Sunday, March 27, 2011

Bye-Bye American Pie–For 80% Of Us

The chart above is part of an article on the University of California at Santa Cruz's Sociology Department site, in which G. William Domhoff analyzed "Wealth, Income and Power" in the United States. Among the detailed findings about the nation's income inequality: it also results in extreme inequity in influence, a threat to democracy; the gap in the U.S. is quite large in comparison to other major countries; CEOs' income continues to rise as unions weaken and workers lose power:

...if the top 20% have 84% of the wealth (and recall that 10% have 85% to 90% of the stocks, bonds, trust funds, and business equity), that means that the United States is a power pyramid. It's tough for the bottom 80% -- maybe even the bottom 90% -- to get organized and exercise much power.

...the United States ends up 95th out of the 134 countries that have been studied -- that is, only 39 of the 134 countries have worse income inequality.

...There's a much deeper power story that underlies the self-dealing and mutual back-scratching by CEOs now carried out through interlocking directorates and seemingly independent outside consultants. ...on the workers' side, it reflects their loss of power following the all-out attack on unions in the 1960s and 1970... That decline in union power made possible and was increased by both outsourcing at home and the movement of production to developing countries, which were facilitated by the break-up of the New Deal coalition and the rise of the New Right... It signals the shift of the United States from a high-wage to a low-wage economy, with professionals protected by the fact that foreign-trained doctors and lawyers aren't allowed to compete with their American counterparts in the direct way that low-wage foreign-born workers are.

Remember the last point the next time you hear a Republican governor like Scott Walker of Wisconsin use divide-and-conquer tactics on workers fighting over their shrinking slice of the American pie.

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