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Archive for the ‘income inequality’ Category

Most favor heavier taxes on rich. Wealth polarization regarded as at dangerous levels

Posted by Charles II on May 19, 2008

John Thornhill, FT:

Public opinion across Europe, Asia and the US is strikingly consistent in considering that the gap between rich and poor is too wide and that the wealthy should pay more taxes….

According to the latest FT/Harris poll, strong majorities in five European countries – ranging from 76 per cent in Spain to 87 per cent in Germany – consider that income inequality is too great.

But 78 per cent of respondents in the US, traditionally seen as more tolerant of income inequality, also think the gap is too wide….

Clear majorities in all countries agree that taxes should be raised on the rich and lowered on the poor. In Britain, 74 per cent of respondents think that those on low incomes should be taxed less…

US respondents were the most resistant to the idea of lowering taxes on the poor, with 27 per cent agreeing with the proposition that taxes should be kept at current levels.

Posted in economy, income inequality, taxes | 12 Comments »

Health Care And Employment

Posted by Phoenix Woman on April 17, 2008

As Atrios says, an interesting thing about this ad by Ron Wyden is that it dares to suggest that many of us may be trapped in jobs we hate because of the need for health insurance or just plain old access to affordable health care. It’s generally taboo to admit that life for most of us is less rewarding, financially or otherwise, than it was for our parents.

Which is as good a segue as any into this passage taken from a new article by Robert Kuttner in the New England Journal of Medicine:

Changing demographics and medical technology pose a cost challenge for every nation’s system, but ours is the outlier. The extreme failure of the United States to contain medical costs results primarily from our unique, pervasive commercialization. The dominance of for-profit insurance and pharmaceutical companies, a new wave of investor-owned specialty hospitals, and profit-maximizing behavior even by nonprofit players raise costs and distort resource allocation. Profits, billing, marketing, and the gratuitous costs of private bureaucracies siphon off $400 billion to $500 billion of the $2.1 trillion spent, but the more serious and less appreciated syndrome is the set of perverse incentives produced by commercial dominance of the system.

Markets are said to optimize efficiencies. But despite widespread belief that competition is the key to cost containment, medicine — with its third-party payers and its partly social mission — does not lend itself to market discipline.

The Invisible Hand is slapping us around. (It’s also attached to some parties who would rather we didn’t know they existed, so we would be forced to blame our plight on ‘market forces’ as opposed to actual perpetrators.)

Posted in capitalism as cancer, economy, health care, health issues, income inequality, You're On Your Own-ership Society | 3 Comments »

If Most Big Economies Worldwide Are In Or Nearing Recessions…

Posted by Phoenix Woman on March 18, 2008

…then why are commodity prices sky-high?

That’s the question Jeffrey Frankel posits while guest blogging at RGE Monitor:

The popular explanation since 2004 has been rapid growth in the world economy. The strongest growth has of course been coming from China and other recently minted manufacturing powerhouses in Asia, but the expansion has been unusually broad-based – including up to last year the United States and even a reinvigorated Europe. So growth has pushed up demand for farm products, energy and other industrial inputs, right?

This reigning explanation now looks suspect. Since last summer the US economy has slowed down noticeably, and is probably entering a recession. Despite talk of decoupling, it is clear that other countries are also slowing down at least to some extent. In its most recent forecast, the IMF World Economic Outlook revised downward the growth rate for virtually every region, including China. The overall global growth rate for 2008 has been marked down by 1.1% (from 5.2 % in July 2007, just before the sub-prime mortgage crisis hit, to 4.1 % as of January 29, 2008). And prospects continue to deteriorate. Yet commodity prices have found their second wind over precisely this period! (Up some 25% or more since August 2007, by a number of indices. So much for the growth explanation.

I suspect that the state of the dollar, weakened by the huge amount of debt, both public and private, our country has taken on under King George W. Bush, is the reason. The weak dollar is why OPEC’s profits, which are figured in dollars, aren’t as big as they seem — and it’s why there’s a big push to move OPEC to the euro instead. Propping up US debt is endangering other countries’ currency as well — and they’re not in a mind to prop us up any more, hence the efforts to “decouple” from our economy. Bush and his buddies were hoping the other countries would wait until after the Bush Gang left town with the spoils from their bust-out, but that’s not happening.

One thing is certain: The brief boost the market got from its archenemy Spitzer’s downfall is soon going to be a distant memory.

Posted in banking, big money, bust-outs, corruption, credit cards, economy, Eliot Spitzer, faith-based flim-flams, gravy train, greed, income inequality | 3 Comments »

Sunday Morning News Roundup

Posted by Phoenix Woman on February 24, 2008


— The Nation’s Nancy Cleeland: No, it’s not your imagination. The decades-long decline in the financial status of anyone not already at the top of the income heap (a decline that was seriously interrupted during the Clinton years, but started up again once Bush took over) has accelerated in the last year. No wonder that the British middle class does much better than ours. (Oh, and the rich are getting vastly richer while we lose ground.)

Dday describes Howard Dean’s most excellent takedown of serial liar John McCain.

