Despite all my crying and gnashing of teeth last night, it’s Monday morning! Again!
And again, cold and clear on California’s north coast with today finally, the deep-cold of the past week might start to end — we’re at about 26 degrees right now on the way to a forecast high of 50, and tonight for the first time during that period, we’ll be above the freezing point.
And after today, we’ll be ‘warm‘ again — the word ‘warm‘ a much-subjective word.
(Illustration found here).
The word, ‘income,’ is also much-subjective.
Last week, President Obama gave a little speech on income inequality in the US — called it “the defining challenge of our time” — even recommending government-assisted “Promise Zones” in urban and rural areas where the 99 percent live, work and play. Obama also added additional and emotional context to income unevenness: “It drives everything I do in this office.”
However, Republicans are rich and they don’t give a shit: In a Pew Research Center survey in March a substantial majority of Republicans flatly said that the economic system is fair to most people. And by a whopping margin, they denied that the income inequality gap was a “big problem.”
No problem — for them.
Two years ago, the Occupy movement added the most-revealing term of this one-sided income bullshit — the 1 percent vs the 99 percent. The bigger number be us, since we’re the way-majority.
A startling, illustrative point in this horrific wealth distribution came Friday from Starbucks — the coffee people offers high-income java-sippers a ‘platinum‘-like card (via USAToday):
You might call it the Starbucks card for the 1 percent. Or this year, perhaps, for the 0.5 percent.
For the second year in a row, Starbucks is rolling out an ultra-limited edition, $450 metal, gift card for the holidays — pre-loaded with $400.
But this year, it’s literally five times more exclusive.
Last year, the coffee giant made 5,000.
This year, it’s making a mere 1,000.
However, greed overcomes any caffeine motivation:
That fancy-dancy Starbucks card promotion is taking some unexpected PR heat.
Some consumers are crying foul after Gilt, the luxury retailer working with Starbucks on the promotion, accidentally posted — then quickly un-posted — the $450, ultra-limited edition Starbucks Metal card on its site one day before it was supposed to go on sale.
Result: Some savvy consumers not only bought that card way ahead of the curve, but turned around and re-posted the collectible cards for sale on eBay — at as much as twice the price.
This, even before the cards were supposedly available for purchase to general consumers at noon EST on Friday.
Give a guy a fish, and he’ll have a good meal, teach him eBay tactics, and he’ll become part of the 1 percent — easy.
And in the US, the easy part is turning a deaf ear away from an economic nightmare — even in Africa, we’re losers:
Helen Clark the former prime minister of New Zealand left Windhoek on Friday afternoon as the first-ever United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Administrator to visit Namibia.
While clearly impressed with Namibia’s level of infrastructure, particularly in the fishing industry, Clark noted: “It is possible to be classified as an upper middle income country while much of the population is still poor.”
The UNDP estimates that close to 30 percent of the population live below the poverty line.
Meanwhile, Americans can’t feel any better/worse. Well, way-worse, at least according to the latest figures on global wealth.
Via HuffPost yesterday:
The most authoritative source comparing wealth-concentration in the various countries is the successor to the reports that used to be done for the United Nations, now performed as the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook…
…that in the U.S., 75.4 percent of all wealth is owned by the richest 10 percent of the people.
The comparable figures for the other developed countries are: Australia 50.3 percent, Canada 57.4 percent, Denmark 72.2 percent, Finland 44.9 percent, France 51.8 percent, Germany 61.7 percent, Ireland 58.4 percent, Israel 68.9 percent, Italy 49.8 percent, Japan 49.1 percent, Netherlands 54.6 percent, New Zealand 57.6 percent, Norway 65.9 percent, Singapore 61.1 percent, Spain 54.0 percent, Sweden 71.1 percent, Switzerland 71.5 percent, and U.K. 53.3 percent.
Those are the top 20 developed nations, and the U.S. has the most extreme wealth-concentration of them all.
The broadest mathematical measure of wealth-inequality is called “Gini,” and the higher it is, the more extreme the nation’s wealth-inequality is.
The Gini for the U.S. is 85.1.
Other extremely unequal countries are (pages 98-101 of this report) Chile 81.4, India 81.3, Indonesia 82.8, and South Africa 83.6.
Under Barack Obama, the U.S. has, for the first time in this nation’s history, increased the concentration of its privately held wealth during an “economic recovery” from a financial crash. (Consequently: the bottom 90 percent have experienced no benefit from this “recovery.”)
Usually, there is more instead of less economic equality in the wake of a crash; but Obama’s policies of holding harmless the Wall Street insiders who profited enormously from creating the bubble, and of restoring their wealth by taxpayers buying up their toxic assets via the bailouts, etc., have made the U.S. more like nations such as Chile, India, Indonesia, and less like nations such as Australia, Canada, and Finland.
Although Mr. Obama’s rhetoric has been opposed to extreme wealth-concentration, his policies have actually intensified that tendency.
Republicans are not satisfied with the extent to which he has done this, and they call for even more extreme wealth-concentration policies, but Obama has actually benefited America’s billionaires a great deal.
Romney received most of their campaign money, but Obama has performed extraordinarily well for them.
According to the latest study by the highly regarded economic-concentration specialist Emmanuel Saez, the richest 1 percent of Americans have been receiving 95 percent of the income-gains during the Obama “economic recovery.”
This “recovery” has raised incomes for the top 1 percent by 31.4 percent.
Everyone else has seen income-gains of 0.4 percent.
Other studies have shown that the bottom 95 percent of Americans have actually experienced overall reductions in their incomes under President Obama.
So: for most Americans, the “recession” has merely continued.
Indeed, if that’s what drives Obama the entire time he’s been in office, we should do like those old Greyhound Bus commercials, he should forfeit the wheel, and leave the driving to us.
Of course, that would leave some other asshole in charge, or even worse, a Republican asshole.
One hard rant about this horrible, fatal condition came from the late, great George Carlin, who produced the iconic view of ‘real‘ American life:
You know what they want?
They want obedient workers.
Obedient workers, people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork.
And just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shitty jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, the reduced benefits, the end of overtime and vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it, and now they’re coming for your Social Security money.
They want your retirement money.
They want it back so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street, and you know something?
They’ll get it.
They’ll get it all from you sooner or later cause they own this fucking place!
It’s a big club, and you ain’t in it!
You, and I, are not in the big club.
They don’t care about you at all… at all… AT ALL.
And nobody seems to notice.
Nobody seems to care.
That’s what the owners count on.
The fact that Americans will probably remain willfully ignorant of the big red, white and blue dick that’s being jammed up their assholes everyday, because the owners of this country know the truth.
It’s called the American Dream,because you have to be asleep to believe it.
Everybody, the game’s finished, all of you, in come free.
(Illustration out front found here).