the gap

These are a few short quotations from Robert Reich's latest book, Beyond Outrage.  I include them here to give you an idea of the set of information I draw my conclusions from.  The ordinary people -- perhaps Romney's 47% -- in the USA are beginning to become aware of these things, and they don't like it. 
Conservatives should be outraged at these things, too, because they contradict conservative values and principles.  John




We created that virtuous cycle in which an ever-growing middle class had the ability to consume more goods and services, which created more and better jobs, thereby stoking demand. The rising tide did in fact lift all boats. On the other hand, during periods when the very rich took home a larger proportion—as between 1918 and 1933, and in the Great Regression from 1981 to the present day—growth slowed, median wages stagnated, and we suffered giant downturns. 

New data from the Commerce Department show employee pay is now down to the smallest share of the economy since the government began collecting wage and salary figures data in 1929.  

Even though the rate of unemployment has begun to fall, jobs still remain scarce, and the pay of the bottom 90 percent continues to drop, adjusted for inflation. But CEO pay is still rising through the stratosphere. Among the CEOs who took in more than $50 million last year were Qualcomm’s Paul Jacobs ($50.6 million), J. C. Penney’s Ron Johnson ($51.5 million), Starbucks’s Howard Schultz ($68.8 million), Tyco International’s Ed Breen ($68.9 million), and Apple’s Tim Cook ($378 million). The titans of Wall Street are doing even better. 

The sad lesson of the Dodd-Frank legislation is that Wall Street is too powerful to allow effective regulation of it. We should have learned that lesson in 2008 as the Street brought the rest of the economy—and much of the world—to its knees. The Street’s leviathans do not generate benefits to society proportional to their size and influence. To the contrary, they represent a clear and present danger to our economy and our democracy. The best way to avoid another bailout is to break them up and then put a cap on the maximum size of the biggest banks. 

Personal responsibility is completely foreign to the highest echelons of the Street. Citigroup’s stock fell 44 percent last year, but its CEO, Vikram Pandit, got at least $5.45 million on top of a retention bonus of $16.7 million. The stock of JPMorgan Chase fell almost 22 percent, but its CEO, Jamie Dimon, was awarded a package worth $17 million. The higher you go in corporate America as a whole, the less relationship... 

I have never been as concerned as I am now about the future of our democracy, the corrupting effects of big money in our politics, the stridency and demagoguery of the regressive right, and the accumulation of wealth and power at the very top. We are perilously close to losing an economy and a democracy that are meant to work for everyone and to replacing them with an economy and a government that will exist mainly for a few wealthy and powerful people. 

Millionaires and billionaires aren’t making huge donations to politicians out of generosity. Corporations aren’t spending hundreds of millions of dollars on lobbyists and political campaigns because they love America. These expenditures are considered investments, and the individuals and corporations that make them expect a good return. 

The tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003—and extended for two years in 2010—in 2011 saved the richest 1.4 million taxpayers (the top 1 percent) more money than the rest of America’s 140.89 million taxpayers received in total income. 

In 2010, eighteen thousand American households earning more than half a million dollars paid no income taxes at all. 

Most people also face the increasing risk of not having enough to retire on. Three decades ago more than 80 percent of large and medium-sized firms gave their workers “defined benefit” pensions that guaranteed a fixed amount of money every month after they retired. Now it’s down to under 10 percent. 

The CEO of Bank of America raked in $10 million, while the bank announced it was firing thirty thousand employees. 

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