UN: "US the world champion of extreme inequality"

When Trump said he was going to Make America Great Again, he was thinking of the Gilded Age, not the 1950's.

A UN rights expert has issued a damning report on the state of the US under President Donald Trump, saying the Republican president's tax reform plan "stakes out America's bid to become the most unequal society in the world" and "will greatly increase" income inequality.
Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and rights, made the comments on Friday, after visiting US cities and states to examine the level of homelessness and poverty facing the country.
The proposed tax reform plan "is essentially a bid to make the US the world champion of extreme inequality", Alston said in his preliminary report.

We're #1! USA! USA! Take that, Brazil.
Now before you lump this all on Trump, note that America is already more unequal than Russia, with all it's nasty oligarchs.
It's that inequality, nurtured under Clinton and Obama, that gave us the awful Republican tax plan.

What many may not realize is that growing inequality helped create the bill in the first place.
As a smaller and smaller group of people cornered an ever-larger share of the nation’s wealth, so too did they gain an ever-larger share of political power. They became, in effect, kingmakers; the tax bill is a natural consequence of their long effort to bend American politics to serve their interests.

All that robbing the poor to give to the rich isn't all bad. It's done wonders for the stock market.

Companies in the S&P 500 Index bought $3.5 trillion of their own stock between 2010 and 2016, almost 50 percent more than in the previous expansion. The pace has slowed in the last two years. The tax bill could kickstart it.
Buybacks have fueled the stock rally (there’s disagreement about how big a part they played). And the rally’s biggest benefits go to the richest. On Twitter last week, Trump invited his followers to check their swelling retirement accounts. Only about half the country’s households have any such nest-egg.
...American workers won’t put up with any more business cycles that yield them few gains, he says. “This is the last time they can get away with it, because the backlash is going to be huge.”
In the end, the trend toward inequality amounts to capitalist suicide, Spriggs argues.

It may be suicide in the long-run, but in the short run it's a bonanza. If you play it right.
wealth.png
For instance, guess what company plans to open 900 new stores in 2018 for the second year in a row?
Dollar General.

Dollar General CEO Todd Vasos puts it in the cold, hard terms of the stock market. The “middle-class continues to go away, unfortunately, to the lower end of the economic scale versus the higher end,” he said at a Goldman Sachs retailing conference in September. “So as this economy continues to chug along and creates more of our core customer, I think there’s going to be more and more opportunities for us to get in and build more stores.”

Yes, you read that right. Their "core customer" is people being pushed into poverty.
How does that work?

Dollar stores' success is based on their ability to provide what lower-income households need when they have no other options. Instead of selling items in bulk that allow for long-term savings, dollar stores sell small quantities of items that customers can afford — even if they end up paying more on a per-ounce or per-item basis in the long run.
"Essentially what the dollar stores are betting on in a large way is that we are going to have a permanent underclass in America," Garrick Brown, director for retail research at the commercial real estate company Cushman & Wakefield, told Bloomberg.
Brown continued: "It's based on the concept that the jobs went away, and the jobs are never coming back, and that things aren't going to get better in any of these places."

Kind of chokes you up, don't it?
I'm so proud to be an American.

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Comments

Arrow's picture

I want to ask this of Jim Cramer: Jim, given the extreme inequality in the country do you see a buying opportunity in riot gear and the continued militarization of 'public safety' agencies? Others have proposed a shift in American diet as a way forward. Companies like Little Debbie and Tastee Cake. More cake eating may be in the offing as conditions worsen for some classes of people going forward. I know it has been tried before with 'mixed' results. Are they a buying opportunity here as well?

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20 users have voted.

I want a Pony!

thanatokephaloides's picture

@Arrow

Others have proposed a shift in American diet as a way forward. Companies like Little Debbie and Tastee Cake. More cake eating may be in the offing as conditions worsen for some classes of people going forward. I know it has been tried before with 'mixed' results. Are they a buying opportunity here as well?

Who do you think we are, France?

Wink

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8 users have voted.

"Some members of the government are now investigating opioid pain killers but they are investigating the wrong thing. Despair-masking drugs are not the problem. Despair is."
-- featheredsprite

Arrow's picture

@thanatokephaloides history repeats itself.

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6 users have voted.

