FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Income Gap

by PAUL BUCHHEIT

We all believe that a growing economy is a good thing. Corporate successes make America strong, and international monetary policies have been designed to promote economic growth around the world.

But something is wrong. The income gap is growing faster in the United States than in any other developed nation. Between 1990 and 2000 in the U.S. worker pay and inflation remained approximately equal, while corporate profits rose 93% and CEO pay rose 571%. Meanwhile, the portion of federal revenue derived from corporate income tax has decreased from 33% in the 1950s to 11.9% in 2005, reaching a low of 7.4% in 2003. Hundreds of companies have avoided taxes by relocating to tax havens such as Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. Eighty-two of our largest corporations paid no tax in at least one of the first three years of the Bush administration.

Around the world, the income gap has increased between and within countries. Workers’ share of national income in developed countries is at its lowest level in 30 years. Our agricultural subsidies enrich a few people while making it impossible for farmers in the developing world to sell their crops in their own countries. According to the United Nations Report on the World Social Situation 2005, the OECD countries that have most vigorously implemented economic policies have experienced the greatest increases in inequality within their countries. The money doesn’t reach the people most in need. The New Economics Foundation reports that only 60 cents out of every $100.00 of world income goes to those in extreme poverty, much less than in the 1980s before the growth of structural adjustment policies. Globalized markets seem to reward those with the education, financial wherewithal, and business skills to make them work.

We’re letting domestic and multinational corporations, with their uncompromising profit motive and strong connection to the military, determine the future course of our country and the world. Terrorism has replaced communism as the major threat to our lifestyle. But corporate defense contractors — Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, and General Dynamics — take millions of dollars from the federal treasury every DAY to produce Cold-War-era weapons, with their profits guaranteed by the American public. We’re the leading seller of arms to the world. We intervene in more countries than ever before, even though studies show that intervention is tied to terrorism. Our elected representatives listen to businessmen and generals rather than to scientists, doctors, humanitarians, teachers, mothers. And we’ve been conditioned to believe that this is the way it must be.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. While macroeconomic business models have benefited the rich and the well educated, projects like the Millennium Villages in Africa go in the other direction, empowering poor communities by supporting agricultural improvements, clean water facilities, schools, and health care centers. Microcredit programs, as exemplified by Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammed Yunus’ program of small loans to Bangladesh women, has allowed people to liberate themselves by working their way out of poverty. The independence and self-respect achieved by millions of small entrepreneurs is making a difference where IMF and multinational corporate policies have failed. Initiatives like these make the whole world safer, more productive, and more respectable. And they suggest that our brand of capitalism may not be the best way to help people.

PAUL BUCHHEIT is a Professor, Harold Washington College in Chicago. He can be reached at: pbuchheit@ccc.edu

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
December 02, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
The Coming War on China
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The CIA’s Plots to Kill Castro
Paul Street
The Iron Heel at Home: Force Matters
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Timberg’s Tale: Washington Post Reporter Spreads Blacklist of Independent Journalist Sites
Andrew Levine
Must We Now Rethink the Hillary Question? Absolutely, Not
Joshua Frank
CounterPunch as Russian Propagandists: the Washington Post’s Shallow Smear
David Rosen
The Return of HUAC?
Rob Urie
Race and Class in Trump’s America
Patrick Cockburn
Why Everything You’ve Read About Syria and Iraq Could be Wrong
Caroline Hurley
Anatomy of a Nationalist
Michael Hudson – Steve Keen
Rebel Economists on the Historical Path to a Global Recovery
Ayesha Khan
A Muslim Woman’s Reflections on Trump’s Misogyny
Russell Mokhiber
Sanders Single Payer and Death by Democrat
Roger Harris
The Triumph of Trump and the Specter of Fascism
Steve Horn
Donald Trump’s Swamp: Meet Ten Potential Energy and Climate Cabinet Picks and the Pickers
Louis Proyect
Deepening Contradictions: Identity Politics and Steelworkers
Ralph Nader
Trump and His Betraying Makeover
Stephen Kimber
The Media’s Abysmal Coverage of Castro’s Death
Dan Bacher
WSPA: The West’s Most Powerful Corporate Lobbying Group
Nile Bowie
Will Trump backpedal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership?
Ron Ridenour
Fidel’s Death Brings Forth Great and Sad Memories
Missy Comley Beattie
By Invitation Only
Fred Gardner
Sword of Damocles: Pot Partisans Fear Trump’s DOJ
Renee Parsons
Obama and Propornot
Dean Baker
Cash and Carrier: Trump and Pence Put on a Show
Jack Rasmus
Taming Trump: From Faux Left to Faux Right Populism
Ron Jacobs
Selling Racism—A Lesson From Pretoria
Julian Vigo
The Hijos of Buenos Aires:  When Identity is Political
Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano
By Way of Prologue: On How We Arrived at the Watchtower and What We Saw from There
Dave Lindorff
Is Trump’s Idea To Fix the ‘Rigged System’ by Appointing Crooks Who’ve Played It?
Aidan O'Brien
Fidel and Spain: A Tale of Right and Wrong
Carol Dansereau
Stop Groveling! How to Thwart Trump and Save the World
Kim Nicolini
Moonlight, The Movie
Evan Jones
Behind GE’s Takeover of Alstom Energy
James A Haught
White Evangelicals are Fading, Powerful, Baffling
Barbara Moroncini
Protests and Their Others
Joseph Natoli
The Winds at Their Backs
Cesar Chelala
Poverty is Not Only an Ignored Word
David Swanson
75 Years of Pearl Harbor Lies
Alex Jensen
The Great Deceleration
Nyla Ali Khan
When Faith is the Legacy of One’s Upbringing
Gilbert Mercier
Trump Win: Paradigm Shift or Status Quo?
Stephen Martin
From ‘Too Big to Fail’ to ‘Too Big to Lie’: the End Game of Corporatist Globalization.
Charles R. Larson
Review: Emma Jane Kirby’s “The Optician of Lampedusa”
David Yearsley
Haydn Seek With Hsu
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail