the income gap widens in america

According to new data released by the IRS, the income gap in America is widening. In fact, the gap is wider now that it’s been since WWII, when the American middle class was born. Here’s a clip from the “Wall Street Journal”:

…The wealthiest 1% of Americans earned 21.2% of all income in 2005, according to new data from the Internal Revenue Service. That is up sharply from 19% in 2004, and surpasses the previous high of 20.8% set in 2000, at the peak of the previous bull market in stocks.

The bottom 50% earned 12.8% of all income, down from 13.4% in 2004 and a bit less than their 13% share in 2000…

The middle class is what made the United States great, and we’re allowing it to slowly erode. I challenge anyone to spin that as a positive.

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  1. Edwards Fan
    Posted October 15, 2007 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    It may not be in our lifetime, but class war is coming. Study your history.

  2. edweird
    Posted October 15, 2007 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, that would only work if Joe American couldn’t watch the next episode of (place shitty television show name here). If the TV died, then they’d get pissed.

  3. Ol' E Cross
    Posted October 15, 2007 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    Spin to a positive … okay, soon the middle class won’t be able to afford bottled water (or much of anything else), and there’s only so much water the rich can physically drink, so less consumption and less waste.

    Really, Mark, I thought you wanted to stop global warming? Don’t look a gift-horse in the mouth.

  4. trying harder
    Posted October 15, 2007 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    I now live in a “merit-based” world. If I go way over and above expectations in my work, I will qualify for a merit-based raise. This is not a cost of living world, or let’s raise the salary to attract a better field of candidates world, or let’s rake the profits off the top world. And the cable guy cut me off, or realized they had not filtered me well enough, their error in my favor, but it is over, sigh. So enough whining, I’d rather be reading my (library) book anyway.
    Hasn’t New York reached some gilded pinnacle of late?

  5. egpenet
    Posted October 15, 2007 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    I am confident that change will occur in Michigan’s financial picture. Why? Because of a lot of “gobbeldy-gook” economic stuff … which, in short, is proving that deviations from standard distributions are occuring so fast in financial markets, much faster than even the pace of technological change.

    Cycles are shorter and shorter, more severe and quite unpredictable. The guy that sold you the mutual fund and promised an average of 11% growth flat out lied. He didn’t know any better, even with his MBA.

    With states, counties, cities and school systems bprrowing … with us borrowing … the risks are getting greater and the path is getting clearer toward severe times … severe ups … severe downs.

    Inflating by the Fed and taximg the bejezus out of us locally is not going to change the fact. If you think Jennifer’s tax plans are too much of a burden, wait till the Dems win in 2008.

    Whether the city tax passes or not, let’s rethink every line item, every service, every need and reinvent Ypsilanti as a city … staff, salaries, retirements … everything.

    To make up for things that still need doing, perhaps we need to do some of those things ourselves … asking businesses to sweep in front of their own stores, bending down to pick up trash as we walk along our streets, obeying the leash laws and picking up our pet’s crap. And hundreds of other things.

    Want more than what we can afford with taxes? Do it yourself … ourselves, together. There’s much, much more. Living in Ypsilanti is NOT an entitlement.

    Further, those who do not contribute, or who make life difficult for the rest of us, or who break the law should be dealt with with a clear finality. We need to be rid of those folk … or better yet … find better ways than prison, welfare and ghetto apartments to bring them into the Ypsilanti community so they can contribute … IN or OUT.

    The Sheriff won’t take’em … so it’s up to us to deal with our own … preferably by getting them into the rhythm of things around here … an Ypsi CCC, perhaps, some alternative that really gives them a taste of self-respect and duty. Can’t we invent alternatives to prison and give young people hope!

    Real basic social change is due here and we have an opportunity to shake it up during this trying time rather than paper it up with virtually worthless dollats. That’s the financial crux, actually, the dollar buys so little that we have to keep Bernacke up all night printing the stuff to give to Jennifer in the morning.

    Sheesh! Thinking caps on folks?

    OK. Been listening to NPR this week? They are back making their pleas. You listen … you should contribute. Pay for use. Hmmm.

    How about Ypsi Bonds? I take equity from my home and buy a $1000, $5000, $10,000 Ypsi Bond and help the city refinance its debt and a fair but below market rate. How’bout that? Better than an income tax. If the city can borrow, why not borrow from us?

    The difference in interest (what I have to pay back minus what I get from the city) is my sacrifice for the city. And do it longer term, let’s give Ypsi ten years, not four.

    Need help around town? Send out a skills inventory to every registered voter. Within 30 days, we’d have a pool of potential skills to use to keep things rolling one way or the other for a long time. Ask for a minimum of 12 up to 24 hours per week. If someone can do more, offer them a rebate on their property tax or income tax (god forbid) for every hour over the minimum.