I want a Pony!

k9disc's picture

@thanatokephaloides We're going to gobble it up eagerly as fuel to take down other tribes.

Gross.
@thanatokephaloides

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5 users have voted.

“Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” ~ Sun Tzu

@thanatokephaloides

Yeah, Non-Billionaire-Americans eat shit sandwiches, not that wussy cake! Hell, they won't even get need bread with that, soon!

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4 users have voted.

Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.

snoopydawg's picture

@Arrow

IMG_1592.JPG

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16 users have voted.

I feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone stuck in a loop between Joe Mcarthy’s 1954 and George Orwell’s 1984.

lotlizard's picture

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6 users have voted.
Mark from Queens's picture

labor reporter for the NY Times (which is a position I think they ironically eliminated).

Just picked it up at the library. It's quite an extensive book of one harrowing story after another of how workers across the board have been getting destroyed by the korporate kleptocracy enshrined by "free market" capitalism. Just read the intro and chapter one and my blood was boiling. Here's an excerpt:

In his job at a Wal-Mart in Texas, Mike Michell was responsible for catching shoplifters, and he was good at it, too, catching 180 in one two-year period. But one afternoon things went wildly awry when he chased a thief—a woman using stolen checks—into the parking lot. She jumped into her car, and her accomplice gunned the accelerator, slamming the car into Michell and sending him to the hospital with a broken kneecap, a badly torn shoulder, and two herniated disks. Michell was so devoted to Wal-Mart that he somehow returned to work the next day, but a few weeks later he told his boss that he needed surgery on his knee. He was fired soon afterward, apparently as part of a strategy to dismiss workers whose injuries run up Wal-Mart’s workers’ comp bills.

Immediately after serving in the army, Dawn Eubanks took a seven-dollar-an-hour job at a call center in Florida. Some days she was told to clock in just two or three hours, and some days she was not allowed to clock in during her whole eight-hour shift. The call center’s managers warned the workers that if they went home, even though they weren’t allowed to clock in, they would be viewed as having quit.

Twenty-eight-year-old John Arnold works in the same Caterpillar factory in Illinois as his father, but under the plant’s two-tier contract, the maximum he can ever earn is $14.90 an hour, far less than the $25 earned by his father. Caterpillar, long a symbol of America’s industrial might, insists that it needs a lower wage tier to remain competitive. “A few people I work with are living at home with their parents,” Arnold said. “Some are even on food stamps.”

At a Koch Foods poultry plant in Tennessee, the managers were so intent on keeping the line running all out that Antonia Lopez Paz and the other workers who carved off chicken tenders were ordered not to go to the bathroom except during their lunch and coffee breaks. When one desperate woman asked permission to go, her supervisor took off his hard hat and said, “You can go to the bathroom in this.” Some women ended up soiling themselves.

Don Jensen anticipated a relaxing life of golf after retiring from his human resources post with Lucent Technologies in New Jersey, where he was in charge of recruiting graduates from Stanford, Cornell, MIT, and other top universities. But when Lucent increased its retirees’ health insurance premiums to $8,280 a year, up from $180, Jensen was forced to abandon his retirement. He took a job as a ten-dollar-an-hour bank teller.

As part of her software company’s last-lap sprint to get new products out the door, Myra Bronstein sometimes had to work twenty-four hours straight testing for bugs. She felt great loyalty to the Seattle-area company because its executives had repeatedly promised, “As long as we’re in business, you have a job.” But one Friday morning the company suddenly fired Bronstein and seventeen other quality assurance engineers. The engineers were told that if they wanted to receive severance pay, they had to agree to spend the next month training the workers from India who would be replacing them.

One of the least examined but most important trends taking place in the United States today is the broad decline in the status and treatment of American workers—white-collar and blue-collar workers, middle-class and low-end workers—that began nearly three decades ago, gradually gathered momentum, and hit with full force soon after the turn of this century. A profound shift has left a broad swath of the American workforce on a lower plane than in decades past, with health coverage, pension benefits, job security, workloads, stress levels, and often wages growing worse for millions of workers.

That the American worker faces this squeeze in the early years of this century is particularly troubling because the squeeze has occurred while the economy, corporate profits, and worker productivity have all been growing robustly. In recent years, a disconcerting disconnect has emerged, with corporate profits soaring while workers’ wages stagnated.

