Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Dumbbell Weights are Getting Heavier

One of the most important points to come out of the scathing analysis of our economic crisis in the film Inside Job is the way in which the separation of wealth in our country has become a grotesque bimodal (dumbbell) distribution.  This is, by no means, a new observation;  but those who think that it is nothing more than socialist alarmism would do will to take a look at the latest round of hard data.  Admittedly, such folks are likely to look askance at numbers that show up on a BBC News Web page;   but all the BBC was doing was documenting data from our own Census Bureau.  (I suppose there are some out there who would accuse the Census of being socialist, just because of its commitment to make sure that every nose is properly counted.)  Whatever the attitudes may be, here is how the BBC reported the numbers:

The number of Americans living in poverty rose to a record 46.2 million last year, official data has shown.

This is the highest figure since the US Census Bureau started collecting the data in 1959.

In percentage terms, the poverty rate rose to 15.1%, up from 14.3% in 2009.

The US definition of poverty is an annual income of $22,314 (£14,129) or less for a family of four and $11,139 for a single person.

The number of Americans living below the poverty line has now risen for four years in a row, while the poverty rate is the biggest since 1993.

Poverty among black and Hispanic people was much higher than for the overall US population last year, the figures also showed.

The Census Bureau data said 25.8% of black people were living in poverty and 25.3% of Hispanic people.

Its latest report also showed that the average annual US household income fell 2.3% in 2010 to $49,445.

Meanwhile, the number of Americans without health insurance remained about 50 million.

The data comes as the US unemployment rate remains above 9%.

While I still entertain the possibility that the purpose of a global economic policy that can lead to such poverty is to create a new slave class, Inside Job left me with the feeling that those with wealth are driven only by their addiction to greed, whatever the consequences may be.  One of those consequences is that the United States has finally acquired another position in which it ranks as number one.  While the bimodal distribution of wealth may be a global phenomenon, our country can claim the widest separation between the two modes.  Do we really want to brag about that?

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