Nel's New Day

January 13, 2019

A Picture of U.S. Income, Health in 2018

Filed under: Income inequality — trp2011 @ 9:05 PM
Tags: ,

Since Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) was inaugurated, he has evaluated the economy through the unemployment rate, the GDP, and the stock market. Yet the progress of United States is far more complicated that these few markers as conservative policies are destroying all except the wealthiest in the nation.

Lack of Equality in Wages: The low unemployment rate looks good, but wages don’t. Since Ronald Reagan was elected, the schism through wages for the wealthiest and the rest of the U.S. population has only increased in disastrous differences that have built since Ronald Reagan became president.

Inequality by States: Every state demonstrates serious inequality in income between the top one percent and the other 99 percent, with the ratio higher than 26.3 to 1 in at least eight states and Washington, D.C. Inequality in the United States has gone past the Gilded Age of the 1920s—gold on the outside but dross under the cover—as working people lose any bargaining power.

Unions: As corporations and conservative policies destroyed unions, income inequality ballooned. Workers who have more ability to negotiate with employers have a much better chance of staying out of poverty; corporations and policymakers who care only about profits have eroded this capacity. Support for unions is essential for a reversal of mass poverty in the United States.

Black/Hispanic Poverty Rates: Today’s federal minimum wage, adjusted for inflation, is 25 percent less than at its peak in 1968. The current federal minimum wage was last increased to $7.25 in 2009. That amount is worth ten percent less than ten years ago while inflation has gone up almost 17 percent. A connection between inflation and an increase in minimum wage from 1968 would lower the black and Hispanic poverty rate by 14 percent from the actual 17.4 million to 15.1 million, bringing at least 2.5 million of these minorities out of poverty. Increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2024 would take 7.4 million blacks and Hispanics out of poverty with the $12.47 minimum wage equivalent to 1968. This policy would save taxpayers billions by removing them from the safety net and strengthening the economy.

Teaching Wages: In the past few years, teachers have gone on strike in several states, many of them red, and 30,000 LA teachers are scheduled to follow suit tomorrow. In some states, teachers have run for legislature and won against the policymakers who starved education. Part of the problem is the teacher wage penalty—the difference between teachers and other college graduates. In every state, public school teachers are paid less, from 3.1 percent in Wyoming to 36.4 percent in Arizona.

Growing control by corporations in raising prices to benefit shareholders continues to transfer money from lower- and middle-income families to the wealthy, according to new research. Because the bottom 80 percent of the country owns just 10 percent of the shares but spends 60 percent of the money, they are the losers while the top 20 percent, the wealthy, make money. Shares alone took three percent of national household income from the bottom 80 percent in 2016 to give to the top 20 percent. One solution would be a cap on prices, something that conservatives oppose.

As income inequality increases, so does the rate of suicide. Researchers Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett found the stress, anxiety, and addiction connected to suicide also comes from the inequality. Rising suicide rates are one reason for the downward trend of life expectancy in the U.S. for three years. Maternal death increased again this past year, putting the U.S. in the same category as Afghanistan and Swaziland. Infant mortality rates haven’t decreased significantly for five years, staying far higher than rates for other developed countries. These trends come from lack of access to healthcare, especially the reversals in coverage since DDT’s inauguration. Forty percent of adults don’t have the savings to cover a $400 emergency, and over 25 percent skipped a medical treatment because of the cost in 2017.

In worldwide happiness, the United States fell for the second time in two years to 18th place. The Gallup-Sharecare Index reported significant declines in well-being in 21 states in 2017, the largest drop since the 2008 recession with six states more than in 2008. At least two-thirds of these 21 states voted for DDT. Not one state improved in well-being during 2017. Every morning I wake up, wondering what disaster has happened since I left the Internet the night before and then become grateful because DDT hasn’t declared World War III. And I’m not alone. That is life in the new world of “normal” in the United States.

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