In 2008 when the book came out he was on Democracy Now.

What would be a great idea, I think, is if the 99% had a repository of shared grievances of how folks have been personally effected by this economic depression caused by corporate and banking greed and malfeasance. Nothing is more effective in getting to a solution than for people reading to see and recognize themselves in these stories, and then being motivated by shared experience to see power in their solidarity and then finding the gumption to stand together to fight against these scumbags.

One of my favorite examples of this was during OWS when as part of the Move Your Money protest, people were given the emails of the CEO's of the Big Banks and told to email their stories directly to them. It resulted in a book called "The Trouble Is The Banks," which for a while was also a website featuring these well-written, often witty stories. Of course it appears that the Economic Terrorists, flush with bailout money, sought to wipe clean any critical challenges by small entities of their dominance - and now this good website can't be found anymore.

Bernie Sanders did a similar thing, in asking his constituents to share their stories of how the economic crash of 2008 has effected them.

Question, why when I do a duckduckgo search of "bernie sanders vermont stories of economic crash," do I get all these negative RW stories about Jane Sanders, FBI probe, etc?

And also, why, in the search that only turned up a HuffCompost story on it, is the link to, what the article says are 700 personal stories collected by Bernie, now a 404 Page Not Found?

Starting to worry about this whole Net Neutrality thing more and more, along with fascist oligarch money used to wipe sites out and records off the internet.
Even more reason to hold onto your books, folks.

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32 users have voted.

(thirty three and a third at TOP)

"If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph:

THE ONLY PROOF HE NEEDED
FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
WAS MUSIC"

- Kurt Vonnegut

snoopydawg's picture

@Mark from Queens

At one time this was illegal and if an employer fired anyone who was on workers compensation from a work place injury, they would be fined $10,000 for doing it. If this guy had opened a workers comp claim, then Walmart should have had to cover it anyway, but people aren't aware of what their rights are. If anyone is injured at your work place, try to go through your medical insurance instead. This has gotten much worse since I was injured 20 years ago. And make sure that you have a designated doctor to treat you on file. If not, your employer can send you to one of those factory injured workers places where you will be told that nothing is wrong with you. Fighting for treatment is very difficult.

Instead of our government going against the constitution and censoring us, they are telling the corporations to do it. Google, Twitter and Facebook are helping them do it, and rolling back net neutrality will finish it.

As to the Jane Sanders FBI investigation, this is how Bernie is going to be neutered if he runs again.

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15 users have voted.

I feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone stuck in a loop between Joe Mcarthy’s 1954 and George Orwell’s 1984.

snoopydawg's picture

In a sane world that would embarrass our government, but we haven't lived in a sane world for many decades. The minimum wage was $3.25 when I started working after high school and it's gone up $4.00 in 40 years? Now companies and Herheinous think that a $15.00 minimum wage is too high?

Republicans know that the tax bill is going to effect so many people who are already living on the edge, but they don't care. They're proving that by telling us that they are going to cut our social safety networks.

I had a graphic that showed how the increasing income inequality got worse from 2008-2015 which showed how it was during the Great Depression. It's now the same as it was then. Clinton teed it up for Bush who did nothing to stop it and then Obama did nothing to help the people who it affected. Now Trump gets his turn on the wheel and the FDR New Deal is being finally being dismantled.

Next up is the cashless society where the banks get to nickel and dime us to death for keeping our money in their banks. Yippee! I'm hoping that I shuffle off this mortal coil before that happens and when the republicans get to gut the social programs I rely on, it shouldn't take long...

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21 users have voted.

I feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone stuck in a loop between Joe Mcarthy’s 1954 and George Orwell’s 1984.

SnappleBC's picture

@snoopydawg

Obama did nothing to help the people who it affected.

To help the plutocratic thieves who created it. As I remember it, he gave them all immunity deals where needed and a crap-load of money for their service.

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5 users have voted.

A lot of wanderers in the U.S. political desert recognize that all the duopoly has to offer is a choice of mirages. Come, let us trudge towards empty expanse of sand #1, littered with the bleached bones of Deaniacs and Hope and Changers.
-- lotlizard

I’m genuinely curious. As the quoted Bloomberg article points out, both parties have brought us to this point. While the Democrats didn’t vote for this tax bill, they didn’t need to. Up to this point, they’ve expressed no concern about changing anything, often explicitly stating so. They’ve done everything they can do to marganialize and neuter those speaking out for economic justice.

