As we discuss our various financial concerns with friends and neighbors, it might be well to reflect on some details that have influenced the current economic situation.
In the era from 1947 to 1979 all classes of Americans saw their incomes grow together. We are now in a new era in which the wealthiest have realized a significantly greater growth in income. From 1979 to 2008, according to census data, the middle 20 percent of Americans saw their incomes grow only 11 percent, compared with a 111 percent growth in the previous 30 years. Meanwhile, the poorest 20 percent of Americans saw their incomes actually decrease by 7 percent, compared with a 118 percent growth in the previous 30 years. Since the 1980 election, and the tax cuts that ensued, America's top 1 percent have seen their incomes increase by 275 percent.
Today, workers' wages as a percentage of GDP are at an all-time low. Yet corporate profits as a percentage of GDP are at an all-time high. The top 1 percent of Americans own 40 percent of the nation's wealth. In fact, just 400 Americans own more wealth than 150 million other Americans combined.
This economic inequality translates into a change from a representative democracy into a "corporatocracy," and thanks to a 5-4 ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States, we no longer have a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people," but a government "of the corporations, by the corporations, and for the corporations" that has been put into place by the lobbyists who have been employed by these corporations.
As concerned members of the American society, we need to reach out to our friends and neighbors, and urge them to become informed and involved in taking actions that result in the recovery of the middle class. Most of us, however, continue the grand delusion. We prefer to be spoon-fed comfortable ideological anachronisms while debating the symptoms of inequality with little or no relation to the underlying cause.
In the months ahead that lead up to our opportunity to elect new representatives, let's seek out candidates who will aggressively stand up for the American values that result in a government with a moral mission; to protect and empower all citizens equally. Perhaps they will rediscover the policies from the past that allowed for a successful middle class.