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The game is completely rigged; The 1 percent has more than ever.

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Simon Reid-Henry, Salon

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http://www.nationofchange.org/sites/default/files/imagecache/article_main_image/americanliving122311.jpg  Sunday, Dec 27, 2015 | We have reached a crossroads in our history. For all the achievements and riches of our time, the world has never been so unequal or more unjust. A century ago, at the time of the First World War, the richest 20% of the world’s population earned eleven times more than the poorest 20%. By the end of the twentieth century they earned seventy-four times as much. Today, despite seven decades of international development, three decades of the Washington Consensus, and a decade and a half of Millennium Development Goals, our world is even more divided among the haves, the have-nots, and—as President George W. Bush once quipped in an after-dinner speech—the have-mores.

When it comes to wealth, rather than income, the picture is more extreme. Globally, the richest 1% now own nearly half of all the world’s wealth. The poorest 50% of the world, by contrast—fully 3 billion people—own less than 1% of its wealth. Anyone with assets of more than $10,000 a year is an exception to the global norm and is better off than 70% of everyone else alive. Yet most of us are so preoccupied by the relative few with more that we rarely stop to notice this. There is growing awareness today of the consequences in rich countries of rising income inequality: we know what it means to talk of the 1% there. But when it comes to the much greater gaps between rich and poor the world over, we confine ourselves still to talk of “global poverty.”

Simon Reid-Henry is a lecturer in the School of Geography at Queen Mary, University of London and a senior fellow at the Peace Research Institute, Oslo.

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Section(s): 

'You Cannot Build a Strong Economy on a Falling Wage Floor'

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  • Small businesses understand very well that workers are also consumers. If there’s not enough money in the wage base of the economy of the people they are hoping will come in and buy their goods and services, they feel that every day. 
  • So they believe very strongly that the workers should earn enough so that they can focus on the business, on the customer, and not be constantly worried about just how are they going to make ends meet, how are they going to make the rent and so on.

Janine Jackson, CounterSpin / FAIR 

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http://fair.org/new/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/HollySklar.jpgHolly Sklar: “Small businesses understand very well that workers are also consumers.” (image: BillMoyers.com)

Janine Jackson: Whether the federal minimum wage should be raised was the first question of the recent Republican presidential candidates’ debate. Unsurprisingly, the responses ranged from no to hell no, but given a media environment in which some pundits claim that there is no wage too low to pay someone, it’s significant that the question even came up.

When you think of the fight to raise the minimum wage, you might think of fast food workers who’ve been at the forefront of the Fight for $15 movement that’s put a higher wage on the agenda in places like Seattle and Los Angeles and here in New York. You don’t, most likely, think of business owners, as media’s standard presentation often pits business owners, with their eyes supposedly on profits, against workers looking to earn enough to live on.

Janine Jackson is FAIR’s program director and and producer/host of FAIR’s syndicated radio show CounterSpin. She contributes frequently to FAIR’s newsletter Extra!, and co-edited The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the ’90s (Westview Press). 

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Section(s): 

Social inequality and the disintegration of the American middle class

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  • The great majority of the population has experienced an unrelenting deterioration in income, benefits and conditions of life.
  • What Scott Walker’s Elimination Of Wisconsin’s Living Wage Law Means For Workers

David Walsh, World Socialist Website

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http://evergreenedigest.org/sites/evergreenedigest.org/files/Money%20Pie.jpg 12 December 2015 | The implications of the changes in American social life indicated by the findings recently published by the Pew Research Center on the sharp decline in the number of middle-income households are enormous. The data revealed that, by Pew’s definition, middle-income households for the first time no longer constituted the majority of American society.

The figures are remarkable. The share of the national wealth accruing to middle-income households, the study reported, was 43 percent in 2014, down from 62 percent in 1970. The median wealth of middle-income households has fallen by 28 percent over the past decade and a half. The share of income going to upper-income households has risen from 29 percent to 49 percent over the same period.

David Walsh: A full-time socialist journalist for 18 years, arts editor of the World Socialist Web Site since its launch in January 1998. A writer about film, the arts, as well as politics and history.

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Related:

What Scott Walker’s Elimination Of Wisconsin’s Living Wage Law Means For Workers, Bryce Covert, Think Progress

 

 

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  • “Prices have gone up, everything has gone up including rent, except the minimum wage,” Lisa Lucas, communications director for Wisconsin Jobs Now, said. And an analysis by her organization found that nearly 47 percent of the state’s workers make less than $15 an hour.
  • The Basic Income Movement

 

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Phishing for Phools: The Economics of Manipulation and Deception ~ George A. Akerlof & Robert J. Shiller

Phishing for Phools explores the central role of manipulation and deception in fascinating detail in each of these areas and many more. It thereby explains a paradox: why, at a time when we are better off than ever before in history, all too many of us are leading lives of quiet desperation. At the same time, the book tells stories of individuals who have stood against economic trickery—and how it can be reduced through greater knowledge, reform, and regulation.

