NEW YORK ( -- The gap between the rich and the middle class is larger than it has ever been due to the bursting of the housing bubble.  The richest 1% of U.S. households had a net worth 225 times greater than that of the average American household in 2009, according to analysis conducted by the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank. That's up from the previous record of 190 times greater, which was set in 2004.

The widening gap came even as wealthy households' average net worth tumbled 27% -- to about $14 million -- between 2007 to 2009. That's the first time that they suffered a decline since the three-year period of 1992 to 1995. Meanwhile, the average family's net worth plunged 41% -- to just $62,200 -- from 2007 to 2009, according to EPI's calculations.
This all goes back to what Stephen Colbert mentioned last week, concerning the poor, because today's zeitgeist affirms free market capitalism as not only compatible but synonymous with New Testament teaching on the Kingdom of God. 

Christianity has nothing to do with free markets.

Jesus' teachings do not endorse capitalism.
(I'm not arguing here that Jesus teachings necessarily denounce capitalism either, although that is the direction I lean, theologically...)

Believe in what you want, but please don't try to pervert Christian compassion for the sake of self-justification. The cold reality is, America is now - more than ever - a nation of haves and have-nots. And while the haves have more of the collective pie than ever before, there are more have-nots than at any time since the great depression.

This Christmas, as I watch credit cards fly out of wallets to buy new TVs and other home entertainment, I'm constantly reminded that we are stretching out the last desperate gasps of society economically dying from its own consumption, while still voting to inflate the wealth of those we will never meet.  A bizarre sacrament to trickle down economics.

Economist John Quiggin wrote Zombie Economics: How Dead Ideas Still Walk Among Us.  Quiggin said recently on NPR's Marketplace:
Zombie Economics: How Dead Ideas Still Walk among UsI talk about the trickle down theory, that when you help the rich that helps everybody. I think a theory so convenient to powerful people is never going to be cured permanently... It's suggesting that keeping on giving tax cuts to the top 1 or 5 percent of the population is going to help everybody else. The evidence is very clear that that's not the case. That the vast majority of benefits of economic growth have gone to people in the top 10 percent of the income distribution. Within that 10 percent, the top 1 percent has done much better than the remaining 9 percent, and within that 1 percent, the top tenth of a percent has done even better.
If I had one wish for Christmas, it's that my friends who don't like hip hop would still give Kanye West's new album a try.  It's an incredible musical achievement.  If I had two wishes, it would be the Kanye Album, and that American voters would stop voting to expand the wealth and power of the already wealthy and powerful.  If I had three wishes, I would wish for the Kanye thing, the voters, and that all of the children of the world would join hands and sing together in a spirit of harmony and peace. 
No, no, who am I kidding! I mean, they're not gonna be able to get all those kids together! I mean, the logistics of the thing is impossible! It's more trouble than it's worth!

So, we reorganize: here we go. The first would be for $30 million a month to be given to me, tax-free in a Swiss bank account...


Existential Punk said...

Help me understand why you like Kanye's newest album so much if it has misogyny on it?

David Golden said...

Even without misogyny, I want you or someone to lead me through an acclaimed rap album and show me what you love about it. I'm a really musical dude, but somehow I've been left out of this. I know there is great music that I love that no one else gets, so I'm curious to understand this. Next blog, drop theology for a day and just do a track by track critique (and apologetic) for us novices. I have another intelligent friend who goes crazy over Jay-Z, so I'll ask him to do the same. Eventually I will achieve my goal of total cultural relevance, then world domination.

David Golden said...

By the way, I did often listen to Gil Scott Heron (who you referenced recently) when I was in college in the early 80s, and I've always thought he was amazing musically and lyrically. I guess the difference is his words are so clear and expressive, and they come at a pace that encourages me to think, rather than try to keep up.

Peter J Walker said...

Working on thoughtful responses to both of you.


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