Streams

The Cost of Inequality in America

Monday, January 13, 2014

David Dante Troutt looks at the cost of inequality in the country. He writes of the problems facing working- and middle class-communities: fiscal stress, urban decline, environmental sprawl, failing schools, mass incarceration, political isolation, disproportionate foreclosures, and severe public health risks. In The Price of Paradise: The Cost of Inequality and the Vision for a More Equitable America, he argues that adopting policies that take all class levels into consideration.

Guests:

David Dante Troutt

Comments [22]

amalgam from NYC by day, NJ by night

@ jgarbuz -

Where is the evidence of your claim - a common right wing canard and talking point for generations - that there a many Americans "who could do something if they were not incentivized to do nothing by 'poverty pimps'..."

The vast majority of all people not only HAVE to work, they WANT to work. Period.

Moreover, I reject your underlying premise that it is the "rise of welfare state" that has lowered peoples'"incentive to go out and seek their fortunes elsewhere. We have become risk-adverse due to the rise of welfarism."

It is technology and globalization - which you often cite and lightly touch upon here - that are the primary drivers in the current American mobility decrease. Because of "telecommuting," work-from-home arrangements, international labor competition, etc., mobility becomes at once less necessary and more complicated. Add to that the fact that industries are increasingly becoming standardized in one region to the next, albeit in a proportionally different composition, (e.g., most every region has some variable mix of service industry, healthcare, high tech, knowledge economy, etc.), then the traditional job-related reasons to move are diminished. Finally, because of political and cultural affinities, people have been sorting themselves into areas of like-minded communities(i.e., Red state vs. Blue state or pockets thereof).

Therefore, it is not simply an "increasing dependence by American on government assistance" that provides "less incentive to go out and seek their fortunes elsewhere," but rather American mobility has changed due to shifts in the [global] economy, technological connectivity and cultural associations (i.e., networks).

Jan. 13 2014 03:11 PM
mark From Astoria

Here's what we need: Soak-the-rich taxes on a progressive scale to pop the bubble at the top, drown the military budget in the bathtub, nationalize all energy, reinstate anti-trust laws and very strict financial regulations with serious criminal punishment attached to it.
Result: Universal healthcare for all, free college education for all, a lower cost of living and cleaner environment, economic equality breeding a more dignified culture with access for all, a bigger trust of public and not private common area and a far higher standard of living for all citizens.

Jan. 13 2014 03:07 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

http://money.cnn.com/2013/04/01/pf/taxes/top-income-tax/

"At 60.2%, Denmark last year had the highest top personal income tax rate among the 34 countries in the OECD, an organization of developed and emerging countries. And that 60.2% applied to income over roughly $55,000."

Jan. 13 2014 01:03 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

http://money.cnn.com/2013/04/01/pf/taxes/top-income-tax/

"At 60.2%, Denmark last year had the highest top personal income tax rate among the 34 countries in the OECD, an organization of developed and emerging countries. And that 60.2% applied to income over roughly $55,000."

Jan. 13 2014 01:03 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

To Henry from MD

>Even today, if you look at the way countries like Denmark or Norway, which have tempered capitalism with social political wisdom, have tackled this problem you would find that they are much closer to dealing with the root causes of inequality than other countries including ours.<

Norway today is a petro-state, like the Emirates of the Gulf. Denmark takes 56% of your income in taxes, versus 25% in the US. In Israel they were taking 56% of my income versus 23% in the US back in the 1980s. If you are happy to pay more than half your income in taxes, you are welcome to the wonders of Scandinavian socialism.

Jan. 13 2014 12:54 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

To RUCB_ALUM

>Think about the impact of four dollar a gallon gasoline in 2008. By letting it go on for six months, Bush brought on the sub-prime mortgage crisis. <

I was paying nearly $4 a gallon in ISrael back in the 1980s, which is why I had a Subaru 1000 CC 3 cylinder van which could seat 8 and yet gave me 40 miles to the gallon. I also has an apartment in Israel that was "underwater" (worth less than the mortgage) for over a decade until I was finally able to sell it to a Bedouin and get my money out, but just barely. But I don't see the connection between the price of gas and my apartment becoming worth less than than the bank note. It had to do with socialist policies that thankfully were eventually removed by Netanyahu a decade later on.

