Tuesday, April 08, 2008

And Then There's George

Ill: Wizard of Whimsy
The Neo-Cons' Extravagant, Unbridled Resurrection of a Neo-Gilded Age
The New York Times, in the wake of an unprecedented rescue of Bear Stearns at taxpayer expense and amidst a worldwide economic meltdown, asks the question again: why do plainly incompetent robber barons take home outlandish pay packages and bonuses even while their companies post losses, and the uneveness of wealth distribution grows ever more glaring ~ the current disparity between the very rich and the very poor has reached a level not seen in this country since the late 1800's. Guess when that was? The so-called Gilded Age of very rich people who got that way by very frequently exploiting the very poor. (E.g. when women and children did piecework in sweatshops and were often trapped and died when the buildings caught fire)?
That was in the bad old days before we had unions, the eight-hour day, and things like that. Just a reminder in case you're too young or too busy to remember America's social history. Flash forward to today--we've outsourced the sweatshops along with other business, so we don't have that sort of stuff happening on our shores anymore, but we are still the buyers of those products, and we don't have a lot of jobs left in this country.
Your Demon notes it because she's long been warning of the extreme social engineering policies pursued by the man pictured above. What's occurring now in the never-ending gravy train of bailouts is the implementation of a public policy that privatizes profits and socializes losses ~ leaving you, the taxpayer, holding the bag while the robber barons churn markets and run up illusory profits while adding nothing but wave after wave of popping bubbles. For this they should be rewarded? Seriously.
Ah well ~
* * *
"It’s hard to square the conceit that chief executives are rewarded for improving companies’ performance with the fact that chiefs at 10 financial-services firms in the study made $320 million last year, even as their banks reported mortgage-related losses of $55 billion.
"Meanwhile, the average earnings of typical workers have failed to keep up with inflation in four of the past five years. According to the economists Emmanuel Saez of the University of California, Berkeley, and Thomas Piketty of the Paris School of Economics, average incomes in the highest-earning 1 percent of the United States grew 11 percent year-over-year between 2002 and 2006. Incomes in the bottom 99 percent grew by 0.9 percent annually over the period. This year looks bad, too.
"This polarization is producing a pattern of income distribution rarely seen outside Africa or Latin America, and unheard of in the United States, at least since the gilded age. In 2006, the 15,000 families in the top 0.01 percent of the income distribution — earning at least $10.7 million apiece — pocketed 3.48 percent of the nation’s total income, double their share in 1993.
"Some analysts argue that the spectacular rise in executive pay is to be expected in a marketplace in which bigger and bigger firms compete for talent. Others suggest it has more to do with the ability of chief executives to manipulate their boards to set their own pay.
In any case, the combination of inexorable income growth at the very apex of society and stagnation everywhere else can serve no public good.
"The Bush administration has focused its economic policies on cutting taxes for the very richest Americans. Taxation needs urgently to become more progressive. If the United States is to continue to embrace globalization, technological innovation and other forces that contribute to economic growth, it has to share the spoils better."
Thanks, GOP, for taking us back to "the good old days~"



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