The United States of Inequality

From 1980 to 2005, more than 80 percent of total increase in Americans’ income went to the top 1 percent. Economic growth was more sluggish in the aughts, but the decade saw productivity increase by about 20 percent. Yet virtually none of the increase translated into wage growth at middle and lower incomes, an outcome that left many economists scratching their heads.…america-2010-4

Seems unfair.


but great for me :D… just kidding.

In the United States, money doesn’t “go” to one group or another.

It is earned.

The more productive you are, the more you earn.

And yet, the United States of INEQUALITY:rolleyes: continues to be a nation which huge amounts of folk risk everything to immigrate to.
Do you think THOSE folk are in search of greater inequality?
Or just maybe…they realize that MOST low income Americans are better off than most average income citizens of other nations.
Compare the contents of a low income American’s fridge with the contents of people’s fridge in other nations sometimes.
In America a low income American usually gets free food from the govt, drives a used car, rents a decent home, and can get 10-20 dollars an hour in panhandling.

How do you think that compares with with “low income” in most other countries.

How many people on the planet do you think would love to be a low income American?

The key is to distinguish the difference between those who can and do not and those who cannot.

Very few of the 1% had these resources fall into their laps. The 1% have a responsibility to give to the 99%, regardless of the above category; however, they should not be penalized for being successful.

How many in the top 1% stay in that bracket for a long period?

Especially when productivity is defined in terms of monetary value…

Personally I think my neighborhood trash collector is much more productive than the CEO of either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. However he earns quite a bit less.

When someone frames a question using money, then the answer is framed in money.

If you want to talk about some other set of variables, that can be done as well.

The OP was about money, though.

Now, if you want to talk about “enterprises” in which the chief executive used falsified statements, that is another matter entirely. There is ENRON, in which the executives were prosecuted. And there are other enterprises, such as the ones you named, in which the executives were not prosecuted for making false certifications.

Ya we have that problem here - all us Canadians trying to cross the border to become Americans - Lol.

Personally I feel that USA needs to focus on a partially or fully publicly-funded health system so that it sits in line with with other developed countries. Health should be a right and not seen as a privilege.

In 2009, an excess of 45,000 deaths annually in the United States due to Americans not having health insurance and access to care.…58G6W520090917

2015 for free health is way to far away.…s-in-2015.html

In my own country of NZ we have a mixed public-private system for delivering healthcare. Accident Compensation Corporation covers the costs of treatment for cases deemed ‘accidents’, for all people legally in New Zealand (including tourists), with the costs recovered via levies on employers, employees and some other sources such as car registration. An extensive and high-quality system of public hospitals treats citizens or permanent residents free of charge and is managed by District Health Boards. Primary care (non-specialist doctors / family doctors) and medications on the list of the New Zealand government agency PHARMAC require co-payments, but are subsidised, especially for patients with community health services cards or high user health cards. Emergency services are primarily provided by St. John New Zealand charity (as well as Wellington Free Ambulance in the Wellington Region), supported with a mix of private (donated) and public (subsidy) funds. It is a excellent service.

There are more govt insurance plans available in the US than most people know about. It’s kind of a mess because it varies from state to state, even county to county sometime A lot of people mostly young, just don’t look.
It blew me away but I know former homeless folk that were easily able to get free govt coverage, free surgery, etc. Zero premiums, etc. One got a free hip replacement.

Does Canada have an immigration problem?

Inequality is not the same thing as injustice.

You quoted a number that 45,000 people die in the U.S. from lack of health coverage.

That is a false made-up statistic.

Not true at all.

Read more here.

And when there was a major debate here on CAF during the discussion of the “Obamacare” law, several posters provided backup demonstrating how false that claim is.

And by the way, there is no such thing as “free health”.

Once upon a time, a man told a story about a vinyard owner whose crop came ripe. He went out in the morning and hired several day laborers to work, agreeing to pay them the going daily rate.

At noon, the owner noticed that there were not enough workers, so he went and picked up some more day laborers.

Towards the end of the day, he noticed that he would need several more picking in order to get all the grapes picked, so back he went to pick up some more laborers.

