Friday, Nov. 11, 2011

The 1%

The litany of misdeeds on Wall Street is long, and didn't start in 2011. But it has become apparent that the recession is not going to deal an equally tough blow to the wealthiest Americans than to the rest of the country. Unemployment rates have remained stubbornly high — nearly 14 million people in the U.S. still can't find work, and a Congressional Budget Office report released in October showed that from 1979 to 2007, after-tax income grew by 275% for the top 1% of households, compared with 18% for the bottom 20%. Meanwhile, CEO pay and Wall Street bonuses have rebounded spectacularly, and sales at luxury retailers are soaring again — facts that the Occupy Wall Street protesters, who say they represent "the 99%," are quick to point out. It's not clear that the financial industry and the rich in general created the U.S.'s uneven economic playing field, but it is clear that they aren't trying very hard to change the situation.