or Third World country, or whatever phrase you want to use. The US became the economic juggernaut it once was by having a healthy, wealthy middle class. If all the cash gets sucked up by the leeches in the upper bracket, there isn’t enough left for the rest of us.
The clearest explanation yet of the forces that converged over the past three decades or so to undermine the economic well-being of ordinary Americans is contained in the new book, ““Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer—and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class” (Paul Pierson, Jacob S. Hacker)”
The authors, political scientists Jacob Hacker of Yale and Paul Pierson of the University of California, Berkeley, argue persuasively that the economic struggles of the middle and working classes in the U.S. since the late-1970s were not primarily the result of globalization and technological changes but rather a long series of policy changes in government that overwhelmingly favored the very rich.
Those changes were the result of increasingly sophisticated, well-financed and well-organized efforts by the corporate and financial sectors to tilt government policies in their favor, and thus in favor of the very wealthy. From tax laws to deregulation to corporate governance to safety net issues, government action was deliberately shaped to allow those who were already very wealthy to amass an ever increasing share of the nation’s economic benefits.
“Over the last generation,” the authors write, “more and more of the rewards of growth have gone to the rich and supperrich. The rest of America, from the poor through the upper middle class, has fallen further and further behind.”
As if to underscore this theme, it was revealed last week (by David Cay Johnston, a Pulitzer Prize-winning former reporter for The New York Times), that the incomes of the very highest earners in the United States, a small group of individuals hauling in more than $50 million annually (sometimes much more), increased fivefold from 2008 to 2009, even as the nation was being rocked by the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
(click to continue reading Bob Herbert’s Fast Track to Inequality – NYTimes.com.)