Finally all the grapes were picked. The men lined up in no particular order for their pay, but soon those hired in the morning began to complain. Those hired at noon and in the evening were being paid the same daily rate that they were getting! How was that fair?

The owner replied that it was his money, and that he was paying the morning workers the amount agreed upon. What he gave the others was irrelevant.

In the same way, we in the US have a good life, and most of those who have it rough can get help.

We are not Christians living in Somalia watching our children starve to death in our arms because the warlords won’t let the food through.

We are not mothers in China being dragged to an abortuary because we got pregnant again.

We don’t need to fear or know our young daughters being raped by someone who thinks that doing so will cure his AIDS.

Things are not perfect in the US, but they are more perfect than almost anywhere else. Working to help those who need help makes a lot of sense. Whining that some have more, even a walloping ridiculous amount more, is bad for oneself and for others.

This focus causes bitterness, discouragement, and covetness. Is this right in the eyes of God?

This is by Rick Perry … post #2 on another thread by Gilliam:

Why I’m Running

Posted on August 13th, 2011

What I learned in my 20’s traveling the globe as an Air Force pilot, our current president has yet to acknowledge in his 50’s – that we are the most exceptional nation on the face of the earth.

As Americans, we believe freedom is a gift from God, and government’s prime function is to defend it. We don’t see the role of government as a nanny state, and we recognize there is no government money that wasn’t once earned through the sweat and toil of private citizens.

That’s why we object to an Administration that sees its role as spending our children’s inheritance on failed economic theories that have given us record debt and left far too many unemployed, threatening not only our economy, but our security. Our reliance on foreign creditors and sources of energy not only compromises our national sovereignty, but jeopardizes our national future.

America’s place in the world is in peril, not only because of disastrous economic policies, but from the incoherent muddle known as our foreign policy. Our president has thumbed his nose at traditional allies such as Israel and Great Britain.

We will not sit back and accept our current misery…because a great country requires a better direction…because a renewed nation requires a new president. That’s why, with faith in God, the support of my family, and an unwavering belief in the goodness of America, I am a candidate for President of the United States.

And I will work every day to make Washington, D.C. as inconsequential in your lives as I can.

Tim Parke compares the pros and cons of New Zealand and American healthcare.

NZ Herald - Dr Tim Parke, Clinical Director, Emergency Dept, Auckland Hospital
16 November 2010

The likely new Speaker of the US House of Representatives, John Boehner, is very clear that the US has the “best healthcare system in the world”. And that it should not be changed by President Obama, or anyone else for that matter.

Universal public health care, such as in New Zealand on the other hand, is widely portrayed by the American Republican Party as a dangerous, ineffective, bloated socialist idea that produces mediocre results. And that it regularly kills patients through error and neglect and risks bankrupting the country through taxation.

This view now appears to be finding some traction with certain business leaders, politicians and economists in New Zealand. They argue the recession means we must downsize universal healthcare, especially in public hospitals, to spend less tax revenue on health. The private health sector will pick up the additional work and financial incentives such as tax breaks should be given to those who choose to pay directly for their healthcare.

So would being more American, more commercial, about the whole business of looking after the sick and injured work better for NZ in terms of outcomes, safety and economics? How does the New Zealand system of large public hospitals, subsidised GP networks, ACC insurance and small private hospital contribution perform relative to highly privatised US healthcare?

The information to answer this is freely available from the independent OECD data published last year. Life expectancy is higher in New Zealand (and all other countries with integrated public systems) than in the US, despite their spending more than double the GDP percentage of any other country on health.

Outcomes in this country from heart attack, stroke, cancer and trauma are similar to or marginally better than the US (with a couple of exceptions such as breast cancer).

Infant mortality and premature death are very much higher in the US. Using WHO data, Newsweek magazine recently placed New Zealand equal 4th in the world for health (the US is 26th).

Mercers also named Auckland and Wellington in the top 15 cities in the world to live in, with availability of accessible affordable health care being a major determinant of the score. No US city made the top 30.

Are public hospitals inherently unsafe compared with private facilities?
Faith in public hospitals has been undermined undoubtedly by multiple press anecdotes of adverse outcomes, which appear less regularly from the private sector. This fuels the notion that the public system is in crisis.

