"Ian Bates is photographing a group of Appalachian teenagers coping with a tough economy. The project, “Growing Up Lost in Appalachia,” is now the first installment of an exploration of his generation’s experiences growing up amid high unemployment and breathtaking technological change.
But it didn’t start out that way.
It began with a blast — from a carrot cannon.
In October 2011, Mr. Bates, a 20-year-old sophomore at Ohio University, was driving around looking for something interesting to shoot. He was passing through New Straitsville, a former coal mining town in southeastern Ohio, when he came across a scene that made him stop.
'I saw this house that had tons of old stuff in the yard and a big old oil rig truck, and these two young men were making a carrot cannon in the front yard,” he said.'"
"The mean net worth (assets, such as a home or retirement account, minus debt) of middle-class families plunged 28% to $93,150 in 2010 from $129,582 in 2001. Meanwhile, the mean net worth of the upper class edged 1% higher over the course of the decade to $574,788. Fry said the upper class was better able to cushion themselves against housing losses because they are more diversified and have much of their wealth in stocks, bonds and other investments.
The middle class also took a bigger hit on the pay front. While incomes across all class levels declined for the first time since World War II, the middle class saw the biggest decline, with a median income for a four person household declining to roughly $70,000 in 2010 from about $73,000 in 2001, the report said. The median income for the lower class is $23,000 and about $113,000 for the upper class. The middle class is also giving up more income to the rich. In 2010, the upper income group took in 46% of all income, up from 29% in 1970. The middle income group took in 45% of income, down significantly from 62% in 1970."
"Nobel Prize winning economis, author and lecturer, Joseph Stiglitz, talks about his latest book, THE PRICE OF INEQUALITY: HOW TODAY'S DIVIDED SOCIETY ENDANGERS OUR FUTURE. Joseph Stiglitz spoke at the Cedar Hills Crossing Powell's Bookstore in Beaverton, Oregon, on June 14th, 2012. To find out more about the author, please visit his website at josephstiglitz.com. This program was produced by pdxjustice Media Productions of Portland, Oregon."
"A discredited claim is making a comeback following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding most of the national health care reform law.
U.S. Rep. Jon Runyan said in a press release on Thursday that the law, formally known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, makes cuts to Medicare.
'My constituents simply cannot afford the $500 billion in new tax increases and $500 billion in Medicare cuts required to pay for this flawed legislation, nor can our economy sustain the job-killing mandates and regulations it imposes,' Runyan, a Republican representing parts of southern New Jersey, said in a press release.
Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, repeated the claim in his statement about the high court’s ruling, saying 'cuts Medicare - cuts Medicare by approximately $500 billion dollars.'
Both claims distort the truth, as our PolitiFact colleagues have found many times."
We feel instinctively that societies with huge income gaps are somehow going wrong. Richard Wilkinson charts the hard data on economic inequality, and shows what gets worse when rich and poor are too far apart: real effects on health, lifespan, even such basic values as trust.
"Americans enjoy less economic mobility than their peers in Canada and much of Western Europe in part because of the depth of poverty, family background and the gaps between the rich and the rest."
"... many researchers have reached a conclusion that turns conventional wisdom on its head: Americans enjoy less economic mobility than their peers in Canada and much of Western Europe. The mobility gap has been widely discussed in academic circles, but a sour season of mass unemployment and street protests has moved the discussion toward center stage.
Former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, a Republican candidate for president, warned this fall that movement 'up into the middle income is actually greater, ... in Europe, than it is in America.' National Review, a conservative thought leader, wrote that 'most Western European and English-speaking nations have higher rates of mobility.' Even Representative Paul D. Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican who argues that overall mobility remains high, recently wrote that 'mobility from the very bottom up' is 'where the United States lags behind.'
Liberal commentators have long emphasized class, but the attention on the right is largely new.
'It’s becoming conventional wisdom that the U.S. does not have as much mobility as most other advanced countries,' said Isabel V. Sawhill, an economist at the Brookings Institution. 'I don’t think you’ll find too many people who will argue with that.'
I think the only effective reform is to get a system where the money that funds congress, the “funders,” are basically the people, as opposed to the funders being separated from the people. So systems that try to push for small-dollar funded elections and make those effective. I lay out my own voucher program that tries to do that, but the challenge isn’t as much to imagine the solution as much as it is to imagine the process to bring about the solution, given how entrenched the cancer is and how much the very people we need to reform the system depend upon the existing system.
So you even propose a constitutional convention.
