Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Real Price of Inequality

Economic inequality doesn't just mean that some people are way richer than others.  It means that the bigger the gap between the wealthiest and the poorest, the more damage it causes to the economy and society, harming everyone.

It's already driven the U.S. into the ranks of the Third World.

Down With Tyranny:

Lately you've been hearing a few political leaders, particularly Elizabeth Warren, Jeff Merkley, Brian Schatz and Bernie Sanders in the Senate and some of the Progressive Caucus members in the House, talking about steeply rising income inequality. They're talking about the kind of inequality that's part of vicious cycle that inevitably leads to oligarchy, plutocracy or outright fascism, in which a few families, through an accumulation of wealth and power, can dictate the laws and even the societal norms and control the mechanisms of enforcement to such an extent that they can virtually enslave an entire passive population.

It can't happen here? The manifestations are already undeniable. The greed and rapacity of the .01% has become so overbearing and their refusal to pay their fair share of taxes so debilitating that a UNICEF report I ran across this morning, a report that would have scandalized an empowered middle class anytime between the time Harry Truman was president until the beginning of the new normal under Ronald Reagan. The report goes a lot deeper than the shocking chart at top of the page which ranks 29 developed countries according to the overall well-being of their children. The 5 countries ranked at the very bottom include 4 of the poorest-- Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Greece-- plus the U.S., which is both one of the richest and one with the least economic equality. Those 5 countries, along with Italy, Portugal and Spain, have child poverty rates higher than 15%. The only countries that have allowed the child poverty gap to widen to more than 30%. are Bulgaria, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and, of course, the United States.

Some of the manifestations of America's rush to the bottom:
The only developed countries with infant mortality rates higher than 6 per 1,000 births are Latvia, Romania, Slovakia and the United States.

Only in Greece, Hungary, Portugal and the United States does the low birthweight rate exceed 8%.

Only Canada, Greece and the United States have childhood obesity levels higher than 20%. The United States had the highest proportion of children overweight at both the beginning and end of the decade, reaching almost 30% by 2009/2010.

Romania, the UK and the United States have the highest rates of teenage births (above 29 per 1,000).

Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the United States are the only countries in which the homicide rate rises above 4 per 100,000. Almost all other countries fall into the range of 0 to 2.5 per 100,000.

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