Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Today's Income Inequality Rant

From the Washington Post a few days ago:

At Tiffany's, executives report that sales of their most expensive merchandise have grown by double digits. At Wal-Mart, executives point to shoppers flooding the stores at midnight every two weeks to buy baby formula the minute their unemployment checks hit their accounts. Neiman Marcus brought back $1.5 million fantasy gifts in its annual Christmas Wish Book. Family Dollar is making more room on its shelves for staples like groceries, the one category its customers reliably shop.

"When you start to line up all the pieces, you see a story that starts to emerge," said James Russo, vice president of global consumer insights for The Nielsen Co. "You kind of see this polarized Christmas."

Though economists declared the recession officially over last summer, the pace of recovery has been uneven across income levels. The rebound in the stock market and record low mortgage interest rates have mostly benefited affluent households, buoying their confidence in the economy along with their ability - and their desire - to spend. Meanwhile, progress largely has bypassed poorer families who remain hamstrung by anemic wage growth and a higher unemployment rate.
Increasing income inequality. Economic policies which benefit the few and mostly hurt the rest. Refusal to regulate stock markets. Refusal to punish the culprits who triggered the recession by their sloth, greed and willful incompetence. At least all of them should have been made to join the unemployed.

Devil's bargains: To keep some of the unemployed eating longer, a few among the wealthy can now buy an extra gift at Tiffany's. This is all fair and good! "We" cannot afford a bigger government, that frightening, lumbering behemoth sucking out the heart blood out of business! "We" cannot afford more taxes!

"We" cannot afford unemployment insurance. It should be privatized, tells Mitt Romney. Workers should save for it on their own, just as workers should save for old age, for health care and for everything else on their own. "We" cannot afford the government, or taxes, but the less affluent can afford everything they need! Without any helping hand of the government or the "free" market, it seems, while outsourcing swiftly dispatches most manufacturing jobs abroad. How many serfs can Tiffany's or Neiman Marcus employ?

Not enough. The current income inequality approaches the levels that existed before the stock market crash which led to the Great Depression. There aren't enough of the rich to employ all of us in their feudal households.