So I want to know, what does a backlash look like? Voting the “opposition party” isn’t going to change anything and third parties aren’t in a position to do much, even if people break out of their politics brand identity. Is he implying protests? Revolution? Something else?

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15 users have voted.
The Aspie Corner's picture

Human and labor rights here and abroad are at a point even lower than just before the Great Depression, and neither faction of the Republican-Democrat Property Uniparty gives a shit, fuck or god damn.

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17 users have voted.
Bollox Ref's picture

of The Jungle.

Good times for the 99%. Ham sandwich anyone?

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11 users have voted.

Gëzuar!!
from a reasonably stable genius.

divineorder's picture

.... Caucus up!

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11 users have voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

snoopydawg's picture

@divineorder

when there are 18.5 million empty homes in America. People should have had the option to buy their homes back at the reduced price they were sold to the financial institutions and corporations that have bought up homes so they could rent them out. This is what the HAMP program was meant to do, but the banks continued to commit fraud against the people that they were being paid to refinance their homes for. While one person from the banks would tell people to quit paying their mortgages while their homes were being refinanced, another person at the banks were working on the home's foreclosure. The robo MERS that were signed and the banks were going to courts and getting hundreds of homes foreclosed on. The judges had to have known that something fishy was going on, but they too played their part in it.

3.5 Million Americans are Homeless. 18.6 Million Homes are Empty. WHAT’s WRONG?

The ratio of empty homes to homeless people is still approximately six to one – and that doesn’t account for empty, unused government buildings that could be converted into

and then there's all the empty malls that went belly up after the Great Recession.

The fire in the Bel Air area is said to have been started by a homeless person who was cooking something while the winds were blowing over 50 miles an hour. Oprah, Ellen, Rob Lowe and other rich people have had to evacuate their homes and gone to live in one of their other homes.

Add on top of the people who lost their homes because of financial difficulties to the people who lost their homes to the California wildfires and the people in Huston and Florida who lost their homes to the hurricanes and there are a lot of families looking for rental housing which might cost them more than their mortgages did.

Now add on the number of people who are going to be effected by the tax increases and the decrease in social programs..... we're in for a fun ride.

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18 users have voted.

I feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone stuck in a loop between Joe Mcarthy’s 1954 and George Orwell’s 1984.

divineorder's picture

@snoopydawg there nothing that be can be done besides bear witness to all the fail sd?

I look at what all the overworked nurses of National Nurses Unitee have done and political actions they have taken in the name of their patients and families and I have to think there is more we could be doing.

They came out big for bernie, for transaction tax and much more. Purchased a bus for use during the primary . Didn't cynically give up after the primary, but have pushed for Californian and national universal healthcare. Yes we can do more. Not just talk and cluck our tongues.

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10 users have voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

snoopydawg's picture

@divineorder

what is being done to us. I applaud those who are doing what they can to bring attention to this and other issues. We've seen people risking being arrested for protesting against the tax bill and, the DAPL pipeline, the police brutality and the bank bailouts, but so far nothing has stopped what they are/were protesting against.

You're right that the nurses have gone to bat for their working conditions and patient care in California and they made great progress their goals.

I appreciate your optimism and upbeat attitude and I'm sorry that I haven't said anything about this before.

And just bearing witness to what's being done to us will be our epithet if they achieve their objectives without us fighting them. I'm in on the plan if someone comes up with one. I'll march beside you my friend when the time comes.

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12 users have voted.

I feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone stuck in a loop between Joe Mcarthy’s 1954 and George Orwell’s 1984.

divineorder's picture

@snoopydawg wonder if you write Letters to the editor or op ed's? Just curious. Smile jb and I were talking last night about wanting to see more action steps to avoid despair.

We are trying to educate our friends by sharing Caitlin on FB.

Planning on checking this out ^^^^^

###
We volunteer for and donate to WEG because of their work for wildl8fe, climate, tree planting river habitat resorption and more.

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7 users have voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

SnappleBC's picture

@divineorder

That's why I try to blow wind in the sails of any organization trying to help clump up all the myriad progressive groups. We are helpless until we get more united.

