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Senseless Numbers

I know I’ve been an inconstant blogger, but I feel I must share this news today. We all know it, but we should look at these numbers every chance we get.

The top-earning 20 percent of Americans – those making more than $100,000 each year – received 49.4 percent of all income generated in the U.S., compared with the 3.4 percent earned by those below the poverty line, according to newly released census figures. That ratio of 14.5-to-1 was an increase from 13.6 in 2008 and nearly double a low of 7.69 in 1968.

A different measure, the international Gini index, found U.S. income inequality at its highest level since the Census Bureau began tracking household income in 1967. The U.S. also has the greatest disparity among Western industrialized nations.”

Don’t worry, if income inequality doesn’t bother you, other bad news.

The poverty gap between young and old has doubled since 2000, due partly to the strength of Social Security in helping buoy Americans 65 and over. Child poverty is now 21 percent compared with 9 percent for older Americans. In 2000, when child poverty was at 16 percent, elderly poverty stood at 10 percent.

Obviously it’s good that a smaller percentage of older Americans is poor now, but with the first baby boomers turning 65 next year, how long will that trend last? Also, more than 1 in 5 children are impoverished? Not good. Ye olde land of milk and honey is not so much, is it? I sure hope the Republicans manage to save tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, they’re obviously really suffering.

11 Comments

  1. Tina Stephens

    September 28, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    What is this obsession you folks have with disparities in income ? I’m now making $ 100,000 a year as a physician, but I can assure you that I am not living a luxurious lifestyle. I have over $ 200,000 in student loans to pay back which is a huge monthly amount for a long time in the future. I work long hours, trying to afford a house and drive an old car. Should I be punished for going to school all that time, and be forced to pay for someone who chose not to do anything with his life ? Nothing was ever given to me. I just don’t understand your reasoning.

  2. old social worker

    September 28, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    Perhaps Dr. Stephens would be more sympathetic to financial disparity if she considered how many millionaires and billionaires manage to pay taxes at rates laughably close to hers.

    Perhaps she might also consider how many insurance hacks with training and knowledge inferior to hers make more money than she from the labors of her and others like her.

    If she thinks deeply, she might even appreciate that someone or something at some point gave her something, for it’s impossible to live among others without enjoying their gifts.

  3. Andrea Verykoukis

    September 28, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    First, apologies to Rob because I see he posted this same piece earlier.

    Second, how nauseating to see the ignoble “poor people sit on their butts and do nothing” monster rear its ugly head. Dr. S, of course you should be compensated for being a doctor, but shouldn’t people who do essential, if rote, work be compensated too? Should we all train to be doctors when ditches will ever need digging, roads surfacing, toilets cleaning? Would you describe teachers as people “who chose not to do anything” with their lives because they’re not highly paid? It’s hard for me to believe that in this economy an educated person would actually assert that only the shiftless are suffering, that income doesn’t really matter. As for nothing ever being given to you, clearly a sizable student loan was at some point.

  4. rote worker

    September 29, 2010 at 9:16 am

    We all have choices to make in life Andrea. Some choose to risk their future by using loans to get educated and then work 16 hours a day to create a lifestyle they would like, some get an education and then work 8 hours a day to “get by” and some work 16 hours a day with an equal education -just to get by. I happen to be one of those, and I do what I Love. But I would NEVER allow someone who happened to make choices, or have opportunities that created more incomefor them to pay my way. People have different jobs, lives, incomes, looks and intelligence. Why on earth does anyone feel like the doctors, lawyers, businessmen, or millionaires “owe” them anything? It is the right of every American to get educated, we have public schools and numerous resources at our disposal if we choose to use them. What we do with those resources is our choice. Certainly none of these billionaires and millionaires that you and the old social worker speak of owe anyone anything for being sucessful in their choices. (Many of them DO give substantially – but that is again, their choice.)

