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Sunday, January 25, 2004

Two Americas.

Connect the dots: Chief executives of America's largest corporations make, on average, 531 times as much as their hourly employees. (We know they certainly work that much harder, often locked in over night, without benefits, etc.) Meanwhile, that tiny sliver of the population is throwing unbelievable amounts of money to the Bush campaign. For example:

Through late November, employees of securities industry firms had given at least $4 million to the Bush campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. That number will rise significantly — probably to well over $7 million — when figures for the full year are reported at the end of this month. As of late November, no Democrat had raised more than $1 million from the industry.

Are you surprised that the rising tide of our economy has lifted some boats a lot higher than others?

The millions of immigrants who have entered the country in recent decades have indeed made inequality look larger than it otherwise would. But even among households headed by native-born Americans, the rich have done far better than others over the past 20 years — as well as over the past 30, 40 or 50 years, according to government statistics and the economists who study them. . . .

Less than half of the rise in pay among lower-income households comes from actual wage increases. Most of the rise is a result of families putting in more hours on the job as many women have joined the work force. This has obvious benefits, giving today's women economic freedom that their grandmothers did not have, but it also leaves less time for children, aging parents and everything else outside the office.

The pay increases for upper-middle-class and wealthy households, on the other hand, stem largely from healthy jumps in how much they earn each hour. Over all, a native family at the 90th percentile — earning more than 9 in 10 others — made 68 percent more in 1999 than in 1969, after adjusting for inflation, according to an examination of census numbers by the Public Policy Institute of California. At the 20th percentile, the increase was 30 percent.


Copyright © 2004 by Philocrites | Posted 25 January 2004 at 3:00 PM

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January 25, 2004 04:43 PM | Permalink for this comment

This has gotten me thinking about the relationship of economic systems to religious doctrines. This posting is talking about how many more work hours are having to be put in by a family just to stay at the same level (more or less). And, therefore, leaving less and less time for activities outside work (which obviously would include practicing one's faith). Which leads me to pose this question:

How compatible is the capitalistic economy of the U.S. *today* with the teachings of Christianity? I guess I would include in that question the seemingly mandated role of Americans as almost nothing more than consumers. Is there another economic system which can encourage voluntary hard work and ingenuity (such as captalism does) but yet doesn't depend on the uglier parts of capitalism (the dog-eat-dog mentality, greed, etc...).

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