    This would be a great thing for the minor criminal element to get them off of the streets and into the alleys to cleanup the place, or sdupervise parks or do foot patrol or fix-up/paint-up at senior housing or public housing … getting them back into the Ypsi family.

    I DO rant, but we gotta think outta the box and those are a few softballs to toss around. I know some businesses downtown that need interns for sales, office and other stuff. Perhaps the Chamber or DDA could help fund a very modest intership grant for downtown businesses, so we could supplement intern pay and get dignity moving through the streets. Skills build wills.

    Enough for now. G’night.

  6. terrygilmer
    Posted October 15, 2007 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

    Whenever they cancel America’s Next Top Model I’m buying lots of guns and canned goods.

  7. Union Household
    Posted October 15, 2007 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    Well shucks, when the big shots get 10% annual raises on their already bloated incomes, and everyone else either gets nothing or has to fight for a lousy 2%, it’s no dam wonder that the gap widens. Too bad unionism is on the decline or we wouldn’t see quite so much of this. Unfortunately, it will take another major depression to reverse this trend.

  8. MCNB
    Posted October 15, 2007 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

    You cannot have a good market for used yachts if you don’t have a large new market. (Does a rising tide lift all boats?)

  9. stella
    Posted October 16, 2007 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    Weak Analogy

  10. Robert
    Posted October 16, 2007 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    MCNB, I’m slow. Was that a joke?

  11. oliva
    Posted October 16, 2007 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    And while we’re at it doing some of those good things that egpenet suggested, there’s another thing we need to keep working on and boldly: on Sunday morning households along Hamilton, Olive, and Huron–not sure where else–awoke to find on their stoops and their front sidewalks a rolled-up two-page message of hate from an organization out of St. Pete, FL. Disgusting and awful two pages of racist slime. The police went and gathered up the tainted pages, and one can only hope that most went directly to the recycle bin.

    Today in Bob Herbert’s NYT op-ed he talks about ending the cycle of violence and poverty within the African-American community. Here’s a line or two, fitting for this post:

    The book [Come On, People: On the Path from Victims to Victors by Bill Cosby and Alvin Poussaint] covers a great deal that has been talked about incessantly — the importance of family and education and hard work and mentoring and civic participation. But hand in hand with its practical advice and the undercurrent of deep love for one’s community is a stress on the absolute importance of maintaining one’s personal dignity and self-respect.

    It’s a tough book. Victimhood is cast as the enemy. Defeat, failure and hopelessness are not to be tolerated.

    Hard times and rough circumstances are not excuses for degrading others or allowing oneself to be degraded. In fact, they’re not excuses for anything, except to try harder.

    and this:

    Racism disgusts me, and I think it should be fought with much greater ferocity than we see today.

    Right on, right on.

  12. egpenet
    Posted October 16, 2007 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    I ranted on the Conan Smith thread and ended up apologizing for it. I meant the apology. I simply got too emotional.

    We are sitting on an economic powder keg of world debt … bank runs in England … new debt financing announced today by Citi, etc. to buy the “bad” debt in the subprime market … billions a week in Iraq off the budget … and the first baby boomer from 1946 got her check of depreciated US dollars.

    At the other end of the spectrum, as the GM and Chrysler workers are giving inches and GM and Chrysler execs are running to the bank … Ypsilanti points fingers at the County and the Sheriff … they point fingers at the State … and Jennifer cries about Federal cuts.

    All of the above are getting paid in the meantime, mind you, as are the DDA people, Public Housing people, VCB, Chamber, etc. … and nothing changes.

    It’s a waiting game … business as usual (because it pays us well) … until we all go down the tubes … it’s wait and see.

    We have an opportunity in Washington, Lansing and Ypsilanti to make substantive changes in how we govern, how we finance life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness … but there is no voice, no leadership, no imagination, not even any good taste … the majority of the fascades and signage in Ypsilanti are just plain low class.

    I predict the Fed will lower rates in the months ahead … to zero if they have to, which will ignite inflation … and Freddie Mac/Sallie Mae will pick up the slack in the mortgage markets, which will actually add debt to debt … and the Democrats will win in 2008 and raise taxes up the yingyang, which will compound the bubble.

    The hedge funds betting on a serious recession are making money on the financial futures markets by the bushel.

    And so … can we not pause here in Ypsilanti, knowing what may be on the horizon? (As we should have paused years ago, knowing Motor Wheel, Ford, were closing their doors … which is when we had money in the bank.) Can we not pause now and rethink and then redesign this town to make it a city that will continue to work in the weeeeks and months and years to come. It CANNOT continue to be papered over with tax monies.


