By Chris Kanthan for Nation of Change. If we want to create a vibrant middle class, we have to abandon slogans and simplistic solutions and understand the bigger picture. There is no doubt that majority of Americans have gotten poorer over the last few decades even while the top 10% or so have done extremely well. In a world of slogans and minuscule attention span, the media and the pundits either completely deny this fact or justify it by focusing on advancements in technology or turn it into a partisan blame game. The reality is that multiple developments contributed to this decline of prosperity, much of it due to deliberate but gradual social and financial engineering. Without assigning ranking or weight, here is a look at twelve major reasons why Americans became poor.
By Dariel Garner for Common Dreams – America’s richest 20 people own more than the bottom half of America – 152 million people combined. That is just one of the startling revelations in a new report,Billionaire Bonanza: The Forbes 400 and the Rest of Us, just released by the Institute for Policy Studies. Wealth inequality has reached new heights. The wealthiest 100 people now own about as much wealth as the entire African American population in the United States. Among the Forbes 400, but not in the top 100, just two individuals are African American—Oprah Winfrey and Robert Smith.
By Kate Aronoff for Waging Nonviolence – In a political and economic system seemingly tailor-made for the 1 percent, backlash against “wealth therapy” — the trend of moneyed Americans seeking counsel through their Occupy-induced feeling of shame and isolation — is well-placed. While the top 0.1 percent of families in the United States possess as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent, money psychologist Jamie Traege-Muney moaned to The Guardian that the movement wrongly “singled out the 1 percent and painted them globally as something negative.” But a growing cadre of this statistical owning class are now crafting a healthier relationship to the rabble at their doorstep.
Staff for Popular Resistance – Anya Parampil of RT America covers the Occupy encampments history and legacy on the 4th anniversary of the movement. She describes how occupy grew from a small part in New York to a national and international movement. She describes how the Occupy raised long festering issues of the unfair economy and put them on the national agenda – and how the media reported on the spectacle of the encampments but missed the message of the movement. The impact of the movement was to have income inequality mentioned in political discussions more than ever before and the national dialogue being restricted around the corruption of Wall Street and the unfair economy. The Occupy opened the door to discussion of these issues in politics and it is hard to imagine the Bernie Sanders Campaign without Occupy having occurred. While the encampments are long gone the message of the movement occupies the United States today.
In 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama was lambasted for supposedly endorsing policies of wealth redistribution. The right feared that under an Obama presidency, Washington would use federal power to take money from some Americans and give it to others. Yet, only a few years later, the most explicit examples of such redistribution are happening in the states, and often at the urging of Republicans. The most illustrative example began in 2012, when Kansas’ Republican Gov. Sam Brownback signed a landmark bill that delivered big tax cuts to high-income earners and businesses. Less than two years after that tax cut, the state’s income tax revenues plummeted by a quarter-billion dollars—and now Brownback is pushing to use money for public employees’ pensions to instead cover the state’s ensuing budget shortfalls.