Robert Parry: “In 1976, when George H.W. Bush was CIA director, the U.S. government tolerated right-wing terrorist cells inside the United States and mostly looked the other way when these killers topped even Palestinian terrorists in spilling blood, including a lethal car bombing in Washington, D.C., according to newly obtained internal government documents.” Why? Because the masterminds were U.S.-based right-wing Cuban exiles with whom Bush’s CIA was working, that’s why.

Posted in Bush, Bush Family Evil Empire, BushCo malfeasance, capitalism as cancer, Cuba, economy, income inequality, John McCain, liars, Republicans, Republicans acting badly, rightwing moral cripples, Silly Republicans, terrorism | 1 Comment »

A Nice And Accurate Description Of Conservatism And Republicanism

Posted by Phoenix Woman on February 11, 2008

Lance said it, I believe it, that settles it (h/t Avedon as Not Atrios):

If the Government is a car setting out to give every one a ride to work, then for 40 years the Republicans have been puncturing the tires, pouring sand in the gas tank, stealing the distributor cap, and, whenever they can get their hands on the wheel, driving it straight into the nearest ditch and then, pointing to the wreckage as the tow truck backs up to it, saying, See, this proves that people were meant to walk. And they do this so that they don’t have to chip in on gas.

Posted in 'starving the beast', (Rich) Taxpayers League, big money, Bush, Bush Family Evil Empire, BushCo malfeasance, Busheviks, capitalism as cancer, conservativism, corruption, cronies, income inequality, infrastructure | 1 Comment »

Robert Greenwald Has A Message For Us On MLK Day

Posted by Phoenix Woman on January 21, 2008

And it goes like this:

Today we honor Dr. King’s birthday. We all know him because of his historic impact on civil rights, but many don’t realize that later in life he fought just as passionately for the rights of workers and against the entrenched institutions of injustice.

“Equality means dignity. And dignity demands a job and a paycheck that lasts through the week.”

The War on Greed is exactly this kind of fight. The livelihoods of families have been directly attacked by the actions of buyout billionaires like Henry Kravis putting Wall Street’s special interests ahead of his 800,000 employees… and pocketing $51,000 an hour in the process.

Dear presidential candidates,

Buyout industry executives with multi-million dollar incomes have been exploiting a tax loophole that allows them to pay a lesser tax percentage rate than most of the workers in the companies they manage. This is a disgrace!

Make a pledge, if elected, that you will work to close the buyout industry’s tax loopholes.

Posted in (Rich) Taxpayers League, capitalism as cancer, economy, gravy train, greed, income inequality, infrastructure | Comments Off on Robert Greenwald Has A Message For Us On MLK Day

Dean Baker Speaks.

Posted by Phoenix Woman on December 27, 2007

You listen:

Denmark Suffers From Too Many Jobs

That’s the word from the NYT. According to the article people are fleeing Denmark because of its 63 percent top marginal tax rate. The net rate of departure is supposedly 1000 people per year, approximately 0.002 percent of the population. The article tells us that this net rate actually masks a more rapid rate of departure of high-skilled people, who are being replaced by less-educated workers.

The article presents little evidence that the economy is suffering from this exodus. Denmark currently has a 3.6 percent unemployment rate. Its economy is projected to grow by 3.5 percent in 2007.


In terms of sustainability, Denmark has a budget surplus of more than 2 percent of GDP (equivalent to $280 billion a year in the U.S.) and a debt to GDP ratio of around 26 percent. Its current account surplus is also in excess of 2 percent of GDP.

In short, if Denmark is suffering because a relatively small number of highly educated workers find the tax rate too high, there is not much evidence in the data.

Foolish mortal! Everyone knows that low tax rates, especially on the rich, are the keys to prosperity! Just look at the economic powerhouses of Alabama and Mississippi! Uh, on second thought, don’t look at them.

Posted in 'starving the beast', budget, capitalism as cancer, economy, income inequality, infrastructure, media, Media machine, mediawhores | 1 Comment »

This Shouldn’t Surprise You If You’ve Been Paying Attention

Posted by Phoenix Woman on December 16, 2007

Rich get massively richer under Bush.  The rest of us?  Not so much — in fact, we wound up giving our money to them:

Earlier this week, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) updated its authoritative data series on household incomes (1979-2005).  The new data—highly regarded as a particularly complete source of information on this important topic—reveal a sharp increase in income inequality over the past few years.  In fact, the increase in income inequality (both pre- and post-tax) as measured by the change in the shares of income going to different income classes, was greater from 2003 to 2005 than over any other two-year period covered by the CBO data.  Over these years, an amazing $400 billion in pre-tax dollars was shifted from the bottom 95% of households to those in the top 5% (all income data in this report are inflation adjusted and in 2005 dollars).  In other words, had income shares not shifted as they did, the income of each of the 109 million households in the bottom 95% would have been $3,660 higher in 2005.

But of course if anybody talks about taxing the upper five percent, all hell breaks loose.

Posted in income inequality, infrastructure, taxes | 3 Comments »

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