11 April 2012

Economic disparity in the U.S.A. and worldwide

(The following was a letter to the Editor at the Chattanooga Times-News Free Press published 9 May 1999.)

During the Golden Age of Capitalism (1946-1973), when the top estate tax rate was 75%, the top income tax rate was 91%, and the United States experienced its strongest and most long-lasting period of economic growth, salaries of top corporate executives averaged 12 to 20 times that of the average worker.  Today the top income tax rate is 35% and the ratio of salaries of top corporate is 200 to 250 times that of the average worker.

Among the 19 largest industrialized countries, we the people of the United States are Number 1 per capita in: 

-Material consumption
-Income inequality
-Children living in poverty
-Total healthcare costs
-Population without healthcare coverage
-Infants born underweight
-Infant mortality
-Preschoolers not fully immunized
-Death of children under five
-Lack of paid maternity leave
-Overpay of athletes
-Underpay of teachers
-Military spending
-Underspending for the poor
-Underspending on education
-Suppression of workers' rights
-Military aid to developing countries
-Lack of humanitarian aid to developing countries
-Bank failures (and this was BEFORE the crash of 2007!)
-Bank bailouts (again, this was TEN YEARS before the TARP program!)
-Pay gap between executives and workers
-Deaths by guns
-Deaths by capital punishment, aka state homicide
-Deaths of suspects in police custody
-Political prisoners (again, this was more than two years before Gitmo and CIA extraordinary renditions began and ten years before Pres. Obama and Congress authorized indefinite detention.)
-Length of penal sentences
-Total population imprisoned.

At the top of the world's economic food chain are 358 individuals who have—use or hoard—as much as the bottom 2,700,000,000 persons, 45% of the world's population, who have not.  In other words, each single one of these individuals consumes in one year on average as much as 7,541,899 other individual human beings combined.

Since the U.S.A. has the largest number of the world's billionaires, it's safe to say that most of these 358 gluttonous plutocrats are Americans.

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