Yes, really as a way to emphasis that we need an outside the beltway strategy. I’m not sure that any of these strategies would work, but if there is one that will work, it will have to be on different territory than the one lobbyists and members of congress now control. I think that the real challenge is we’re not used to exercising power as citizens anymore. We’ve been passive listeners to television commercials for too long, and not really active producers of democracy. So we might be inspired by other countries around the world that are doing this right now, because I don’t yet see in our own will the ability to exercise that energy and demand the fundamental change that’s needed here.
Some recent surveys seem to suggest that many Americans are in denial about the seriousness of the gap between the rich and poor.
"Is income inequality becoming the new global warming? In other words, is this another case where the facts of an existential threat lose traction among a weary American public as deniers attempt to reduce them to partisan opinions?
It’s beginning to seem so.
A Gallup poll released on Thursday found that, after rising rather steadily for the past two decades, the percentage of Americans who said that the country is divided into “haves” and “have-nots” took the largest drop since the question was asked.
This happened even as the percentage of Americans who grouped themselves under either label stayed relatively constant. Nearly 6 in 10 Americans still see themselves as the haves, while only about a third see themselves as the have-nots. The numbers have been in that range for a decade.
This is the new American delusion. The facts point to a very different reality."
WASHINGTON — The portion of American families living in middle-income neighborhoods has declined significantly since 1970, according to a new study, as rising income inequality left a growing share of families in neighborhoods that are mostly low-income or mostly affluent.
The study, conducted by Stanford University and scheduled for release on Wednesday by the Russell Sage Foundation and Brown University, uses census data to examine family income at the neighborhood level in the country’s 117 biggest metropolitan areas.
The findings show a changed map of prosperity in the United States over the past four decades, with larger patches of affluence and poverty and a shrinking middle.
TED Talks We feel instinctively that societies with huge income gaps are somehow going wrong.
We feel instinctively that societies with huge income gaps are somehow going wrong. Richard Wilkinson charts the hard data on economic inequality, and shows what gets worse when rich and poor are too far apart: real effects on health, lifespan, even such basic values as trust. (Recorded at TEDGlobal 2011, July 2011, in Edinburgh, Scotland. Duration: 16:55.)
"Three families living around the poverty line in San Diego tell Marketplace Money what it means to spend money when you don't have a whole lot of it."
"'It’s stress,' Halima Tinson says as she paces back and forth in front of a San Diego preschool.
'But I want my husband to go to school. Because I know when he finishes, I won’t have to worry anymore.'
Tinson is trying to get her three-year-old twins signed up for the Head Start program to free up time for her husband. If her twins get into the program, Rickey Ricardo won’t have to stay home to watch the kids during the day. They’re too poor to afford good childcare. Any job that Ricardo could get wouldn’t pay enough to cover the costs of daycare. But free preschool means free time. Perhaps time enough to get some training and a well-paying job."
"In national politics, the influence of money is a perennial concern, and the 2012 election cycle has involved a particular frenzy of campaign spending. But to focus exclusively on election spending is to overlook the staggering sums—more than $3 billion every year since 2008—that are devoted to old-fashioned lobbying.
To an outsider, the variety of organizations that seek influence in Washington can be startling. There is the Window Covering Manufacturers Association, the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers, and the Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild. There is a lobby for duck hunters and one for motorcyclists. The astonishing diversity of organizations that lobby might give the impression that they represent the full spectrum of American life, from pro-business groups like the Chamber of Commerce to unions like the AFL-CIO, and from right to left—with plenty of groups, like the National Safety Council, that have no obvious ideological coloration.
But to conclude from this diversity that all Americans have at least some kind of organization looking out for them would be wrong. In decades of researching American political lobbies, we have found that there are huge gaps in who is represented. And, as an old Washington saying goes, 'If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.'"
"Americans have been watching protests against oppressive regimes that concentrate massive wealth in the hands of an elite few. Yet in our own democracy, 1 percent of the people take nearly a quarter of the nation’s income—an inequality even the wealthy will come to regret."
"Joe Stiglitz, Nobel Laureate economist, is uniquely qualified to explain how the economy really works, or more precisely, how and why it’s working far better for the top 1 percent than the bottom 99 percent. That’s the topic of his new book The Price of Inequality.
The book is a model of clarity, but that's just one of its virtues.
Another is how Stiglitz frames the problem; he doesn’t start from a place of "vast inequality is a fact of life in our free-market system, and that's as it should be." He starts from a much more interesting, and frankly, humane place: "This is happening. Why? Is it a good thing? Is it the market functioning smoothly or is someone taking advantage of their power? Above all: Is society better or worse off?"
"'I am not a welfare queen,' says Melissa Bruninga-Matteau.