Jan. 13 2014 12:49 PM
henry from md

To suggest that inequality can only be lessened through advances in science &
technology NOT distribution or opportunity rather than changes in the economic, political system leaves out more than it addresses. I would have hoped we had learned more from past experience.
Even today, if you look at the way countries like Denmark or Norway, which have tempered capitalism with social political wisdom, have tackled this problem you would find that they are much closer to dealing with the root causes of inequality than other countries including ours.
You will find there more equality, better health and greater happiness than elsewhere.

Jan. 13 2014 12:46 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

There always was a top 1% and always will be a top 1%. Get over it. It's a fact of nature.

Jan. 13 2014 12:44 PM
Mark From Astoria

When 400 people in America have more wealth than 150,000,000 you can fairly say that the American Dream is officially dead.
Yet these stark figures and the accompanying images of abject poverty which are being visited upon by a staggering amount of Americans as we speak by and large aren't covered by the bought and paid for corporate media. We bury our heads in the consumer product sand, skim FB and are impaired by a seriously inhibited sense of empathy, desensitized by a worship of material gain for ourselves. While injustice and inequality wreak havoc on all of us, but most brutally on the poor, disenfranchised and marginalized, we instead stay vigilant to adopt the propagandist rhetoric of the partisan political machine, which has us fighting one another. Instead of recognizing we're a populace under siege by a cabal of banks, foreign money interests and corporate monopolies we're unwittingly throwing rocks at each other from either the Democratic or Republican side of the field. Divide and Conquer. We've ben duped.
Justice Brandeis called it out, just as Pope Francis has too, with an understanding that Karl Marx was 100% correct in: "You can have wealth concentrated in the hands of the few, or you can have democracy. But you can't have both."
We'll never be able to rise out of this crushing economic inequality if we don't start uniting on this fast. Wall St is still plundering at record speed and there are very little speed bumps. We the People have the power, if we want it. But we have to recognize that notion, and more importantly who the culprits are and aren't.

Jan. 13 2014 12:42 PM
Mark from Astoria

When 400 people in America have more wealth than 150,000,000 you can fairly say that the American Dream is officially dead.
Yet these stark figures and the accompanying images of abject poverty which are being visited upon by a staggering amount of Americans as we speak by and large aren't covered by the bought and paid for corporate media. We bury our heads in the consumer product sand, skim FB and are impaired by a seriously inhibited sense of empathy, desensitized by a worship of material gain for ourselves. While injustice and inequality wreak havoc on all of us, but most brutally on the poor, disenfranchised and marginalized, we instead stay vigilant to adopt the propagandist rhetoric of the partisan political machine, which has us fighting one another. Instead of recognizing we're a populace under siege by a cabal of banks, foreign money interests and corporate monopolies we're unwittingly throwing rocks at each other from either the Democratic or Republican side of the field. Divide and Conquer. We've ben duped.
Justice Brandeis called it out, just as Pope Francis has too, with an understanding that Karl Marx was 100% correct in: "You can have wealth concentrated in the hands of the few, or you can have democracy. But you can't have both."
We'll never be able to rise out of this crushing economic inequality if we don't start uniting on this fast. Wall St is still plundering at record speed and there are very little speed bumps. We the People have the power, if we want it. But we have to recognize that notion, and more importantly who the culprits are and aren't.

Jan. 13 2014 12:41 PM

@jgarbuz

"I'm (t)alking about people who could do something if they were not incentivized to do nothing by "poverty pimps" whose bureaucratic and political careers depend on their votes."

Now you are demagoguing.

Think about the impact of four dollar a gallon gasoline in 2008. By letting it go on for six months, Bush brought on the sub-prime mortgage crisis. The problem was there and smoldering...Bush's neglect - or more correctly his adherence to outdated 'free market' principle nearly swamped us all. And the epicenter of the foreclosure crisis? Middle class workers who lived in suburban communities that HAD NO ACCESS to light rail and other commuter lines. These households needed three or four vehicles in order to maintain their lifestyle - Dad works, mom works, kids work or go to school - and they were between the rock and the hard place of buying gas or paying the mortgage.

Jan. 13 2014 12:39 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

More blah blah blah by the never ending expansion of left wing professors scribbling books for a living while sheltered in tenured work places. So much humbug!

Jan. 13 2014 12:38 PM

@jgarbuz

"You missed my reply to you in the last segment..." No, I missed nothing. I replied at that space.

Jan. 13 2014 12:31 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

To RUCB_ALUM

>Look harder...The answer is more complex.<

No you are adding complexity to a very simple problem. The more you pay people to do nothing, the more people will do nothing. I'm not talking about people who really cannot do anything because they are really too old, sick and disabled. I'm alking about people who could do something if they were not incentivized to do nothing by "poverty pimps" whose bureaucratic and political careers depend on their votes.

Jan. 13 2014 12:30 PM
J. Mullen from UWS

Explain the moves to rust belt small towns, which are now like gangland U.S.A.;
violence, drugs, guns.

Jan. 13 2014 12:26 PM

@jgarbuz

"...We have become risk-adverse (sic) due to the rise of welfarism."

Nope. What you are labelling as welfarism grew because individual incomes were not large enough to support the population. And truthfully these only apply to the bottom 20% of the population. Gov't transfer payments raise their take of GDP from 2.5% to 4.5%.

Look harder...The answer is more complex.

Jan. 13 2014 12:24 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

To RUCB_ALUM

You missed my reply to you in the last segment. You are referring to American incomes in post-WWII America versus global incomes. America had unfair advantages that enabled Americans to make 5 to 10 times or more the global average. Americans were the 1% of the world, so to speak. Globalization means a fairer distribution of incomes in places like China and India which can now attract capital and thus raise their income levels compared to Americans. So your critique is purely domestic and very narrow. Americans and Europeans are the top 1%. Now the other 99% of the globe is coming up thanks to globalization, and we are losing some market share as a result.

Jan. 13 2014 12:20 PM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

The guest is avoiding the question. Equality leads to massive social disorder and brake of societies into violence and chaos. Leading to the break of the state. Mexico is an excellent example. An unequal society where a good job is to work for a drug gang.
And the drug gangs control the state completely.

Jan. 13 2014 12:18 PM

Wow! A second chance to post my income distribution analogy on WNYC in one day.

$4,400 is to $654 billion, as $106,000 is to $15.7 trillion. ['63 Income: '63 GDP:: 2013 Income: 2013 GDP] Therefore, if you are earning less than $106K, you command fewer goods and services than the average 1963 worker. Wanna be really frightened? If you are earning less than $60,000 you have less buying power than the MINIMUM wage worker of 1963! [Median US 2013 income is under $60,000 - so by definition half of American households are getting by on less buying power than the minimum wage worker of 1963.]

The US Gini coefficient - the measure of how income is spread - has been climbing since '68. How do we fix this?

Jan. 13 2014 12:16 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Your guest has it backwards. Traditionally Americans had the ability to MOVE from place to place to find work, or to seek fortunes out West in gold mining or oil or other natural resources, etc. In the process Americans built towns and cities and brought "civilization" to wastelands inhabited by hunter-gathering peoples. Since the rise of the welfare state, and increasing dependence by American on government assistance, there is less incentive to go out and seek their fortunes elsewhere. We have become risk-adverse due to the rise of welfarism. So I reject the premises of your left wing guest professor who make their livings in the security of their ivory towers.

Jan. 13 2014 12:16 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Class war goes back hundreds if not thousands of years, with slave and peasant uprisings, and of course most notably the Bolshevik revolution of 1917. But most actual improvements in the daily lives of people has been due to revolutions in science and technologies, not in political ones. Obesity today is a problem thanks to too much food and relatively fewer people earning their bread by "the sweat of their brows." So whatever improvements, if any, are to come in the future, they will be the result of more science and technology and not due to any political theories or political revolutions. They can only make things worse, as they did with the failed theories of Marx.

Jan. 13 2014 12:08 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Class war goes back hundreds if not thousands of years, with slave and peasant uprisings, and of course most notably the Bolshevik revolution of 1917. But most actual improvements in the daily lives of people has been due to revolutions in science and technologies, not in political ones. Obesity today is a problem thanks to too much food and relatively fewer people earning their bread by "the sweat of their brows." So whatever improvements, if any, are to come in the future, they will be the result of more science and technology and not due to any political theories or political revolutions. They can only make things worse, as they did with the failed theories of Marx.

Jan. 13 2014 12:07 PM

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