  13. Sean Stidd
    Posted October 18, 2007 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    Woo hoo! We’ve undone the effects of the GI Bill! Get rid of Social Security and Medicare and the New Deal will be OVER, baby! And if we get rid of a woman’s right to vote, as Ann Coulter advocates, we will have realized the ideal implicit in George Will’s definition of conservatism: rolling back the WHOLE TWENTIETH CENTURY! w00t! Back to the salt mines, plebes!

    Or we could wake up from this nightmare and start voting for liberal Democrats again instead…

  14. egpenet
    Posted October 19, 2007 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    In addition to rights, citizens have duties … serve on a jury when called, voting, service in defense of the country, and paying taxes. An extension of services and taxes is an inferred duty of oversight and an obligation to speak up/act out in defense of the common good.

    No one is rolling up the sidewalks, but it matters NOT if the Republicans, Democrats or Independents are elected. They are all politicians seeking adulation, power and financial security for themselves.

    ALL of them require citizen oversight and are, by law, subject to either recall, impeachment or ouster at election time. As indiviual citizens, they are also subject to the canon of law.

    The SCIT is organized against the income tax. Looking back in time, they recount the failure of city councils to plan, cut spending and save, having had ample warning of the doom and gloom GM, Ford, Motor Wheel and thee general manufacturing economy was going to have on our area.

    Others of us support the SCIT effort by looking forward asking that we look at the processes, personnel, and very nature of city government and make some changes.

    Why can’t we mainstream our poorer and/or older citizens in need and get them out of enclaves (ghettos) known as public housing? We have a lot of rental housing stock available and decentralizing poverty and crime works in most cities to raise people rather than condemn them to a no-class distinction.

    Oh, well, those folks don’t have jobs. Let’s organize an Ypsilanti CCC which REQUIRES all citizens, including high school students, to put in a minimum of 8 hours a week at a job that matches their skill level … cleaning parks and sidewalks weekly, cleaning up after events or storms, etc. and earn minimum wage from the city and/or the evnt sponsors.

    Adult citizens who need paying jobs and who can put in 8 hours a day or more per week, get a flat $8/hour. Matched to their skills … they can clean city hall, do “go-fer” jobs at the DPW, clean up the river, get trained at the citizens police academy and patrol … any number of other jobs.

    Higher skilled people can be offered temporary intern assignments at various local businesses who need temporary help … paid at whatever level by those businesses. No better way to break into a new industry and get experience than as an intern.

    Speaking of skill levels … the D.A.Y. has gathered a list of all local businesses for its marketing and programming involvement activities. How’bout a skills inventory of the residents of Ypsilanti who have art, craft, metal working, sculptural, sewing, etc. skills. With that inventory in-hand, then let’s do what North Carolina did and create our own Ypsilanti arts and crafts tourism industry. RAC is step one … the Shadow Art Fair is step two … Gallery 555 was step three but the city killed it … so we move on to arts/crafts inventory of skills which becomes the new step three. The foundation is already in place, let’s get this one done.

    Did I mention the fine arts? Theatrical arts? Musical arts? I have already contacted Mark Higbee who has already spoken to Don Loppnow about getting Peasee into the venue circuit for UMS performances. THAT done, I have rounded up a couple local businesses and the three RAC resident theatrical companies to sponsor a S.E. lower Michigan original one-act playwrighting contest … details to come.

    Music, anyone? Talk has continued to build for a Michigan Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The Crossroads Music Festival was a great success this year and will grow next year. Would someone donate a concert grand to the RAC so we could have REAL recitals there? We need a fourth … musical theatre company at the RAC, by the way.

    All of these ideas are about bringing tourism dollars, providing jobs, building the population … and increasing tax collections.

    Gosh … Ypsilanti History … where are the monthly tour buses? Where the heck are the tour guides? Did I miss them this month? (Somebody else does that, I’m told … about once a year … and they come through here.) Let’s build that frequency, join forces, and/or do it bigger and better ourselves. Do we have the ear of the VCB? Certianly our greatest resources are the properties themselves, the HDC, the Historic Foundation, Historic Museum and Archives and the Historic Preservation Program at EMU … hello! (Speaking of lights under bushel baskets).

    Enough for now. Hopefully this goes onto Google today. I have to get to Saline and save an 1840’s porch.


  15. Robert
    Posted October 23, 2007 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Yep, the income gap is getting wider than a Republican politicians bathroom stall stance.

  16. KT
    Posted October 23, 2007 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Wide stance? Did Luntz dream that up? Is it the new “big tent”? Are the Republicans to be the “Wide Stance” party?

    As for spinning the widening income gap as a positive, it’s easy. More super-rich means more philanthropy. The government shouldn’t be in the business of taking care of the poor. It should be in the business of creating wealth. The wealthy will then, in turn, take care of the poor. It’s all according to God’s plan.

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