Posted May 14, 2013 at 8:00 am, in From the USW International President
President Obama went to Austin, Texas, last week in pursuit of an industrial and employment revival. He wants to launch manufacturing institutes to foster American innovation and job creation.
Republicans responded by ridiculing the President, in the same arrogant way that the blooded aristocrats on the British television series Downton Abbey scorned a chauffeur who sought to marry into the patrician Crawley family. “No opportunity for the downtrodden!” the GOP and wealthy vow.
Watching Downton Abbey would be pure escapism, a simple respite from the grind of work and duties of home. That is, except for the disquieting reality that Downton Abbey’s classist mores increasingly intrude on American life. The wealth gap between America’s rich and poor has widened to the point where it was in Downton Abbey days. And that is abetted by the GOP practice of continually cutting taxes on the rich while constantly cutting government services that provide opportunity to everyone else.
Income inequality in America is wide and widening. Just get this: while income stagnated for the middle class, the average annual income of the top .01 percent of U.S. households from 2002 to 2007 rose by 123 percent – a gain of $20 million each.
Even after the crash of 2008, the wealthiest .01 percent did just fine. Now, the stock market and corporate profits are soaring. But only the wealthy are benefitting. The New York Times reported earlier this month that corporate profits in the third quarter of 2012 took the largest share of national income for any time since 1950, while the portion that went to workers fell to the lowest point since 1966.
While making those huge profits, corporations aren’t creating jobs. For those who do have jobs but aren’t in the top 10 percent income bracket, wages fell 7 percent from 2007 to 2008. Unlike the rich, workers didn’t recover after the crash, with median household income declining 1.5 percent in 2011. (more…)