Monday, October 31, 2011

Eric Cantor would have us believe we all have an equal chance at having significant wealth

...but it looks to me more and more like the wealthy have a strangle hold on the means to become wealthy.

Just take a look at this chart from a WSJBlog post (

The bottom 60 percent of households actually had less wealth in 2009 than in 1983, meaning they did not participate at all in the growth of wealth over this period.
Eric Cantor would have us believe that anyone who is wealthy is so because they worked harder and are smarter than the rest of us. This is undoubtedly true of some.
But consider these factors that can skew the distribution of wealth:

  • The rich are able to influence government disproportionately in their favor thereby increasing their wealth (tax policies that shift the burden to middle and lower income tax payers; deregulation of the financial sector). The Citizens United decision has amplified this factor.
  • Being rich can lead to being given high income jobs regardless of merit (also large bonuses, golden parachutes, etc)
  • Being rich means spending a smaller percentage of income on everyday necessities and being able to save/invest more
  • Wealth can be inherited; the wealthy can afford to send their children to elite schools which lead to higher paying jobs for them
It looks like most of us are becoming more realistic about our chances of becoming millionaires. (

But  becoming millionaires isn't really what most of us aspire to.  Most of us aspire to living in a country where we all have jobs that allow us to live comfortably; where everyone's children get a good education; where those who are down on their luck get a helping hand; where health care is affordable and of good quality; where those who have worked all their lives are secure in their retirement years; and where the air we breathe, water we drink and food we eat will sustain our health. This is what the current political situation in the US has put in jeopardy.

Involved Voters will tell Eric Cantor and like-minded Republicans we aren't buying his solutions - more of the same policies that have fostered the shift in wealth and have damaged the fabric of our country.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Holding the US Financial Sector Accountable

Did you know that the 2008 financial meltdown was 70 times bigger than the Savings & Loan crisis of the 1980's and 90's?  But, so far, prosecutions for fraud are practically non-existent.  The people at the top of the financial institutions appear to be experiencing no negative consequences for their actions. Should they be held accountable just as those responsible for the S&L crisis were?

I recommend listening to this October 18 broadcast of the Onpoint radio program, Prosecuting Financial Titans. It helped me understand the situation and what can be done about it - if Involved Voters make their voices heard.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Understanding the "Occupy" Movement - Income Inequality

This NYT article about income inequality is worth reading in full. Here are some key points.
According to the C.I.A.’s own ranking of countries by income inequality, the United States is more unequal a society than either Tunisia or Egypt.

Three factoids underscore that inequality:
  • The 400 wealthiest Americans have a greater combined net worth than the bottom 150 million Americans.
  • The top 1 percent of Americans possess more wealth than the entire bottom 90 percent.
  • In the Bush expansion from 2002 to 2007, 65 percent of economic gains went to the richest 1 percent.
As ...Catherine Rampell noted a few days ago, in 1981, the average salary in the securities industry in New York City was twice the average in other private sector jobs. At last count, in 2010, it was 5.5 times as much. (In case you want to gnash your teeth, the average is now $361,330.)
More broadly, there’s a growing sense that lopsided outcomes are a result of tycoons’ manipulating the system, lobbying for loopholes and getting away with murder. Of the 100 highest-paid chief executives in the United States in 2010, 25 took home more pay than their company paid in federal corporate income taxes, according to the Institute for Policy Studies.
This degree of income inequality is damaging our democracy. What we're seeing is government bought by rich people and corporate "people" and focused on their interests to the detriment of the public good.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Could This Be What Occupy Wall Street is About?

Leave it to Elizabeth Warren, consumer advocate and candidate for Senate, to explain why asking the rich to contribute more makes sense.

Is it clear now?