  5. Tothepoint

    September 29, 2010 at 10:24 am

    Dr. Stephens. You are to be congratulated for your persistence and hard work in accomplishing a very difficult goal. You may not understand Andrea’s reasoning because it is the reasoning of a socialist point of view. In that world, 8 hours of work is equally comparable. In other words, why should a doctor’s hour be worth more than the ditch digger.
    People like Andrea do not understand proportionality of effort or time. When it comes to the fruit of one’s labor, they only look at the fruit and not the labor. They complain bitterly that one person’s fruit is bigger than another’s. To them its not fair.
    To them, the harder you work to better yourself financially, the less you deserve of that extra fruit.
    To Andrea, people should not have more than they need (as determined in the minds and opinions like Andrea), nor should they have less than everyone else.
    We have seen this concept before, it was called communism and socialism. It was the basic principal in country’s such as the Soviet Union and East Germany (opps, they no longer exist).
    They very reason this country is as great as it is, the very reason that so many people have been able to transform their lives from abject poverty to prosperity is because people are allowed to benefit from the fruits of their labor.

  6. Tothepoint

    September 29, 2010 at 10:42 am

    Andrea. It was with great interest that I read your percentage summaries.

    Here are so more (courtesy of the Burlington Times News editorial 9/28/2010) which points out the ever increasing culture of dependency that is feed by the progressive agenda.

    The debate is about what is a helping hand (which I believe everyone supports) and what is a handout.

    44.4% of households receive some form of government support.

    45% of households pay no federal income tax (up from 39% in 2005).

    13% pay neither income nor payroll (Medicare/SS).

    Each year, a greater burden is being placed (forced?) on a smaller group of citizens who are the creators of wealth.

    Government does not create wealth. Its spends wealth.

    Obviously some households experience situations and circumstances which are beyond their control. That is what help is for.

    Unfortunately, some households, by their own actions and decisions, find themselves in situations and circumstances which were in their control.

    Progressives, who always see the world as unfair, unjust, and unequal, can not (or choose not) to see the difference.
    Another important statistic. The top 3% of income earners pay 52% of all federal taxes. They are responsible of most of the savings and investments which drive the capital into businesses that create the jobs and opportunities that allow people to better themselves.

  7. Alex Morris

    September 29, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    You echo my sentiments exactly, Tothepoint .

  8. Jeff Shaw

    September 29, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    The title of the post is “Senseless Numbers,” and it applies very well to the numbers cited in the previous comment.

    The reason income inequality is spiking and more people need public assistance is because a series of brutal policies over eight years crushed the economic hopes of the American middle class.

    When you have more impoverished people and more rich people, of course the rich pay a greater percentage of tax revenues: the poor are completely broke and the middle class are rapidly becoming an endangered species.

    This doesn’t mean the rich aren’t doing better than ever, because they are. They got huge tax cuts which enhanced their total wealth.

    We have a name, incidentally, for countries with no middle class. Third World Countries. Unless that’s what we want, we’d best get to business fixing this problem.

    It’s also totally false that government action doesn’t generate wealth. Government generates all kinds of capital, human and otherwise, through vital public investment in people and infrastructure.

  9. Alex Morris

    September 29, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    Pull the string, and you get the same senseless argument !

  10. Tothepoint

    September 29, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    Jeff. What is senseless is when NC Policy Watch states that North Carolina would “win” if federal taxes are allowed to go up because then state taxes would go up. That is really some corrupted logic. But then again that’s a progressive point of view.

    It has been liberal/progressive policies over the past 30 to 40 years that have been brutal on the great American economic machine and the opportunity to build upon the middle class. Policies that encourage and promote dependency and a lack of individual responsibility & accountability.

    And with progressive policies creating more dependency, that’s how you quickly become a third world country.

    Its much like the health care debate (debacle). Progressives demand the right for everyone to have full health care, but there is no corresponding demand for personal health responsibility. Do what you want, don’t worry about paying for the consequences, we will make someone else pay for it. Its your right because your the victim.

    So those with the poorest health habits, who contribute the least (if any), will cost the most. The same is true in most other cases. Those with the poorest individual responsibility habits are often the ones who demand the most from the system. The progressive dependency has created the victim mentality.

    There has been no greater nation on this earth that has afforded the opportunity to move oneself from poverty to prosperity than Here. That has been true for the last eight, thirty, 230+ years.

    While there have certainly been bumps along the way, it clearly is the best. The answer is not more taxes. The answer is more individual responsibility. Without it, no amount of money will cure the problems you see.

  11. [...] last post on income inequality was so much fun, I thought I’d do another. It’s not the same old [...]