However, there are very much lower volumes, less reporting transparency and less complex and risky procedures being undertaken in private facilities.

In fact, when adverse events occur in the private sector the patient is usually immediately transferred to the public hospital so they can receive a higher level of care and expertise.

Avoidable error certainly does occur in public hospitals but there is no inherent complacency. Critical incidents are openly reported by DHBs annually, and overall, the public hospital error rate here is similar to that of other mixed healthcare systems, such as in Australia.

Why should taxpayers be forced to cover people who don’t make health provision for themselves and their families?

The US experience would suggest that absence of universal health care does not act as an incentive for citizens to work hard and make provision for themselves.

Instead, market forces push the cost of healthcare up to the point of maximum profitability for the organisations and healthcare professionals.

At this point many people can no longer afford it, so they rely on the state safety net. However, those paying directly for their healthcare become disinclined to pay tax to support the public system, allowing it to become progressively underfunded.

Such resulting inequality and social division have been convincingly linked to a range of poor health outcomes and quality of life standards.

The corollary is also true in that too much care may occur in the private system for the well-off, where doctors get paid to operate and are sued if they miss anything. This subjects many patients to unfounded anxiety, unnecessary radiation from scans and unwarranted surgical procedures.

One study estimates an additional 1200 cancers per year in the US will occur due to the widespread practice of “pan-scanning” - taking patients through a CT scanner from head to foot after a motor accident to avoid missing an injury.

There are estimated to be 12,000 deaths a year from unnecessary surgery in the US. Thus with under-provision at the bottom and overprovision at the top, everyone is worse off, and the lowly position of the US in the health tables makes sense.

The New Zealand system of universal public healthcare provides better care and is inherently more efficient. Money is not spent on billing (estimated at 10 per cent of US healthcare budget).

Bulk drug purchasing, and nationally negotiated terms and conditions for a highly trained workforce tend to further contain costs. Furthermore, the highly paid specialists working in the public system often work beyond contracted time to satisfy their professional pride in their work and provide a decent public service that they and the community are proud of.

During this recession, investment of tax revenue in expanding equitable public healthcare (as with education and public transport) is more likely to move a society forward and provide economic spin-offs in terms of employment and social mobility.

Is this not a better investment than bailing out private finance companies or the movie industry where the returns may be less widespread?

There are several problems with his analysis. There is more infant mortality here because we try to rescue infants at risk. Here, if a child is born alive we care for him or her. In nations with public health, there are gestational age limits in that. that is why when you hear about a new record set of survival at an earlier gestational age, it is set here in the US.

Notice too that they have bulk purchases of medications in NZ. In Canada, they refuse to pat a price which covers the intensive and extremely safety testing the FDA requires. The US probably does more to develop new medications and machines and techniques than anyy other nation, if not all of them combined. That costs money too.

There are problems in our (US) system, don’t get me wrong. But I hate those analysises of health care systems which ignore our unique strengths and skew the judging towards cost to the patient.


So - it’s not a good thing when prosperity isn’t growing for the majority of Americans. Everyone wants at least a shot at doing better, but those opportunities are becoming increasingly rare. It’s a tough problem, but I don’t think it’s something than requires a heavy-handed, government-mandated redistribution-of-income solution.

I think a lot of the inequality comes from a shift in the sources of wealth creation, from those which require many hands, such as manufacturing, to those which require fewer hands (at least fewer domestic, skilled hands), such as financial activities and entertainment. The wealth is still being created, but fewer people share in creating it.

In the past, a visionary like Edison or Ford would come up with an idea for some new or better product, then build an enterprise to make and sell it, creating jobs at all skill levels. The entrepreneur profited the most, of course, but he needed a lot of people to realize his vision, and they all benefited too.

Today, the execution of that new and better idea is likely to be offshored, cutting out many of the middle-level and even highly-skilled jobs such as engineering and software development which formerly would have been done in the US, leaving only the low-paid bottom of the pyramid, like retail clerks. This “hollowing out” of our once-vibrant manufacturing economy has wiped out a lot of jobs and closed off a path to advancement for many.

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