04 November 2011
Alligator Sunglasses has been sharing the occasional cookie monster and/or muppet, so let's lead with that. You could get it from there if you wanted to. Or here. Whatever.
If you're of a mind you might browse through this editorial from the New York Times:
Or this one from the blog's favorite economist, Paul Krugman, who explains why you live in an oligarchy (for a concrete example, see above):
The budget office report tells us that essentially all of the upward redistribution of income away from the bottom 80 percent has gone to the highest-income 1 percent of Americans. That is, the protesters who portray themselves as representing the interests of the 99 percent have it basically right, and the pundits solemnly assuring them that it’s really about education, not the gains of a small elite, have it completely wrong.
If anything, the protesters are setting the cutoff too low. The recent budget office report doesn’t look inside the top 1 percent, but an earlier report, which only went up to 2005, found that almost two-thirds of the rising share of the top percentile in income actually went to the top 0.1 percent — the richest thousandth of Americans, who saw their real incomes rise more than 400 percent over the period from 1979 to 2005.
Who’s in that top 0.1 percent? Are they heroic entrepreneurs creating jobs? No, for the most part, they’re corporate executives. Recent research shows that around 60 percent of the top 0.1 percent either are executives in nonfinancial companies or make their money in finance, i.e., Wall Street broadly defined. Add in lawyers and people in real estate, and we’re talking about more than 70 percent of the lucky one-thousandth.
But why does this growing concentration of income and wealth in a few hands matter? Part of the answer is that rising inequality has meant a nation in which most families don’t share fully in economic growth. Another part of the answer is that once you realize just how much richer the rich have become, the argument that higher taxes on high incomes should be part of any long-run budget deal becomes a lot more compelling.
So that's fun.
On the subject of executive pay: my friend's company they announced that they were eliminating 401k matching. (Fair enough. I was surprised they still had it in these tough times.) What they didn't announce was that they were pushing through a generous bonus package for the executives ON THE SAME DAY as the announcement. For example, her boss got $50,000. No idea what the CEO and the rest got, but you can bet it was a hell of a lot more than that.
Why is it so hard to raise taxes on such a small number of people? It's absurd.