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4 users have voted.

A lot of wanderers in the U.S. political desert recognize that all the duopoly has to offer is a choice of mirages. Come, let us trudge towards empty expanse of sand #1, littered with the bleached bones of Deaniacs and Hope and Changers.
-- lotlizard

The Aspie Corner's picture

Isn't this how American factory workers were treated 100 years ago? Jimmy is right. This is worse than the Gilded Age.

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10 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

@The Aspie Corner

the world, yet he won't let his drivers go to the bathroom?

$200 million per hour? This is obscene. Wow, worse than the Gilded Age? Well we know what happened to bring that to a stop!

Here's a cure for psychopathothy. (new word)

IMG_1592_0.JPG

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7 users have voted.

I feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone stuck in a loop between Joe Mcarthy’s 1954 and George Orwell’s 1984.

...see
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/dec/15/america-extreme-poverty-...
...and
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/dec/15/america-un-extreme-pover...

And this isn't new, as most here no doubt realize. Back in the mid-'70s I read (I think in Monthly Review, if anybody remembers that) an article discussing this sudden divergence of wages and productivity growth that appeared in 1974. And of course after Paul Volker's recession and then Reagan's shredding of social programs, it became much worse and you started seeing this new phenomenon of chronic homelessness. 40 years later, capitalism still stinks.

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eyo's picture

North Coast wineries, breweries, distilleries benefit under GOP tax package

Local wineries, breweries and distilleries are big winners in the GOP tax package, which would slash their tax bills following a concerted lobbying effort by the alcohol beverage industry to reduce the federal excise tax on its products.

The package, which is expected to be voted on by Congress this week, would help small boutique wineries and craft brewers as well as large producers like Jackson Family Wines of Santa Rosa and Lagunitas Brewing Co. of Petaluma.

A winery could receive a maximum tax credit of $451,700 annually under the bill, said Robert P. “Bobby” Koch, president and chief executive officer of the Wine Institute, which represents California wineries.

Ds help write the bill they know will pass, then vote nay to pad their records. I think that is wrong.

The provisions were from a bill named the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, which was co-sponsored by Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, was key to the victory as he placed the provision in the Senate version that was ultimately accepted by House conferees and added to the tax package, which was released Friday night.

Thompson, however, opposes the overall tax package despite his support for the alcohol-related provisions.

Heineken owns Lagunitas, they are a global brand not a small business. Pelosi owns a vineyard, what does she get? Newsom is a PlumpJack partner, etc.. California D-Values are all about exploiting immigrants, couching it as opportunity for all. I don't think so, I think it stinks. PU

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11 users have voted.

On a blog.

@eyo

Ds help write the bill they know will pass, then vote nay to pad their records. I think that is wrong.

It absolutely is wrong. Unfortunately with the media covering this as they do (McResistance style), they’ll probably get away with it. Just like they planned. Heads, they win. Tails, we lose.

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5 users have voted.
SnappleBC's picture

@Dr. John Carpenter

As will those still caught in the liberal bubble. But I certainly remember what the Democrats did the last time they had power. Anyone who tells me I should work to put them in power again is going to need to explain to me why it'll be different than last time. Perhaps this time it'll be Goldman-Sachs who appoints the cabinet rather than Citicorp? That'd be a change.

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5 users have voted.

A lot of wanderers in the U.S. political desert recognize that all the duopoly has to offer is a choice of mirages. Come, let us trudge towards empty expanse of sand #1, littered with the bleached bones of Deaniacs and Hope and Changers.
-- lotlizard

Lookout's picture

Income inequality in the United States is suppressing growth in aggregate demand (spending by households, businesses, and governments) by shifting an ever larger share of income to rich households that save rather than spend. This rise in inequality has been overwhelmingly driven by the failure of pay for typical American workers to keep pace with economy-wide productivity growth. http://www.epi.org/publication/secular-stagnation/

Stacy had a great line in the Keiser report the other day. As the US global footprint grows, the welfare of the citizens declines. (or something like that). She compares and contrasts the tax cuts with average folks trying to get healthcare.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpbKrohmq8M

Much like the insanity of climate chaos as we push for more and dirtier oil, we have massive inequality that will be multiplied by the tax cuts/increase. Both examples display our failure as a nation and economy.

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10 users have voted.

“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”