Everybody knows that the United States has become much more unequal since 1980. Can we expect the nation to get still more unequal? Unfortunately, yes. With top 1 percent incomes growing faster than the incomes of everyone else, increasing inequality will be inevitable.
Pundits usually have income in mind when they talk about the top 1 percent. And analysts sometimes rank our richest by wealth. But Duke University sociologist Lisa Keister points out that if we really want to understand privilege, we need to start looking at both.
Baseball’s top hitter and Wall Street power suits both ply their trades in a high-speed world. That hitter will make over a quarter-billion in the next decade. The top suits stand to ‘earn’ astonishingly more. The phenomenon of high-speed trading accounts for one reason why.
We always get what we measure. And if we measure inequality with a yardstick that only wonks can decipher, we’ll end up with a society too confused about inequality to do anything meaningful about it. Thanks to Chilean economist Gabriel Palma, we do have an alternative.
Equal pay for equal work? We still haven’t arrived at that destination. Decent pay that reflects the dignity of all who labor? In today’s America, we’ve barely even begun that journey, as suggests a deeper look into the controversy over the compensation for GM’s first female CEO.
Those Americans struggling against poverty in the 1960s faced plenty of obstacles. Americans today may face even more. A half-century ago, after all, America’s wealthiest had nowhere near the chokehold on the nation’s political system that they hold today.
In the year ahead, the struggle against America’s chronic — and growing — income inequality just might jump-start. And one spark may come from Maryland’s St. Mary’s College campus, where activists are working to limit the top campus paycheck to 10 times the lowest.
Making the market “decisive” means that the Chinese government has decided to place profits before people — and even before that previously invincible talisman, economic growth.
Americans are gaining, ever so slowly, a more accurate picture of just how wide the gap has stretched between the nation’s most fabulously privileged and everyone else. New data from Social Security statisticians are helping fill in the holes. But a full picture remains elusive.
This year’s fast GDP growth underlines one of the great myths of economic statistics: the myth that growth benefits everyone, or at least most people.