? Is it perhaps a culture, a world of make-believe, which is prodded on by a group of lobbyists paid by …? Perhaps the subject of inequality is popular on blogs of like minded, but the fact is that there’s no public outcry about. Articles in the general press, discussions on talk-shows, initiatives to get out the vote on it …….. are non-existent. It’s like seeing the infrastructure around us crumbling and everyone just stepping over the holes, or swerving around the holes. But nobody insisting a budget and work-crew called out to FIX IT.

    The economic statistics point out that the social contract is dead letter. The income inequality is the highest in the world, easily beating the whole range of developing to mature economies. The American Dream of upward mobility is proven dead.

    YET! The hype and story telling of “wonderful” and “great” continues unabated. How so, with 30+ million fellow Americans on Food Stamps (under another name these days, but still the same)? Blatant economic crime unpunished. An infrastructure which is straight out of the 50-s and 60-s, and crumbling. A political process which is 90% slanted towards “he who pays, decides”.

    Is this the same as Big Tobacco depicting “the cool people who smoke” and everyone closing eyes and ears to the sight and sound of emphysema, cancer, and early death?

    A culture must become self-reflective and self-correcting to change for the better. It’s called “growing up”. Give it another 2 generations. In the mean time, “hang-on to your hat”.

  12. Sackerson says:

    “But it can be fixed. So let¹s fix it.” How, Barry? So many prophets, no army. Is the best we can hope to do, simply to record our outrage and indignation?

    • rd says:

      1. Let them go bankrupt. I understand the concept of TBTF institutions but there are should not be TBTF people.

      2. Prosecute lawbreaking individuals. “Behind every fortune lies a great crime”. Many of the real estate laws broken during the housing and mortgage crisis were put in place in the 1800s during the last period when nefarious wealthy people took advantage of weak laws and enforcement to gather huge properties from weak people. The 2000s announced that this was now acceptable practice again. The individuals behind lawbraking should be prosecuted – they should not be TBTF.

      3. Estate tax with more teeth. Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations should be assisted by the state. Leave generous exemptions (less than $10 million) in place to allow for the continuation of small business/family farm operations. Tax the remainder or force it to be spread out in complex trusts to prevent a centralization of that money’s power in future generations. There are already numerous advantages granted by growing up in a family of wealth. Locking up the wealth for people who did not earn it is not good for society and eventually weakens everyone.

      • DeDude says:

        I think the problem for a lot of these oligarchs (including our own concervative 1%’ers) are that they really do believe that they are orders of magnitude better, harder working and more deservant than those they are trambling on. They live in a parallel universe where they actually see what they are doing and advocating as being just. Because they live in an ecco-chamber where even their maid nod her head and say; “yes mam/sir”, it never comes to their mind that someone else could look at the same world and find it unjust. Their standard answer of what to do with/for people at the lower end of society is that those people should just “do what I did”. Being clueless to the fact that the wast majority of people do struggle to improve their situation, and that a lack of effort or desire for improvement is almost never the reason they are not doing so well. A lot of middle class people have the same iilusions of the poor. However, as they and their children begin tasting the same bitter reality as the poor they may finally get it and then things could begin happening very fast.

  13. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    The true equalizing currency of the US is the vote. That currency fails when only two, out of a myriad of options, are allowed. The hucksters that promote this two party system have worked hard to paint them as polar opposites, when, in truth, the only difference between them is a thin film of slime. Both parties serve the interests of the corporate super-citizens and the people who hide behind them.

    People tend to fantasize that their own capitalistic triumphs (middle class status), came at from their own diligence, relative cultural superiority, and devotion to a “work ethic” — a marketing coup, if ever there was one.

    Nothing could be further from the truth. The middle class grew out of our grandparents’ votes to create it — to level the playing field for the vast majority of citizens. General wealth and prosperity ensued.

    While we still had the very wealthy and the very poor, the gap between the two had become smaller than at any time in the history of the world.

    The “trickle-down” economy — basically the idea that the greedy would share their excess wealth, if only we would allow them to keep it — was the greatest Bill of Goods ever sold to the American people.

    How long will it last?

