Wealth

Where are the Populists?

Michael Collins

"There
are two ideas of government. There are those who believe that if you
just legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous, that their prosperity
will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea has been that if
you legislate to make the masses prosperous their prosperity will find
its way up and through every class that rests upon it.
William Jennings Bryan, 1896

Populism is broadly defined
as "political ideas and activities that are intended to represent
ordinary people's needs and wishes." The majority are  deliberately
held down by the financial elite.  Removal of the financial elite is
the vehicle to realize the "people's needs and wishes." (Graph)

The
statement from William Jennings Bryan is pure populism. It becomes less
pure as he proceeded with his speech. He used a metaphor of burning
down the nation's big cities since they were, he claimed, the
stronghold of the financial elite and support for the gold standard for
currency.

In practice, populism almost always entails anger and resentment.

It's the Inequality, Stupid!

Crossposted at DKos. Graphs there are in wider format.


Updated numbers and commentary from Emmanuel Saez (h/t Krugman) reminds us just how bad things are and have been for a while.  One might hope that the current economic crisis does not divert our attention from the longer term issues.  


I would argue that pretty much all of our problems and issues, be it health care, education, environment, collapsing public infrastructure, jobs, trade, taxes, and yes right-wing populism can be directly linked to income and wealth inequality.  And the fact that inequality has gotten MUCH MUCH worse ever since 1979-1980 (I suggest looking up who became president in the United States at that time):



 


On the one hand, it is not just a U.S. story. Income inequality has risen throughout the developed world, according the OECD.

"Spreading The Wealth"!! That's How This Country Grew!!!!

 

I was born in '48 and grew up in the time after WWII and the rapid growth of not only a Great Economic Expansion but the Envy of the World to the American Worker and our Products and Services. We had the power and wealth hungry who tried to suppress but we also had intelligent business minds and workers willing to fight that brought about growing wages, safety in the work place, respect for the worker, and so much more, which gave respect and expansion to not only the employer but the companies, The company owners, the executives, the worker, and for those public companies shareholders were all reaping the rewards of that wealth sharing, that's what built the strong and ever expanding middle class and helped some break out of that and join the upper crust of the wealthy. It was the Only Successful way a true capitalist society that can achieve and expand further. Decent expanding wages for a workers hard work and company dedication gives them the ability to purchase goods and services which in turn gives growth and prosperity to other companies and workers.
This is what this writer is pointing out, as others do

Actually, it has been part of the American economic system since its founding

What is the present day GOP trying to sell everyone with statements like this: "You can spread butter on toast, we can share the love, but we are not going to share the wealth," said the Republican gubernatorial candidate. And why are so many buying this crap?

Are you better off than you were 8 years ago?

Have you been working harder and harder, becoming more productive all the time, only to see your wages, fail to keep up with that ever increasing cost of living?

It's not your imagination ...

It's just the way our Economic System tilts ...

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For example, check out these disturbing trends:

Real Median Household Income [Notice the Flat-line trend over the last 8 years.]