Download Phishing for Phools

 

Section(s): 

Phishing for Phools: The Economics of Manipulation and Deception ~ George A. Akerlof & Robert J. Shiller

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  • Phishing for Phools explores the central role of manipulation and deception in fascinating detail in each of these areas and many more. It thereby explains a paradox: why, at a time when we are better off than ever before in history, all too many of us are leading lives of quiet desperation. At the same time, the book tells stories of individuals who have stood against economic trickery—and how it can be reduced through greater knowledge, reform, and regulation.
  • Download Phishing for Phools

Described in Princton University Press

http://press.princeton.edu/images/j10534.gif Ever since Adam Smith, the central teaching of economics has been that free markets provide us with material well-being, as if by an invisible hand. In Phishing for Phools, Nobel Prize–winning economists George Akerlof and Robert Shiller deliver a fundamental challenge to this insight, arguing that markets harm as well as help us. As long as there is profit to be made, sellers will systematically exploit our psychological weaknesses and our ignorance through manipulation and deception. Rather than being essentially benign and always creating the greater good, markets are inherently filled with tricks and traps and will "phish" us as "phools."

Phishing for Phools therefore strikes a radically new direction in economics, based on the intuitive idea that markets both give and take away. Akerlof and Shiller bring this idea to life through dozens of stories that show how phishing affects everyone, in almost every walk of life. We spend our money up to the limit, and then worry about how to pay the next month’s bills. The financial system soars, then crashes. We are attracted, more than we know, by advertising. Our political system is distorted by money. We pay too much for gym memberships, cars, houses, and credit cards. Drug companies ingeniously market pharmaceuticals that do us little good, and sometimes are downright dangerous.

George A. Akerlof, Co-Winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize in Economics and Robert J. Shiller, Co-Winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Economics

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Related:

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Time to Stop Worshipping Economic Growth

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  • To remain within the nine planetary boundaries, nations must shed the fetish of economic growth and transition to a true-cost, steady state economy.
  • From the Archives | 4 Pathways to Our Climate Future—Which Will We Choose?

Brent Blackwelder, The Daly News / Common Dreams

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http://www.commondreams.org/sites/default/files/planetary-boundaries.f.-pharand-deschenes-globaia.jpg Saturday, October 31, 2015 | There are physical limits to growth on a finite planet. In 1972, the Club of Rome issued their groundbreaking report—Limits to Growth (twelve million copies in thirty-seven languages). The authors predicted that by about 2030, our planet would feel a serious squeeze on natural resources, and they were right on target.

In 2009, the Stockholm Resilience Center introduced the concept of planetary boundaries to help the public envision the nature of the challenges posed by limits to growth and physical/biological boundaries. They defined nine boundaries critical to human existence that, if crossed, could generate abrupt or irreversible environmental changes.

Brent Blackwelder, a Ph.D., is president Emeritus of Friends of the Earth U.S., a national environmental organization dedicated to preserving the health and diversity of the planet for future generations.

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Related:

From the Archives | 4 Pathways to Our Climate Future—Which Will We Choose? Nicole D'Alessandro, EcoWatch <>

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  • What would the future look like if we took drastic action to cut emissions—or no action at all?
  • We can choose our own ending to this story. Which way will it go?
  • Top 20 ‘Dirty Denier$’ Who Accept Big Bucks from Big Polluters

Robert Reich | What Happened on My Tour Through Red State America

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  • The best way to learn is to talk with people who disagree with you.
  • The Continuing Middle Class Crisis
  • Dick Rowan | Putting the Con in Conservative

Robert Reich, RobertReich.org / AlterNet

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http://prodimage.images-bn.com/pimages/9780385350570_p0_v1_s192x300.jpg November 9, 2015 | I’ve just returned from three weeks in “red” America. It was ostensibly a book tour but I wanted to talk with conservative Republicans and Tea Partiers.

I intended to put into practice what I tell my students – that the best way to learn is to talk with people who disagree with you. I wanted to learn from red America, and hoped they’d also learn a bit from me (and perhaps also buy my book).

Robert Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few."

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Related:

Dick Rowan | Putting the Con in Conservative / memegenerator.net

He put the "Con" in conservative (and we fell for it)!

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The Continuing Middle Class Crisis, Compiled by David Culver, Ed., Evergreene Digest 

  • The people are fighting back and the elites recognize it. There is fear in the investor class as they see people organizing and mobilizing. Corporations are now investing more time and money in preparation to protect themselves from investor actions and legal challenges. The actions of corporations and governments against the people are a sign of their fear, and a sign of our unrealized strength.
  • Part 1: Goodbye Middle Class: 51 Percent Of All American Workers Make Less Than 30,000 Dollars A Year
  • Part 2: There Has Never Been an American “Middle Class”.

How Taxes Have Kept Wealth White

From the days of slavery to the 21st century rebirth of the poll tax, our tax system has been concentrating wealth at African-American expense, as legal scholar Andre Smith details in a timely new book.

Sam Pizzigati, Too Much

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http://toomuchonline.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/andre-smith2.jpg?bbed9e The recent state surge of “voter suppression” laws, notes the Delaware Law School’s Andre Smith, amounts to a reincarnation of the poll tax.

October 31, 2015 | The concept of institutional racism, thanks to the Black Lives Matter movement, is moving right onto America’s political center stage. The institution under the brightest spotlight? That has to be America’s criminal justice system. But considerable attention has also focused on other institutions as well, most notably education and the financial industry.

But one institution hardly ever comes to mind when talk turns to institutional racism: our tax system. Most of us simply do not think about racism when we think about taxes. Andre Smith does.

Sam Pizzigati, Editor, Too Much

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