"Corporations are NOT people! Money is NOT free speech!"
- TomCat, www.politics.plus.org -
"Advertising is legalized lying."
- H.G. Wells -
Big business AND government have grown far too large and inefficient in this country. They have handicapped themselves by turning boards of directors into buddy clubs filled with out-of-touch officers who actually drag their companies down, by manufacturing a bogus air of profitability through the outsourcing of labor and cutting wages down. Huge corporations have managed to buy off large portions of Congress through massive campaign contributions to Republicans and Democrats alike. Corporate lobbyists, rather than Congresspersons, often write bills themselves and offer them up to be enacted! They have managed to corrupt government regulators to the point where these "regulators" are no longer acting in the vpublic's best interest. THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is why we see the government seemingly paralyzed and unable to deliver what we all need from it. It is the reason why only laws beneficial mainly to the privileged and wealthy get passed and why everyone else is left wanting. It is the reason why our activist Supreme Court has now allowed corporations the exact same rights as individuals, and has declared they may contribute all the cash they can muster to spend freely without restriction in our political campaigns!
This perverse corporate influence is rampant and permeates all areas of American life today. It is why TV shows are constantly interrupted by lying commercials which insult our intelligence, and why these obnoxious commercial breaks have steadily grown from 8 minutes per HOUR in the very early 1960s to roughly 22 minutes per HOUR today. It is the reason why American jobs have been exported outside of our borders; why our wages have flattened out or have even been reduced in recent years; why labor union power, influence, and membership have all declined to dangerously anemic levels over the past 40 years; and why the middle class is rapidly disappearing. This entire country is being squeezed so those at the top of the income scale may grow even wealthier than they have ever been.
This is NOT how democracy is supposed to function, and it is a dangerously regressive phenomenon which must be halted and reversed!
A revealing study by Norton & Ariely, 2010, shows that Americans are clueless about how the country's wealth is distributed or is as concentrated as it now is. (Left click on the graphs to make them larger if you need to). When shown three pie charts representing possible wealth distributions, 90% or more of the 5,522 respondents -- whatever their gender, age, income level, or party affiliation -- thought that the American wealth distribution most resembled one in which the top 20% has about 60% of the wealth. Of course, the top 20% actually control about 85% of the wealth!
Even more unbelievable, they did not come close to the amount of wealth held by the bottom 40% of the population: the lowest two groups which compose the lowest 40% hold just 0.3% of the wealth in the United States! Most people in the survey guessed the figure to be between 8% and 10%, and two dozen academic economists got it wrong too, by guessing about 2% -- seven times too high. Those surveyed did have it about right for what the 20% in the middle have; it's at the top and the bottom that they don't have any idea of what's really going on.
Table 3: Share of wealth held by the Bottom 99% and Top 1% in the United States, 1922-2007.
Bottom 99 percent / Top 1 percent
1922 63.3% / 36.7%
1929 55.8% / 44.2%
1933 66.7% / 33.3%
1939 63.6% / 36.4%
1945 70.2% / 29.8%
1949 72.9% / 27.1%
1953 68.8% / 31.2%
1962 68.2% / 31.8%
1965 65.6% / 34.4%
1969 68.9% / 31.1%
1972 70.9% / 29.1%
1976 80.1% / 19.9%
1979 79.5% / 20.5%
1981 75.2% / 24.8%
1983 69.1% / 30.9%
1986 68.1% / 31.9%
1989 64.3% / 35.7%
1992 62.8% / 37.2%
1995 61.5% / 38.5%
1998 61.9% / 38.1%
2001 66.6% / 33.4%
2004 65.7% / 34.3%
2007 65.4% / 34.6%
Sources: 1922-1989 data from Wolff (1996). 1992-2007 data from Wolff (2010).
Table 4: Percentage of wealth held in 2000 by the Top 10% of the adult population in various Western countries:
United States 69.8%
It is interesting to note that all of these countries EXCEPT THE UNITED STATES have generous universal health care services provided by their governments that are financed by their taxpayers!
Source: 2006 study, World Institute for Development Economics Research
Corporations love to talk about how lower taxes and huge profits are necessary to provide stockholders with generous dividend checks, as if millions of lower income folks will benefit. But as the table below clearly shows, only 8.9% of the bottom 80% of wage earners are even stockholders!
Table 5a: Concentration of stock ownership in the United States, 2001-2007
Percent of all stock owned:
Wealth class / 2001 / 2004 / 2007
Top 1% 33.5% / 36.7% / 38.3%
Next 19% 55.8% / 53.9% / 52.8%
Bottom 80% 10.7% / 9.4% / 8.9%
Table 5b: Amount of stock owned by various wealth classes in the U.S., 2007
Percent of households owning stocks worth:
Wealth class $0 (no stocks) / $1-$10,000 / More than $10,000
Top 1% 7.4% / 4.2% / 88.4%
95-99% 7.8% / 2.7% / 89.5%
90-95% 13.2% / 5.4% / 81.4%
80-90% 17.9% / 10.9% / 71.2%
60-80% 34.6% / 18.3% / 47.1%
40-60% 52.3% / 25.6% / 22.1%
20-40% 69.7% / 21.6% / 8.7%
Bottom 20% 84.7% / 14.3% / 2.0%
Source: Wolff, 2007 and 2010
THE TOP 400 WEALTHIEST AMERICAN WAGE EARNERS HOLD MORE WEALTH TODAY THAN THE BOTTOM 155 MILLION COMBINED!
In 1970, CEOs made $25 for every $1 the average worker made. Due to technological advancements, production and profit levels exploded from 1970 - 2000. With the lion's share of increased profits going to the CEO's, this pay ratio has now dramatically risen to a whopping $90 for CEOs to $1 for the average worker!
Graph courtesy www.politicsplus.org/
Our economy has become top-heavy, folks. This unhealthy trend toward repeated tax cuts for the very rich combined with ever-accelerating CEO pay and benefits coming at the expense of average workers' pay and benefits is unsustainable and must be REVERSED! Like most top-heavy items, if not corrected soon, the country itself will collapse altogether. The signs of economic collapse are all around us. Our infrastructure is in serious disrepair. Corporations grow greedier every day. Labor has become a scapegoat to be neutralized and exported. Debt is rising at an alarming rate.The very rich are sitting on their money or investing overseas while the country they were born in stagnates and putrifies.
A PEOPLE'S PARTY dedicated solely to reversing these threatening trends is the ONLY answer! It must restore the power of labor and, through government regulation, roll back runaway CEO pay, minimize corporate influence over government, and revamp our grossly unfair tax system which benefits only the very wealthy. It must reduce the power and influence of weak, blue dog Democrats and help push the hopelessly out-of-touch and ultra-conservative Republican Party into its deserved place on the scrap heap of history. Time is running out for the middle class. Proudly hoisting the banner of the People's Party, the middle class and poor must strike back NOW!
America's Sweetheart, Part III
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