    Until the pain of the reality of allowing ourselves to be screwed outweighs the pleasure of the fantasy that we are the screwers and not the screwees. OTOH, I wouldn’t be surprised if we vote away our right to vote, or accept a single party candidate for each and every elected office (making voting a formality).

    Seems to work for the Chinese.

  14. MikeNY says:

    Bill Moyers was on Charlie Rose last night for the full hour, talking about inequality and the vanishing middle class. He mentions how his long life experience has made him something of a “radical”. I’m sure you can get the video online at Rose’s website — it’s worth your time.

    Wrt Sackerson: I don’t know exactly how to fix it. But I do know this: the distribution of wealth and income in this country is immoral, and anyone who can’t see that is willfully blind. Like our great civil rights struggles, I think this struggle must be framed in terms of morality. John Rawls tried admirably to do this in “A Theory of Justice” — but we need a less academic treatment of the issue, one that is readily intelligible to all people.

  15. ski3938 says:

    The job of the 1% is to protect each others way of life. We have one way to change this, term limits and the draft. Right now royalty is protected !!!

  16. ancientone says:

    In the public arena today anyone who doesn’t completely support our Darwinian “survival of the best liars and crooks” economic system is immediately called a “bleeding heart socialist”………we have become a country that doesn’t deserve to keep existing, but then world history is full of those, much to the misery of their inhabitants.

  17. ryanhawk says:

    “Since the 1960s, tax rates on very high incomes have been slashed dramatically, starving public investments in schools and roads and everything else needed to build our economy, and providing ever-greater incentives to rig the economy’s rules to send more money to the top”

    It would be interesting to see real numbers on public investments in schools and roads since the 1960. I don’t think “starved” fairly describes the actual level of investment. Inequality is certainly increasing, but the argument that limited education funding is a contributing factor is hardly credible. I would guess the same is true for road funding as well, though tax dollars collected specifically for that purpose have been diverted (especially at the state level) to other purposes, most prominently health care and education.

  18. cowboyinthejungle says:

    Regarding the reluctance of the populace to inform themselves and mount a resistance to inequality, it may have to do with the civil religions of Progress and Capitalism. With respect to Progress, we have been ingrained to believe that we are on an infinite upward arc of civilization. We believe science, technology, social reforms, etc., are unidirectional pursuits. This is not what history evinces. But to counter these beliefs, and consider decline as a realistic possibility moving forward, produces too much cognitive dissonance with the Progress narrative we so strongly cling to. So rather than facing these contradictions, we “step over the potholes,” as it were, and pretend it’s all going just fine, or at least it will the next time “our” guy gets into office.

    As for the religion of Capitalism, we believe that if we do not achieve (in whatever arena), it is a personal failing. That corporate monopolies and oligopolies are merely the winners of a grand competition. That any utterance, or heaven forbid, pursuit, of a collective goal, is to be stomped out as the sin that Ayn Rand says it is. There is no room for gray anymore.

    This is not to say progress and capitalism are bad things. Rather that when you begin to capitalize them, you create problems for yourself. In theological terms, it is the difference between spirituality and organized religion.

    These are not not my ideas, but it’s a worthwhile mental exercise to consider that progress has not evolved from our unique intellect and innovation to bring about modern Western society, as the religion would have us believe. Instead, progress may simply be the effect of a confluence of abundant cheap energy, debt-based economics, and Imperial tribute. As each of these foundations is showing massive cracks, dissonance with the civil religion narrative increases.

  19. formerlawyer says:

    Term limits?
    Right, let the lobbyists write our legislation over perpetual newby politicians…..
    The draft?
    The US military forces do not want or need a draft. The military is not the best place to mandate broader social change, and in any event the 1% will still find ways around the draft, vide George Bush II National Guard Services and the perma-student deferrals.

    Fix the oligarchic (corporate) money in politics – electoral/campaign funding/spending rules must be changed to get better results.

  20. JustinTipton says:

    I’m very afraid our efforts to “fix” inequality will only break the system more. Most people seem to equate a high income with a high net worth. They are very wrong. A 1% wage earner makes $500,000 a year. A 1% net worth person almost makes that in investment returns, per year. Taxing the high wage earners will not fix this system, but I’d place a very large bet that is what we will try. All that will do is keep entrepreneurs from ever reaching the 1% club.

