FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Income Gap

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:

Weekend Edition
February 15, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Matthew Hoh
Time for Peace in Afghanistan and an End to the Lies
Chris Floyd
Pence and the Benjamins: An Eternity of Anti-Semitism
Rob Urie
The Green New Deal, Capitalism and the State
Jim Kavanagh
The Siege of Venezuela and the Travails of Empire
Paul Street
Someone Needs to Teach These As$#oles a Lesson
Andrew Levine
World Historical Donald: Unwitting and Unwilling Author of The Green New Deal
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Third Rail-Roaded
Eric Draitser
Impacts of Exploding US Oil Production on Climate and Foreign Policy
Ron Jacobs
Maduro, Guaidó and American Exceptionalism
John Laforge
Nuclear Power Can’t Survive, Much Less Slow Climate Disruption
Joyce Nelson
Venezuela & The Mighty Wurlitzer
Jonathan Cook
In Hebron, Israel Removes the Last Restraint on Its Settlers’ Reign of Terror
Ramzy Baroud
Enough Western Meddling and Interventions: Let the Venezuelan People Decide
Robert Fantina
Congress, Israel and the Politics of “Righteous Indignation”
Dave Lindorff
Using Students, Teachers, Journalists and other Professionals as Spies Puts Everyone in Jeopardy
Kathy Kelly
What it Really Takes to Secure Peace in Afghanistan
Brian Cloughley
In Libya, “We Came, We Saw, He Died.” Now, Maduro?
Nicky Reid
The Councils Before Maduro!
Gary Leupp
“It’s All About the Benjamins, Baby”
Jon Rynn
What a Green New Deal Should Look Like: Filling in the Details
David Swanson
Will the U.S. Senate Let the People of Yemen Live?
Dana E. Abizaid
On Candace Owens’s Praise of Hitler
Raouf Halaby
‘Tiz Kosher for Elected Jewish U.S. Officials to Malign
Rev. William Alberts
Trump’s Deceitful God-Talk at the Annual National Prayer Breakfast
W. T. Whitney
Caribbean Crosswinds: Revolutionary Turmoil and Social Change 
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
Avoiding Authoritarian Socialism
Howard Lisnoff
Anti-Semitism, Racism, and Anti-immigrant Hate
Ralph Nader
The Realized Temptations of NPR and PBS
Cindy Garcia
Trump Pledged to Protect Families, Then He Deported My Husband
Thomas Knapp
Judicial Secrecy: Where Justice Goes to Die
Louis Proyect
The Revolutionary Films of Raymundo Gleyzer
Sarah Anderson
If You Hate Campaign Season, Blame Money in Politics
Victor Grossman
Contrary Creatures
Tamara Pearson
Children Battling Unhealthy Body Images Need a Different Narrative About Beauty
Peter Knutson
The Salmon Wars in the Pacific Northwest: Banning the Rough Customer
Binoy Kampmark
Means of Control: Russia’s Attempt to Hive Off the Internet
Robert Koehler
The Music That’s in All of Us
Norah Vawter
The Kids Might Save Us
Tracey L. Rogers
Freedom for All Begins With Freedom for the Most Marginalized
Paul Armentano
Marijuana Can Help Fight Opioid Abuse
Tom Clifford
Britain’s Return to the South China Sea
Graham Peebles
Young People Lead the Charge to Change the World
Matthew Stevenson
A Pacific Odyssey: Around General MacArthur’s Manila Stage Set
B. R. Gowani
Starbucks Guy Comes Out to Preserve Billionaire Species
David Yearsley
Bogart Weather
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail