Wealth, security evaporating for angry Americans

“I keep waking up on the wrong side of capitalism.”

So said a hand-lettered sign held by a protester at one of the “Occupy” rallies being conducted across the country.

The original “Occupy Wall Street” movement has spread from large communities to small, including Augusta and Portland.

The movement’s goals are foggy, but the basic complaint seems to be the continuing impoverishment of ordinary Americans by high unemployment and foreclosures.

Millions have exhausted their unemployment benefits. Millions of others have lost their homes in the recession or mortgage crisis. Many more are for the first time living in homes that are worth tens of thousands of dollars less than what they paid for them.

It is not a happy picture and it is leading to growing frustration and anger.

Fueling that anger is what the protesters see as rising income inequality in the U.S. Over the past 30 years, more and more of our national wealth has been concentrated in the hands of the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans.

Meanwhile, those in the bottom 10 or 20 percent find themselves hungry, homeless or without access to health care.

The wealthy, of course, have also been hit by this prolonged downturn in the economy. However, the economist Edward Wolff estimates that the average household has lost 36.1 percent of its wealth, while the top 1 percent of households lost far less, 11 percent.

When it comes to stocks, bonds, pensions, IRAs, Keoghs and 401(k) plans, the top-earning 5 percent of Americans control 72 percent of the nation’s financial wealth. The bottom 80 percent own only 7 percent, according to Wolff.

Ordinary Americans are seeing the same trend in wages and salaries. In 1965, the average American CEO earned 24 times more than the average worker, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

By 2005, executive compensation had exploded to 262 times the income of the average worker.

Even more puzzling is the way CEO compensation has far outstripped the growth of profits at U.S. companies.

The discussion is more than academic. America has always been a place where ordinary people have had a shot at improving their lives and, perhaps, living more prosperously than their parents.

However, PEW Center research shows that is quickly changing. Men in their 30s today are earning less money in inflation-adjusted dollars than men at the same age in their father’s generation.

Meanwhile, the chance of upward income mobility is now better in a host of other countries than in the U.S.

People living in Denmark, Norway, Finland, Canada, Sweden, Germany and France have a better chance of improving their lot in life than the average American.

While the “Occupy” movement has been slow to clarify its demands, two words seem to surface most often: “economic justice.”

They express the feeling of many Americans that their futures and economic security have been stolen over the past decade by forces beyond their control.

Winter will likely bring an end to the “Occupy” tent camps in major U.S. cities. But only a strong economy and more economic equality will dispel the anger.

rrhoades@sunjournal.com

The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and editorial board.

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Comments

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

"I keep waking up on the

"I keep waking up on the wrong side of capitalism."
Do you suppose it could be because you go to bed on the wrong side of it?

Steve  Dosh's picture

Wealth, security evaporating for angry Americans

. . ..Coming to a Kennedy Park near you --> http://bangordailynews.com/2011/10/20/news/augusta/occupy-maine-protest-... <-- Your children are beyond your control • Alo'ha from the coconut State /s, Dr. Dosh and ohana 2 pm hst Thursday b t w - How'd that movie night go ? ref : http://lplonline.org/2011/09/film-premiere-kids-of-the-world

MICHAEL LEBLANC's picture

Does anyone have ...

... a translator from Dosh gibberish to English?

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

He does seem to bounce

He does seem to bounce around, doesn't he?

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

A little too much pinapple

A little too much pinapple juice in the Kool-Aid, perhaps?

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

...the top-earning 5% of

...the top-earning 5% of Americans control 72% of the nation's financial wealth".
Yes and they pay 80% of the taxes, while half of the bottom 80% pay no taxes at all.

It'll be nice when those paying most of the taxes begin to show their anger. All we're getting now are hippies, slackers and those looking for someone to take their debt load of their hands as a gift.

RONALD RIML's picture

You're way off, Pirate.

How does one get off not paying taxes??

We have property taxes, sales tax, gasoline tax, telephone tax, state income tax, liquor tax, federal income tax, etc, etc, infinitum ad nauseum. If I were stupid enough to use tobacco there'd be another set of taxes....

Read the article Wealth, Income, and Power by G. William Domhoff (updated July 2011)

You'll see this breakdown of how the various income groups pay various taxes; from a low of 16% of income to a high of less than 32% - everybody pays something and no-one is getting stuck too badly. Your propaganda isn't cutting it, Pirate.....

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

I know, you've used that

I know, you've used that rebuttal before. My reference was to income taxes. Most of us realize that we're ALL getting taxed to death; we get that. If you get a chance, take a gander at an average Time Warner Cable bill. Must be 9 or 10 different "fees" and the names they have for some of these "fees" will make you laugh.

RONALD RIML's picture

Then state

You are referring only to 'Federal Income Taxes'

To write: "half of the bottom 80% pay no taxes at all" knowing that it is factually wrong is dishonest. Everybody - even children lined up to buy candy - are being hit with taxes.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Grammatically wrong, maybe,

Grammatically wrong, maybe, but factually wrong is arguable. I stand by my statement that 40% of workers who file income taxes, after deductions and government subsidized credits, pay none or very little taxes. At any rate, you expect honesty from a pirate?

RONALD RIML's picture

How familiar are you with poverty, Bob??

Two of the poorer states in the country, Alabama and Mississippi, fully tax groceries as they do any other items. A number of others tax groceries at lower levels - but still tax. Maine is an exception to the rule.

They rarely have a car?? Really? Where do you think all the clunkers go??

If they are renting - they are the ones footing the property taxes through rent.

They tend to use tobacco to a higher degree than more affluent - and more educated people.

And they also tend to eat a lot of 'fast food' - higher taxes on that.

You just haven't been out there......

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Ronald, You certainly paint a

Ronald,
You certainly paint a colorful picture of the poor in this post. Perhaps those individuals that conform to the picture you have painted fit this profile because they suffer from bad judgment rather than a side effect of being poor itself.

I would even take this a bit further and say their economic standing in our society could be the result of an accumulation of past choices.

RONALD RIML's picture

Mark -

If you interpret that as 'Colorful' - you must live in a very drab world indeed.

Many did suffer from the effects of 'bad judgement' - our county's history of slavery and racial inequity. Those were bad choices of the sins of our collective fathers which have been visited upon we sons.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Ronald, Not sure how you make

Ronald,
Not sure how you make the connection, but I’m pretty sure bad judgment is color blind.

Now that you shifted the topic, it is easy to look back in history and point out injustices. There is absolutely nothing we can do to change the past, and it is illogical to think you can. We can only control our future.

Given that 9 out of 10 times race surfaces in these discussions, it references past behaviors. Perhaps that is a statement unto itself of the progress we have made over the past 150 years.

Mark

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Dan, Perhaps you did not have

Dan,
Perhaps you did not have time to read all posts comprising this message thread. The basic theme was people who make bad choices (aka poor judgment) come from all racial groups. That is, we are all humans and a segment of the human population make bad choices, such as those Ronald refers to – smokes, drinks, and poor dietary habits. Implying that past racial inequalities is the cause, as Ronald did, is disingenuous when there is a plurality of reasons. It would have been more appropriate for Ronald to assert race is one factor and then follow-up with reasoning to support his premise. We can then debate his supporting arguments.

As for you, I’m not sure how you extrapolated that we don’t talk about color on this forum from “I’m pretty sure bad judgment is color blind.” I can only speculate.

Furthermore, you contribute absolutely nothing to the race discussion since you are so quick to pull the “bigot” trigger. You would be far more effective at removing the “camouflaging” if you engaged in dialog to remove it. That is how we can impact the present. Until then, you’ll continue to be affectionately known as the man who cries bigot for everyone who reads this blog.

Sincerely,
Mark Gravel

RONALD RIML's picture

Mark

You wrote: "we are all humans and a segment of the human population make bad choices, such as those Ronald refers to – smokes, drinks, and poor dietary habits. Implying that past racial inequalities is the cause, as Ronald did"

I did not imply that. Go back and reread it.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Then I apologize. Perhaps you

Then I apologize. Perhaps you can clarify how you shifted gears to racial inequalities in that post.

RONALD RIML's picture

Mark;

I refer you to your earlier posting of Sat, 10/22/2011 - 10:37

"You certainly paint a colorful picture of the poor in this post. Perhaps those individuals that conform to the picture you have painted fit this profile because they suffer from bad judgment rather than a side effect of being poor itself.

I would even take this a bit further and say their economic standing in our society could be the result of an accumulation of past choices."

My point was that one of the worst choices made during the formation of what is now the United States was the inclusion of slavery and all that went with it.

We are continually weakened by the long-term effects of that mistake today.

I can further develop this idea - but don't want to cloud the issue at this point.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Thank you for the

Thank you for the clarification; I did correctly interpret your implied meaning.

My challenge to you then would be to explain how you link slavery with individuals in contemporary society making bad [economic] choices.

This is of course when you are ready to discuss it.

Mark

RONALD RIML's picture

Mark;

It's the entire culture of racism which enabled slavery to exist; and many resultant problems with which we live today. Needless to say, this hatred, antagonism, and divisiveness has been obviously economically counterproductive for those on both sides of the fence.

Results??

Where do you start?

Disparities in: infant mortality, life expectancy, education, income, home-ownership, financial security, career advancement, stock ownership. The list goes on.

Choice is concomitant with opportunity.

Minority choice has been reduced due to historic choices made in the past.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Ronald, Okay, you have

Ronald,
Okay, you have provided a cause and list of effects, but now let’s explore if your effects are truly the result of your promoted cause.

Let me assert that education plays a bigger role in those disparities that you mention.
F
or example:
Education influences income, which influences home-ownership, financial security, career advancement, and stop ownership.

Education influences dietary and health habits, which influences infant mortality and life expectancy.

Income provides choices, which is influenced by education.

In my assertion, education is the root to all the disparities that you have enumerated. Would you agree that education plays a major role as I have outlined above?

Now for the sake of narrowing down our discussion, I propose that we discuss how your promoted cause affects education in contemporary society. I can think of one argument, but I want to hear your reasoning.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Amen to that, brother.

Amen to that, brother.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Did you get that Mark? You

Did you get that Mark? You and yours...he's blaming your family too.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

You have to pretty much let

You have to pretty much let what Dan says roll off; it is his way of stoking the fire.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

It's hard to imagine he

It's hard to imagine he actually believes everything he types.

RONALD RIML's picture

So help me out

I keep reading 'Bad Choices" - Yet no one is defining these choices

You mention 'Bad Judgement is color blind'

How about picking up this ball and running with it for awhile......

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

In terms of racial inequity,

In terms of racial inequity, every person is born with a clean slate. Each of us forms his own relationship with racial matters. Some are comfortable carrying a burden of guilt for sins that were committed by their forefathers. Today's liberal society encourages that. This son refuses to bear any burden of guilt for anything my great-great grandparents may have done or not done. It's tough enough being a good person without carrying all that crap around.
(Sitting back waiting for Tron to come out with the KKK cliches.)

RONALD RIML's picture

Now Pirate

Tell me what in what civilizations in history former Slaves and 'Subhumans' achieved complete economic and cultural parity with their former masters within 150 years.....

I'll be interested in the sources and references, along with links that you supply.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Now Veritas, we all know that

Now Veritas, we all know that providing links and reference sources is your schtick. Some of us express opinions, while others spurt out mindless drivel. None of us takes an oath of accuracy in what we present, and some of us may inadvertantly err in our presentations, but that does not make us liars, as we are so frequently called. Quite often those who call others liars are bigger liars themselves. Present company excepted, of course. If,however, you're suggesting that we are all saddled with the burden, today, of atoning for what happened 150 years ago, I think you may be missing the mark. This pirate ain't riding that boat.

RONALD RIML's picture

This

Shit is getting old, Dan....

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Saying you don't lie is a lie

Saying you don't lie is a lie in and of itself. How dumb do you think we are? We'd have to dig a hole to get down to your level.

RONALD RIML's picture

"My Schtick?"

Providing links and references, i.e. footnotes - is actually the proper way of doing things. Opinions, as we know, are like anuses - everyone's got one. Facts are a bit more elusive, and not so easily found. I prefer facts over opinions though that garners me many more 'disagrees' on the scoreboard.

I certainly don't expect you to ride any boat of atonement (you wouldn't climb on board if it were the only thing afloat) - but there certainly is reality.

And that 'Reality' is what is coming around to bite us in the ass. We continue to treat the 'Prodigal' as though they still really are 'Prodigals' forgetting our descendants created that bastardized system in the first place. So all too many just threw their hands up in disgust - said 'Fuck it, Man - what you want is what you get, and it ain't gonna be easy for you"

No 'Atonement' to it - we created this Frankenstein and we get to live with it.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

My schtick reference was not

My schtick reference was not a slam and was not intended to offend. I failed to mention at the time that you do it better than most, and your dedication to fact and accuracy, although anal, is admirable. The atonement reality is that we make it right in the now. You can't unring the bell and you can't undo the past.

RONALD RIML's picture

"Making it Right"

'De Jure' but not 'De Facto' (By law but not in fact)

Rather than completely integrating certain 'underclass' segments into our society, economy, and culture - we've bought them off with entitlements which they've become generationally dependent upon. I read the griping about it every day.

You've got to remember I was out on the street dealing with this with both sides for a number of years - and this isn't exactly a "Bates'y Ivory Tower" exercise for me.

We're doing much better than years ago - but still a lot of ground to plow. No atonement to it. Guilt is a worthless emotion - anybody selling that is a snake-oil hawker. One's just got to walk the walk.

I could go anywhere in the 'Hood' off-duty without a weapon because the People had my back.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

.."we've bought them off with

.."we've bought them off with entitlements which they've become generationally dependen upon"...
That's exactly what the problem is and the politicians are playing it to the hilt in their lust for votes. That's never going to end until politicians and people realize that they have to be weaned from entitlements and taught and provided with opportunities to provide for themselves. I won't bore you with the 'give a man a fish' story, but you know what I'm talking about.

RONALD RIML's picture

But obviously

Not being opportunities now for those who don't have cultural and racial prejudices existing - hell, it's much worse for those who do.

The alternative. We not only get our 'cities' (what's left of them) burnt down - the war expands.

Go finger....

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

The parrot sez we ought to

The parrot sez we ought to storm the Bastards. (I think he means Bastille.)

RONALD RIML's picture

Bourbonnais

was a Village just outside my Cown.

Due to certain, shall we say, political, economic, and cultural rivalries.... Our Townsfolk referred to our ethnically disadvantaged residents as 'Over-baked Frenchmen'

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Been hearing it all my life.

Been hearing it all my life. That's why I tend to be rather insensitive to certain thin-skinned, constantly whining 'minorities'. Deal with it, or get used to it.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

It is not hard to find

It is not hard to find statistics to support my assertion. Take for example the following employment statistics - http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/empsit.pdf , unemployment rate among college educated is about 4.3%, where as it is nearly 3x that of non-college educated.

College educated people are less likely to be obese - http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=125800

While racism exists in America, it is less of an impediment to success than some people would like to admit.

RONALD RIML's picture

And using your same statistics

The unemployment rate for Blacks is 16.1% where it is 8.7% for Whites - a significant difference.

But I agree - less educated of both races are more apt to be obese and to smoke.

RONALD RIML's picture

Correction - Town/City

Town/City

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

The real irony is that we all

The real irony is that we all know what you think. Every time you hit the keyboard, however, you do nothing more than prove just how little you actually KNOW. As Alfred E. Neumann said, "If you knew half as much as you think you know, you'd know twice as much as you really know."

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Considering the source, if it

Considering the source, if it pisses you off, I'll wear it as a badge of honor.

RONALD RIML's picture

Really, Robert

You keep setting different parameters depending on how you want your wind to blow.

Initially, Pirate referenced only 'Taxes' - that encompasses all.

Now you're saying that the discussion refers to only 'Maine' taxes. But according to 'Pirate' he meant but Federal Income Taxes.

Sorry, Robert... You claimed staples weren't taxable - They are in some parts of the U.S.

You want to argue about those in 'Poverty' - but you are obviously not truly familiar with those who live that way.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

One would have to assume

One would have to assume present company excepted, of course.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

To a liberal, truth is but a

To a liberal, truth is but a lie undiscovered.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Speaking from first hand

Speaking from first hand experience or do you just "read a lot"?

Steve  Dosh's picture

Wealth, security evaporating for angry Americans

. . ... Thursday 11.10.20 9 am - ish Why yes , the goals and objectives are quite clear ref : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capitalism:_A_Love_Story /s, Dr. Dosh and compatriots :)
Go Cards • Beat TX . N e thing good ever come out of TX ¿

David  Cote's picture

Something to chew on...

I heard a couple of "occupiers" lamenting about how they feel their student loans should be forgiven. That leads me to believe they want hand outs and entitlements. Is that the real motive behind this occupation? I went to college and took out student loans to help pay for my education. Now I work for a living having used my education and training the way I always believed it should be implemented. A friend of mine sent his kid to college where he partied for a couple of semesters, flunked out and now is a part of the occupy Boston crowd. And that clown dares to fault others who used their education and knowhow properly, interviewed for desired positions and secured their careers by putting in the time and sweat for years? I find it insulting that some fool wasted an opportunity to utilize an education and the dollars it takes for that education simply to blow it and then expect taxpayers that connected the right dots to pay for their idiocy. No one should feel ashamed for making a good fortune through dedication to their craft.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

There are three major

There are three major differences between TeaPartyers and Occupiers:
TeaPartyers have 1) Jobs 2) Showers 3) A purpose

Occupiers have: (Sound of crickets in the background)

MICHAEL LEBLANC's picture

If the "Occupy" groups ...

... are sincere about protesting and exposing the people who have caused high unemployment, the financial mess, and reduced opportunity, they should immediately redeploy their forces to the White House and the Senate side of the Capitol Building.

MICHAEL LEBLANC's picture

Wow indeed.

So, protesting the president's policies means you're not a patriot. That sure wasn't the rule from 2001 through 2008, when such protesting meant you were a patriot, according to the leftistas. Not a day went by when GWB wasn't compared to Hitler and burned in effigy, or worse. If the occupussies move to DC, they can poop on the White House lawn instead of a public street. The worst that might happen is, next Easter, some kid will find, instead of an egg, something that truly represents the current administration.

David  Cote's picture

And your message is?

Dan, are you implying the occupy crowd is capable of violence? I thought in your alledged moderate mind this was a group only interested in the justification of wealth through redistribution? You make it sound as if this motley crew would overrun the White House. Is that the message you are sending?

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Do you pay yours? Caution;

Do you pay yours? Caution; telling me to mind my own business will be interpreted by some as being a "no".

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

You've never been more

You've never been more correct about anything.

Mark Elliott's picture

I don't think we could even

I don't think we could even make a RINO out of him.......

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

He'd have to take two steps

He'd have to take two steps up the food chain even for that.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

That's because rinos are

That's because rinos are nothing more than republicans who don't mind kissing democrat butts. The only way a republican can compromise with a democrat is to give him everything he wants. Therein lies the problem. Some republicans have the gonads to stand up to the dems and this, of course, makes them the party of no. Hope that wasn't too intellectually flighty for you,T...

Mark Elliott's picture

I knew it! Deep down, you

I knew it! Deep down, you want everyone to be republicans!

David  Cote's picture

Muddying the political waters...A Breton specialty

My first question to you, Dan is this...Who is, or are, my clan? You have no clue what you are talking about regarding my political views or how I vote. As far as the implication of violence goes, I didn't read that into Mike's post. I gathered he merely was saying the occupiers were occupying the wrong patch of real estate. It was your post that opened the door to the violent connotation. And I REALLY wish you were right regarding my bank account. Unfortunately, I'm not among the "uber-wealthy" as you claim. I get up, go to work each day, spend within, and most times, below my means, (Hey, how bout that? Economic discipline!), and the last I checked my bank account there were no extra zeros following the crooked numbers. Oh, and one last thing...I received an e-mail notification from you commenting on someone else's remark. No harm I guess but it seems you were really riled up to notice you clicked on the wrong person. As Warren Zevon so eloquently put it ; "An excitable boy they all said."

Terry Donald's picture

Spot on!

Income falls for average americans, savings decreases, tax burden grows. But for those corporations that the american people built through our work and consumerism,,, income grows, tax burden falls, and their savings at an all time high stashed in foreign banks. Despite that our corporate heads continue to line up at the government hand out line, they'll spend tens of millions lobbying politicians for fewer regulations, lower taxes, but when it comes to putting more americans to work and helping create more consumers for their products??? No can't do that.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

DISAGREES 7753 AGREES

DISAGREES 7753
AGREES 3557
RATIO 2.18

NICE.....PRICELESS

RONALD RIML's picture

Hey....

I'm proud of my 'Disagrees'

Especially in this 'Crowd!'

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

For the record, the second

For the record, the second agree above is from the Pirate. I expect that will generae my first disagree. Ain't this fun?

Joe Morin's picture

oh Ron

I believe that you believe most of what you say but I suspect you are contrarian by nature. If that assumption is right then you probably wouldn't enjoy posting on a blog filled with like-minded individuals as much as this.

RONALD RIML's picture

Bingo!!!

Dr Freud, I presume.... ;)

Joe Morin's picture

Hey!

Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while! Lol

RONALD RIML's picture

Elementary, My Dear Watson....

You found your 'Nut' - (Case) in point.... ;)

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Good then, here's another

Good then, here's another one. 0O:-)

Joe Morin's picture

Dan...

..it's a sign of narcissism to speak of ones self in the third person

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Oh,oh,..the Pirate and the

Oh,oh,..the Pirate and the parrot do that all the time. Hope that doesn't get us thrown out of the Society for The Preservation of Unnarcissistic Seafarers.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

a@@--"The throat specialist

a@@--"The throat specialist makes me say that all the time", wheezed the parrot as he gargled his "Sexy Parrot" breath freshener.

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