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Written by an American expat living in the E.U. (who holds a M.B.A. degree). This diary is a review of the Spiegel article entitled "Has America Become an Oligarchy?" from the perspective of a business librarian.
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Spiegel quote: 2002 and 2007, 65 percent of the income gains went to the top 1%
“Spiegel quote: Indeed, if you look at the reports it compiles on every country in the world, even the CIA has concluded that wealth disparity is greater in the US than in Tunisia or Egypt.
Late last year this mainstream German news outlet asked, has America become an Oligarchy?Has America stopped being a mixed economy?
Spiegel quote: "A generation ago, the United States was a recognizable, if somewhat more unequal, member of the cluster of affluent democracies known as mixed economies, where fast growth was widely shared. No more. Since around 1980, we have drifted away from that mixed-economy cluster, and traveled a considerable distance toward another: the capitalist oligarchies, like Brazil, Mexico...
Clearly, the subject matter presented by the article asking if America has turned into a Oligarchy is not news to American elites, who in fact not only know all about it already, but the truth be known simply put they like it that way. The Spiegel article which may be shocking to the sensibilities of the American plutocrat owned media correctly portrays an American society which has become essentially speaking depoliticized, wherein elections have become by way of sophistry a meaningless public relations extravaganza that has been bought by private capital in support of a legalized robber baron system of theft.
Spiegel quote:“Experts now say the US has entered a second Gilded Age, but one in which hedge fund managers have replaced oil barons -- and are killing the American dream…..
As such the American working class voters have become frustrated and atomized in their anger, wherein millions don't know the way out and no longer know how to react. We see the American Occupy movement is referred to in the Spiegel article as a real grassroots effort by the American working class in a first real attempt to organize to resist the assault on the American working class, which is something that hasn't happened in America since the 1970s. Clearly the Occupy movement has a long way to go, yet the Occupy movement offers real hope for peaceful, non-violent change in the American body politic. Clearly the so-called "flexible American labor force" is considered by my fellow MBAs and by economists to be a wonderful thing, clearly they consider the modus operandi of a flexible labor force to be a marvelous way to control and crush labor while concurrently increasing the power and wealth of the American ruling class in what must be seen as a pure act of economic aggression in the GOP-led class warfare against the American working class.
By way of history though it is not mentioned in the Spiegel article, this reviewer offers the history of the temple's former high priest, Mr Alan Greenspan who as 'Saint Alan' was worshiped by my fellow MBAs and economists alike, wherein Saint Alan testified to Congress of his outstanding success in managing and growing worker insecurity, so as it keep people afraid and complacent to the point where in America (as demonstrated by the OECD chart below), we see that America is rated dead last in the world compared to other major industrialized nations and it is this international badge of shame that must be hung around the neck of Saint Alan and his worshipers, all of whom prostrate themselves in front of the idol at the altar of unbridled avarice, who wear said idol as the mark of an American pariah state, who have legalized a system of theft and oppression, whose wealth is built on worker insecurity, exploitation and whose youth after graduating from college are forced to live back home in the basements of their parents underwater mortgages, where they themselves are left to drown in student loan debt.
For example, the average income for securities traders has steadily climbed to $360,000 a year…….
Still, that's nothing compared to the trend in executives' salaries. In 1980, American CEOs earned 42 times more than the average employee. Today, that figure has skyrocketed to more than 300 times. Last year, 25 of the country's highest-paid CEOs earned more than their companies paid in taxes……..
By way of comparison, top executives at the 30 blue-chip companies making up Germany's DAX stock market index rarely earn over 100 times the salaries of their low-level employees, and that figure is often around 30 or 40 times.”
It is from this reality that the mainstream European media as demonstrated by the Spiegel with righteous indignation launches its diatribe asking, has America become an Oligarchy? Though not stated in the article its clear to its European readers that this article is written from a perspective where unlike in America, everyone has medical coverage whereas in America there are 59 million medically uninsured Americans, 132 million Americans who don't have dental insurance, 45 million Americans who are left on food stamps.
Is social/economic mobility in America dead?
