Charles Blow of the New York Times has noticed that our decadent empire is in decline, and “It’s time for us to stop lying to ourselves about this country,” because among industrialized countries “we are among the worst of the worst.”
How dare you notice, sir? And since when is the NYT making such embarrassing revelations publicly? To paraphrase Colbert, Americans don’t want to know how vile and corrupt our plutocratic overlords are, and the media used to have the courtesy not to tell us.
It’s all about inequality
State of Working America has some interactive graphs showing average incomes of the top 10% (in red hues) and bottom 90% (in blue) of wage earners between 1917 and 2008. Moving the vertical bars in their graphs allows the user to select and summarize intervals of interest. Data were compiled by economist Emmanuel Saez at UC Berkeley.
From 1917 to 1970 the bottom 90% of wage earners took home 72% of income growth, whereas the top 10% earners took home 28%. The top 1% (light pink) took the smallest proportion of growth, whereas the next two largest income earners (rose and maroon)took the largest shares of the 28% cut.
Over the past forty years or so, income inequality has ballooned. Specifically, from 1970 to 2008, the top 10% wage earners took home all the growth in incomes. The top 1% took the majority of that growth. The bottom 90% got nothing. For the past 40 years, the vast majority and poorest Americans have gotten nothing. Bupkis. Goose eggs. Zilch. All the money has gone to the very top, the worst of the worst, for forty fucking years.
This trend of the uber-wealthy getting uber-wealthier while the rest of us “suck on it” is only accelerating. From 2000 to 2007 the top 1% took 75% of all income growth.