    If you believe inequality is wrong and America has a right to steal from the rich and give to the poor, you better hope that is exactly what they do. Taxing the high wage earners is not going to cut into a high net worths $100 million dollar fortune. Their income is capital gains anyway. You will simply keep the same folks at the top longer with your ignorant effort to remove them.

  21. gman says:

    Important distinction.. I could easily see a top marginal tax rate going north of 60% while eliminating the tax on cap gains…

    This is a little shell game the capital oligarchy use against the higher ends of wage earners.

    The elites earn “cap gains”…working slobs earn “wages”

    One is taxed at 15% (less when offshore) and the other all in at the margin can get up to north of 50%.

  22. bigsteve says:

    I subscribe to Dr. Reich’s blog too. I tend to seek out gifted and intelligent people for their viewpoints , perception and knowledge.

    Eventually enough poor white folk and small businesses will realize what the large corporate folk have been doing to them and this GOP coalition will break up.

  23. Doug of North Texas says:

    Another source of inequality is financial market instability – I have seen summaries of the studies, but don’t recall where. This is a problem particulary with 401Ks and the concept that everyone can guide their own investments – we meet the enemy and they are us. Just think if we privatized Social Security in 2006 per GW Bush and then we had 2007-2009. Inequality in this scenario increases as the smaller and more vulnerable players are forced from the game at the worst time, and the gains accrue only to the larger players with more ability to wait out the distressing periods. Portfolio diversity and calmness are more effective when real dangers are far away.

    Bottom line: if you allow rogue players to create instability, those more severely harmed and those relatively benefitted can be predicted in advance. See pre-2006 and post-2009 wealth statistics by income and wealth levels for details.

  24. Slash says:

    Well, I don’t work in finance/economics, so I don’t know exactly what we should do (aside from making the finance sector a lot less powerful and a lot more accountable to the rest of us), but I do think a change of attitude overall is necessary. Seems to me (obviously, my opinion and observations, YMMV) immediately post-WW2, Americans seemed to believe that the success of all was important (also obviously, they had exceptions to this rule, mostly non-white people, I’m not suggesting the ’40s and ’50s were ideal).

    There seemed to be the idea that we’re all in this together and screwing people over for short-term gain was not acceptable. Then, over time, it appeared that this changed and “Greed is good” became the ideal. “F*** you, I got mine.” Caveat emptor, with no more belief that just because you can screw someone over doesn’t mean you should. And the shipping of many U.S. jobs overseas, enabled by both parties, I’m sure. We have become America Inc., with “shareholder value” and market cap being the way we measure worth. We worship money in this country. We’ve made the acquisition of wealth a virtue above all others. Of course, we’ll pay lip service to other values (because hypocrisy is a virtue here, too), but the primary directive is “more.” More money. With everything else below that.

    I think that should change. But as long as the people who preach that crap are in charge, it won’t.

    I would also like it if politicians (mostly Republican, from my observation) didn’t feel free to imply that the “public sector” is worthless and doesn’t do anything and costs too much. You’d think the deaths of over 400 first responders on Sept. 11, 2001, the deaths of 14 first responders in West, Texas and the deaths of 19 firefighters in Arizona recently would make it politically dangerous to say that public employees don’t do anything and cost too much money, but that’s what America is today: a corporatocracy, where people feel free to call for privatizing every function, despite copious evidence that corporations aren’t any better at running things than government is.

  25. DeDude says:

    We may get our own “Arab Spring” sooner than most people think. The problems that created the “Occupy Wall Street” movement did not go away. The ability of the plutocrats to control information via their ownership of the media is being challenged. Americans age 18-29 have woken up and more are negative towards capitalism than towards socialism.

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2012-11-01/americans-aged-18-29-have-more-favorable-response-socialism-capitalism

    The speed at which attitudes towards gays have changed is an indication that people can indeed wake up and see the truth remarkably quickly. When its kicking them in the gut with failure to get a decent job and follow their parents and grandparents path into a middle class life they would be hard pressed not to see the truth about predatory capitalism.

    • rd says:

      I believe a number of Third World countries have used high unemployment, reducing real incomes, concentration wealth in a small upper class, increasing police state methods, and reducing safety nets to great advantage in fomenting internal revolutions. Usually the people running the place had no idea the revolution was coming until the serfs were storming the palace.