Spiegel quote: But studies show that increasing inequality and political control concentrated in the hands of the wealthy elite have drastically reduced economic mobility and that the US has long since fallen far behind Europe on this issue. Indeed, only 4 percent of less-well-off Americans ever successfully make the leap into the upper-middle class.
Unlike in the United States, university education in continental Europe is almost completely free of charge, wherein most American students pay more in textbooks per year than continental Europeans pay in tuition. Workers are required by law in the European Union to receive 4 weeks of paid vacation and are entitled to paid sick leave and paid maternity leave, whereas in America the labor laws for employers are not required to provide any paid sick leave or paid maternity leave.
Is 2012 America's New Gilded Age?
Spiegel quote:Economists and political scientists believe the US has entered a new Gilded Age, a period of systematic inequality dominated by a new class of super-rich. The only difference is that, this time around, the super-rich are hedge fund managers and financial magnates instead of oil and rail barons.”
In the United States, American workers find themselves unable, indeed too afraid to use their meager 10 day (or 2 weeks) of paid annual leave. Their worker insecurity is such they feel to do so would risk losing their jobs and cause them to fall in the unemployment line in a clear posture, where US unemployed workers usually lose their medical insurance. Unlike their counterparts in Europe everyone is medically insured (from cradle-to-grave) even the unemployed and their families as a basic human right. But then nobody is accusing the European Union of being an Oligarchy and during this 2012 election it's worth remembering: Europe is still moving further to the left as we see in the expression of the French election which has just elected a Socialist government so as to provide even greater protection for working class people.
Spiegel quote:“Writer Mark Twain coined the phrase "the Gilded Age" to describe that period of rapid growth, a time when the dazzling exterior of American life actually concealed mass unemployment, poverty and a society ripped in two ………….
Considering the plight of America's nouveau poor, please feel invited to give a close read to the graph below.
Spiegel quote:“This is part of a development, they argue, that has been under way for years but remained largely hidden in the years of cheap credit, rising real estate prices and excessive consumption -- when it seemed everyone was on the way up. And the problems only came to light with the arrival of the financial crisis.”
“Inequality in America is greater than it has been in almost a century. Those fortunate enough to belong to the 1 percent, made up of the super-rich, stand on one side of the divide; the remaining 99 percent on the other. Even for a country that has always accepted opposite extremes as part of its identity, the chasm has simply grown too vast.”“Still, statistics indicate that the growing disparity is genuinely overwhelming.
In fact, the 400 wealthiest Americans now own more than the "lower" 150 million Americans put together.”
Spiegel quote:....today's financial and economic system makes it impossible for individuals' self-serving behavior to ultimately contribute to the prosperity of society as a whole, as Smith had envisioned it. Instead, it leads to an economy in which only the fittest survive -- and the general public is left behind.
To read the full Spiegel article please click on the link below! Thanks.
In terms of social mobility did you know that 96 percent of working class Americans
fail to make it in to the upper middle class? Doesn't that give new meaning to the words only in America? As American social mobility has long since fallen behind Europe!!
Is this why there are over 5 million American expats in the world today? As such the American economy has taken on a Kafkaesque flair.
(Franz Kafka was a Austro-Hungarian author whose name transcends literature. The term Kafkaesque has come to be known (in the context of the above quote) as being incomprehensibly bizarre. The tattered American social safety net is seen as a crime of moral turpitude against vulnerable working class families being thrown to the wolves in the GOP-led class warfare against the American working class. As this Kafkaesque odyssey continues, the numbers of the Nouveau poor are being swelled by working Americans many of whom have advanced degrees, many of whom have come to rely on food stamps in order to keep food on the table.
Working class Americans from every background are made to feel the pain inflicted on us by the plutocracy. No one is safe anymore.
To win in America all we have to do is to care about each other and stick together!
If we are looking for change we must look to the Occupy movement to provide that peaceful nonviolent approach to change in helping to elect better progressive politicians to public office. The Occupy movement and the American unions are the last great hope of the American working class dream!!
(Cross posted by author from the Daily Kos.)