Thursday, October 27, 2011
Income Disparity Versus Class Warfare
Yesterday I heard an interview on my local public radio station with congresspeople giving their opinions on the occupy wall street protests. There was one Democratic Congressman who expressed sympathy for the complaints of those involved in the protests and went on to list a few things that he saw as problems which justified the anger of the protesters. Among these so-called problems he quoted a statistic from a recent report from the Congressional Budget Office indicating that in the last thirty years the income level of the top one percent of earners in the U.S, has increased by 275 percent. That's it. The problem I have is that that statistic on its own is not a "problem" or indeed a negative in any way, unless you are engaged in the "class warfare" that has been decried by republicans. The fact that the super-wealthy are doing better is only a problem if you are opposed to the super-wealthy on principle.
The real problem raised by the statistics revealed in the C.B.O. report isn't that the income of the super wealthy has increased so drastically, it's that the income of the other 99 percent hasn't kept pace with the top one percent. The Congressman should have given the statistics of the relatively minuscule increase in income among the low earning population and claimed the problem was an income disparity in the U.S. that is comparable to countries like Uganda, Rwanda, Ecuador and Cameroon.
The problem is not that the rich are doing so well, the problem is that everyone else is doing so poorly.