The spike in income inequality in the U.S. in recent decades is due to systemic injustices at the level of policy and institution structure for over 40 years. Incomes for the bottom 90 percent of Americans grew by an average of $60 (adjusted for inflation) per person over the time period spanning 1966 to 2011. Mysteriously, during this same 40 year period, the average income of the top 10 percent of Americans has risen by $116,071 – $254,864 per person without any spill over into the lower income brackets. This represents an 84% increase in the personal incomes of the top 10% of earners in America since 1966. The disparity in income increase is over 431,972% in favor of an elite minority. The top 10% have earned more than 4000 times as much income increases than the middle class who actually do 99% of the work constituting the economy. The incomes of the top 1% have increased 10,608 times as much as the incomes of the middle class. And the top 1 % of the top 1% whose 2011 average income was $23.7 million, is today $18.4 million richer per year as compared with those that income bracket in 1966. That represents a 350% increase in their own incomes, compared with the super-wealthy of 1966. That represents a 30666666% greater increase than the income increase of the bottom 90% of Americans.
The United States Chamber of Commerce expressed disappointment with the U.S. House of Representatives for passing an increase in the federal minimum wage recently. This, despite the fact that if minimum wage had just kept up with inflation for the past 30 years it would have been over $25/hr in 2013. The reason for the disappointment the Chamber of Commerce reports, is the negative impact this increased wage will have on the employment figures of private sector small businesses, which they claim will be “forced” to lay off workers due to the decreased availability of resources. Why one might wonder, wouldn’t the business owner simply cut his own pay, which has been on the rise for decades now? And that is exactly what he will do. And that is exactly what the House of Commerce is lobbied to prevent — owners of businesses having to reign in the rate of their expanding incomes for the sake of paying their employees equitable wages. The House of Commerce, continued then to “encourage” the Senate to carefully consider its decision in light of the impact this will have on small businesses.
Bruce Josten, Chamber executive vice president for government affairs, is reported saying “Any minimum wage increase will significantly affect the bottom line of the nation’s small business owners. Unfortunately, this bill completely ignores that fact, and as a result small businesses may be forced to eliminate jobs, reduce hours, and cut employee benefits.” It is true that this will negatively affect the short-term profit margins of business, but it is not at all necessary for that deficit in profits to come out of the employees pockets, in terms of cut payrolls or slashed benefits. It can and should easily come out of the cancerous growth in the owners share of the profits. In fact that is exactly the problem — the culture that assumes that all costs and failures of a business are instinctively transferred to workers in the form of salary cuts, benefits slashed, and hours reduced. The assumption that business failures belong to the workers, but business profits belong to the owners is exactly the chimera that has been fed to the American people and adopted by the economic culture. This is exactly the delusion that led to the big banks bail outs in 2008 in which AIG, Goldman Sachs, Lehman brothers, etc spent a decade making record millions in personal bonuses off of the sub-prime mortgage boom, and when the housing bubble finally burst they turned around and handed the debt to the government and nationalized the losses. That sounds to me like capitalism when the chips are up, but communism when the chips are down. Otherwise known as communism (by totalitarian leaders). What happened to taking responsibility for yourselves? What happened to the value of “risk raking”? What happened to not mooching off tax payers?