      Along these lines, I have been constantly baffled by the relentless conservative assault on things like Social Security which is probably one of the better tools for reducing the likelihood of major social unrest.

  26. mrflash818 says:

    As fossil fuel availability sunsets, it will accelerate the sunsetting of the middle class.

    Back before the days of fossil fuels, there were basically two classes: the land owners, and the sharecroppers.

    I think things are headed back to that pre-FF civilization model of classes.

  27. resuscitate says:

    It has to start with econ 101 and its definition of a capitalist economy as a collective efficient uses and allocations of resources – materials, human, capitals – without regards of externalities like social and environmental costs. As taught and practiced, where maximizing profit and minimizing cost are the only drivers, the capitalsit economy results in inequalities, social disruptions, and environmental degradations. Evidences are everywhere. As long as cost differences (comparative advantages) exist, exploitation, arbitrage in the name of efficient use of resources will persist and consequences mentioned above will be inevitable.

    • RuKidding says:

      I will be the first to admit that there is an issue with the distribution of wealth here in the US, but the website wants to distribute wealth equally among the 90% and the 10%. That’s not capitalism.

      Resuscitate, educate me, what type of economy does not result in inequalities?

      What is the motivation to work harder than the next guy if we are all getting the same pay? I think taxing income in an appropriate and fair manner is a reasonable solution. Just not sure how I would define fair. How you would define it?

  28. scalxndr says:

    The points Dr Reich brings up are legitimate but further analysis is necessary.
    1)While tax rates have dropped for the top income earners since the 1960s I would like to know how much more the balance sheet of the Federal Government has expanded for things outside the original intent of government, such as entitlements, expanded departments, and programs? 2) Who has direct interest in those and helps design legislature to benefit them? 3) What has the population growth of the US been during that time span, and where are those people coming into the wealth hierarchy? Who is actually writing most of the Finance Reform legislation, well really all legislation these days?

    Lets really look at education – over time our schools have become more and more standardized yet the world we work in is becoming less so every day. We outspend the every country in the world in education on a per student basis. So money clearly is NOT the problem there. The many forms of creativity has been squashed in schools yet we want our kids to out think the rest of the world – hard to do when you are not developing those important skills and are more concerned with global/state rankings.

    This is not a D vs R argument, as Barry pointed out in a much earlier post – it is the individuals vs Corporations ( I would also lump in Unions). There is a massive argument to be made that our politicians regardless of party are not representing their constituents at all – Taxation without Representation – not reading a bill and voting on it is not representing my best interest nor their districts. Why is everything pushed through so fast now? What happened to actually debating and problem solving and issue we face instead of name calling (both sides) and the standard deflect/avoid/blame answers we receive, my way or the highway? They do not represent my interests they are representing theirs.
    Also there are term limits – we as a populace are so disengaged, disenfranchised and disconnected (on purpose), we fail to hold their feet to the fire. There was a major piece which has influenced this put in place back in 1913 – the 17th Amendment. We now pay less attention to our state governments than we do the Federal government. Think of the gerrymandering that takes place every election cycle for the Parties to keep their people in power.

    But at the same time we love it when “our guy” bring home the bacon (see the stats on Mr Ron Paul) and have the audacity to complain about the out of control spending.

    There will always be inequality based upon someones definition of what that actually is, especially wealth. It is the same concept of “fair”. Once you “level the playing field” for one group of people you are un-leveling it for another. The wealthy will always get richer in good times and in bad, for a myriad of reasons but simple math really. But when you start to look at things like executive level pay vs the lower ranks it begs the question, what is causing this? Self-preservation. Almost all decisions we make are based on self-preservation. It is the root of all good and evil.

  29. cschene says:

    In my view it must come by the democratic process or by force of arms and if the direction does not to significantly reverse within five year, I think the latter should be the method.

  30. [...] “Economic Inequality Is Not An Accident, It Was Created,” Big Picture, July 9, 2013, http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2013/07/economic-inequality-is-not-an-accident-it-was-created/; Scott Sernau, <em>Worlds Apart: Social Inequalities in a Global Economy</em>, 2nd ed. [...]

  31. [...] Economic Inequality Is Not An Accident, It Was Created (ritholtz.com) [...]