That’s how she feels compelled to start a conversation about how she, a white woman with a Ph.D. in medieval history and an adjunct professor, came to rely on food stamps and Medicaid. Ms. Bruninga-Matteau, a 43-year-old single mother who teaches two humanities courses at Yavapai College, in Prescott, Ariz., says the stereotype of the people receiving such aid does not reflect reality. Recipients include growing numbers of people like her, the highly educated, whose advanced degrees have not insulated them from financial hardship.
'I find it horrifying that someone who stands in front of college classes and teaches is on welfare,' she says."
"Many young women are leaving the labor force to upgrade their skills, while their male counterparts are more likely to take whatever job they can find."
"Now, as was the case then, one sex is the primary beneficiary. Though young women in their late teens and early 20’s view today’s economic lull as an opportunity to upgrade their skills, their male counterparts are more likely to take whatever job they can find. The longer-term consequences, economists say, are that the next generation of women may have a significant advantage over their male counterparts, whose career options are already becoming constrained.
For now at least, many young women still feel that the deck is stacked against them.
'Almost everyone in my program is female,' said Ms. Baker, who hopes a master’s degree will help her get a job running communications at a nonprofit group. 'That’s partly because of the program, but also because as women we feel like we have to be more educated to be able to compete in really any field.'
Women still earn significantly less than men. And in the two and a half years since the recovery officially began, men age 16 to 24 have gained 178,000 jobs, while their female counterparts have lost 255,000 positions, according to the Labor Department."
There is a feeling today among too many Americans that we might not make it. Not that the end is near, or that doom is around the corner, but that a distinctly American feeling of inevitability, of greatness— culturally, economically, politically— is gone. That we have become Britain. Or Rome. Or Greece. A generation ago Ronald Reagan rallied the nation to deny a similar charge: Jimmy Carter’s worry that our nation had fallen into a state of “malaise.” I was one of those so rallied, and I still believe that Reagan was right. But the feeling I am talking about today is different: not that we, as a people, have lost anything of our potential, but that we, as a republic, have. That our capacity for governing— the product, in part, of a Constitution we have revered for more than two centuries— has come to an end. That the thing that we were once most proud of— this, our republic— is the one thing that we have all learned to ignore. Government is an embarrassment. It has lost the capacity to make the most essential decisions. And slowly it begins to dawn upon us: a ship that can’t be steered is a ship that will sink.
"If there's a prize for best infographic, ever, then Randall Munroe has won. Hands down. The winner? His Money infographic posted Monday. This monster infographic comes with full sources in CSV format and covers everything from Barenaked Ladies to 2012 presidential fundraising.
If you ever wanted to see money put into very detailed perspective, this will do it for you. Munroe starts with visualizations based on the dollar, like a Starbucks Coffee ($2.00) to a comparison of hourly worker and CEO pay between 1965 and 2007.
From there, Munroe goes on to compare box office revenue from Snow White to Avatar, and annual profits of AT&T, Verizon, and JP Morgan Chase. The U.S. Household Income visualization alone is worth the time downloading the 6.7MB image. See also the section on billionaires."
Harvard Business School professor Michael Norton finds Americans prefer a more equal distribution of wealth.
AMERICANS HAVE A DISTORTED sense of the level of inequality in their society—but not in the direction one might expect. Associate professor of business Michael I. Norton has found that respondents to his surveys universally think that wealth is more evenly distributed in the United States than it actually is—and what’s more, respondents say they would prefer for the wealth to be still more evenly spread around.
More than 80 percent of the wealth in the United States belongs to 20 percent of the population; respondents estimated that this group held less than 60 percent of the wealth, and would in an ideal world hold about a third.
The lowest two quintiles (a group with average net worth of $2,200) control 0.2 percent and 0.1 percent of the wealth, respectively. But respondents estimated that these groups held 6 percent and 3 percent, respectively, and said they would like them hold about 15 percent and about 10 percent instead.
In economic terms, the United States has gone from being a comparatively egalitarian society to one of the most unequal democracies in the world.
From the 1930s to the 1960s, the income of the less affluent Americans grew more quickly than that of their wealthier neighbors, and the richest 1 percent saw its share of the national income shrink to 8.9 percent in the mid-1970s, from 23.9 percent in 1928. That share is now back up to more than 20 percent, its level before the Depression.
Inequality has traditionally been acceptable to Americans if accompanied by mobility. But most recent studies of economic mobility indicate that it is getting even harder for people to jump from one economic class to another in the United States, harder to join the elite. While Americans are used to considering equal opportunity and equality of condition as separate issues, they may need to reconsider. In an era in which money translates into political power, there is a growing feeling, on both left and right, that special interests have their way in Washington. There is growing anger, from the Tea Party to Occupy Wall Street, that the current system is stacked against ordinary citizens. Suddenly, as in the 1930s, the issue of economic equality is back in play.
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