inequality,

If I had my own world, I’d fill it with wealth and desire…a glorious past to admire…if I had my own world, I’d love it for all that’s inside it…there’d be no more wars, death, or riots…there’d be no more police-packed parking lots, guns, bombs, sounding off…if I had my own world, I’d build you an empire…from here to the far lands to spread love like violence…if I had my own world, I’d build you an empire…from here to the far lands, to spread love like violence…

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Let me feel you, carry you higher…watch our words spread hope like fire…secret crowds rise up and gather…hear your voices sing back louder…

From the New York Times’ Captain Obvious files:

Last year, the median net worth of upper-income families reached $639,400, nearly seven times as much of those in the middle, and nearly 70 times the level of those at the bottom of the income ladder.

Now, I don’t know about you but I’m just shy of $600k this year. I’m so shy that I do not think I fall into the low end that “median” range. If you too aren’t making those big public school teaching dollars you are clearly, like most of us, not “upper-income.”

“The Great Recession destroyed a significant amount of middle-income and lower-income families’ wealth, and the economic ‘recovery’ has yet to be felt for them,” the report concluded. Pew, which used data from the Federal Reserve, defined middle income as $44,000 a year for a family of four, while a yearly income of $132,000 for the same-size family pushed a household into the upper ranks. About one in five families qualifies for that higher status, while 46 percent occupy the middle range.

So $44,000 for a family of four is considered middle income? Sweet. Looks like we will have toilet paper on the roll all year, everybody! I joke because I was born in 1975:

The median household net worth last year for those in the middle was $96,500, only slightly above the $94,300 mark it hit in 1983 (after being adjusted for inflation). A poor household actually had a higher median net worth 30 years ago ($11,400 in 1983) than it counted last year ($9,300). Compare those results with the top fifth of income earners. In 1983, when the Fed began collecting the data, that group had a median wealth of $318,000; in 2013 it owned more than twice that.

Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” came out in 1983. The “wildly expensive” sneakers my father wouldn’t buy for me were $49. (“I don’t know where you think that money is coming from.”).

The only reason that the NY Times article doesn’t say “historic” is because the statistics PEW used have only been collected for 30 years. About a month ago I wrote here about wealth inequality actually being at historic levels. People really should stop wondering why there are bodies in the street.

5

Women’s products cost more than men’s — and the French have had enough

It costs more to be a woman than a man.

It’s an infuriating and relatively unnoticed fact: Not only do women earn less than men, all around the world, they are essentially being “taxed” for their purchases. 

Sometimes called the “invisible,” “pink” or “woman” tax, this capitalism-induced phenomenon reflects the price difference between otherwise functionally identical products marketed to women as opposed to men.

Unlike in the United States, however, France has decided to do something about it. Follow micdotcom

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White coats for black lives | December 10, 2014.

"…I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick…

I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.”

youtube

What no one wants to say about Ferguson!

Clerks sat on stools behind Plexiglas. At a window, a man pleaded with an agent, “I have to pick up my kids in less than an hour. What am I supposed to do?” At the next window, another man railed loudly and furiously, yelling, “How the hell am I supposed to get my goddam money if I can’t get to goddam work?” The clerk said, “If you can’t get cash, you can pay by credit card or cashier’s check.” The man shouted, “And if I had a goddam limousine, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”

A man waiting in line with me told me that he owned a landscaping business that depended on his truck, which had been towed three days earlier. “I can’t work,” he said. “The crew don’t work. Everything I need is in the truck.” It had been towed when he parked in a red zone in front of an auto-parts store. He’d been late to a job and ran into the store to buy a spark plug for a broken lawn mower. He didn’t have money enough that day to pay the $472 towing fee. After the first four hours, charges began accumulating—about $65.00 a day. (They didn’t include the $72 cost of the parking ticket.) He had borrowed $700, which he held near his chest in an envelope. He said it would take “I hope no more than a year” to repay the loan, for which he was being charged 50% of the loan amount. “I had no choice,” he said. He had already lost four days’ income and didn’t know how he was going to pay his bills, including rent, due that week.

When I reached the front of the line, I handed the clerk my credit card, on which she charged $472. I retrieved my car and drove home. I left behind the roomful of my fellow citizens, a disparate group bound together by the fact that they didn’t have the cash or credit required to free their impounded cars, a fact that threatened livelihoods, stressed families and broke budgets, forcing some people to choose between essentials and paying fees that would continue to accumulate and leave them without another essential, transportation, which in turn could lead to other calamities. If they didn’t find a way to pay the fees, they would ultimately lose their cars (the city auctions them), a loss that for some would be a devastating setback. For me, a towed car was an inconvenience. For them, it was a catastrophe.

Some cases of injustice in America are reported far and wide, such as the horrific shooting of Michael Brown, the unarmed man in Ferguson, Missouri, targeted by police in what many view as an egregious case of racial profiling. However, we don’t often hear about the countless quieter injustices suffered by tens of millions of Americans on a daily basis. They experience inequities of access to opportunities, quality medical and dental care, quality education, healthful food, affordable and safe housing, childcare, credit, psychological counseling, legal representation, insurance and more. For them, events that others weather unhappily but routinely—a towed car, for example—can lead to a crippling spiral of stress, debt, joblessness, illness and, in many cases, incarceration.

(via slacktivist)

America is the land of opportunity, just for some more than others.

That’s because, in large part, inequality starts in the crib. Rich parents can afford to spend more time and money on their kids, and that gap has only grown the past few decades. Indeed, economists Greg Duncan and Richard Murnane calculate that, between 1972 and 2006, high-income parents increased their spending on “enrichment activities” for their children by 151 percent in inflation-adjusted terms, compared to 57 percent for low-income parents.

But, of course, it’s not just a matter of dollars and cents. It’s also a matter of letters and words. Affluent parents talk to their kids three more hours a week on average than poor parents, which is critical during a child’s formative early years. That’s why, as Stanford professor Sean Reardon explains, “rich students are increasingly entering kindergarten much better prepared to succeed in school than middle-class students,” and they’re staying that way.

It’s an educational arms race that’s leaving many kids far, far behind.

It’s depressing, but not nearly so much as this:

Even poor kids who do everything right don’t do much better than rich kids who do everything wrong. Advantages and disadvantages, in other words, tend to perpetuate themselves. You can see that in the above chart, based on a new paper from Richard Reeves and Isabel Sawhill, presented at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s annual conference, which is underway.

Specifically, rich high school dropouts remain in the top about as much as poor college grads stay stuck in the bottom — 14 versus 16 percent, respectively. Not only that, but these low-income strivers are just as likely to end up in the bottom as these wealthy ne’er-do-wells. Some meritocracy.

What’s going on? Well, it’s all about glass floors and glass ceilings. Rich kids who can go work for the family business — and, in Canada at least, 70 percent of the sons of the top 1 percent do just that — or inherit the family estate don’t need a high school diploma to get ahead. It’s an extreme example of what economists call “opportunity hoarding.” That includes everything from legacy college admissions to unpaid internships that let affluent parents rig the game a little more in their children’s favor.

But even if they didn’t, low-income kids would still have a hard time getting ahead. That’s, in part, because they’re targets for diploma mills that load them up with debt, but not a lot of prospects. And even if they do get a good degree, at least when it comes to black families, they’re more likely to still live in impoverished neighborhoods that keep them disconnected from opportunities.

It’s not quite a heads-I-win, tails-you-lose game where rich kids get better educations, yet still get ahead even if they don’t—but it’s close enough. And if it keeps up, the American Dream will be just that.