Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Gateway to Sources and Information About Income Inequality in the United States

Millions of Americans are working longer hours for lower wages, and yet almost all of the new income and wealth being created is going to the top one percent. While the top one percent have seen their incomes rise 18 percent over the past decade, those in the middle have actually seen their incomes fall. 
  Scholars, from the Nobel-Prize-winning Paul Krugman to the widely respected economist James Surowiecki, have been working to analyze these disparities. Americans are not generally aware of the extent of this income inequality. In most developed countries, there is a direct relationship between income inequality and the public's views about the need to address the issue – but not in America, where income inequality is worse but the concern is lower. The most commonly accepted measurement of income inequality, the Gini Index, ranks the United States sixth-worst among 173 nations. 

Private-equity companies are far more obviously connected to an undue concentration of wealth at the expense of workers and communities than are collateralized-debt obligations, which were at the core of our 2008 Great Recession. Within the one percent, there is a top one percent that consists disproportionately of private-equity and hedge-fund principals.


“A great deal of money went into the struggle over the
nuclear agreement with Iran]. The lead in opposing it was
taken by
AIPAC [American Israel Public Affairs Committee], which
aligns itself
on Israel's security matters with the Likud party
and its leader,
[Benjamin] Netanyahu. (When the more peace-
Yitzahk Rabin was prime minister, his relationship with
AIPAC was rocky.) Until this fight AIPAC was seen as a fearsome
organization with the muscle and
money to almost always get
its way
with Congress. AIPAC and its allies have been reported
to have
spent as much as $40 million opposing the agreement,
although some estimates are lower. Until this fight,
acted as a bipartisan organizatio
n, but in vehemently opposing
the deal [
the nuclear agreement with Iran] it became an
ally of the Republicans in a highly partisan fight.”

Elizabeth Drew, “How They Failed to Block the Iran Deal,” New York Review, October 22, 2015, pp: 75-77.

“Allied with AIPAC [American Israel Public Affairs Committee]
were other Jewish organizations such as the Anti-
Defamation League
; various local Jewish Federations;
the Zionist Organization of America
, which - on the day of
the Senate
's voting and with the deal's proponents clearly winning -
sponsored a rally on Capitol Hill against the deal,
Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. The casino billionaire
Sheldon Adelson poured millions into this fight through
National Zionist Organization. Also active were Bill Kristol's
Emergency Committee for Israel
and the Republican Jewish Coalition,
a very ideologically hawkish group, which in 2008 linked Obama to
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, and
Patrick Buchanan. It was understood by the Republican presidential
that strong opposition to the deal was a possible route to
big campaign contributions from Adelson. The candidates were
divided only over whether they would kill the deal on their first day
in office or give it a little more time.”

Elizabeth Drew, “How They Failed to Block the Iran Deal,” New York Review, October 22, 2015, pp: 75-77.

“ . . . there's no guarantee that his [Justice Anton Scalia’s] death will change things.
But many of the Roberts [Supreme] Court's most important
business cases were decided by a 5-4 margin, with the five
nservarive Justices voting as a bloc. And, as [Vanderbilt
University professor Brian] Fitzpatrick
points out, ‘[Justice Antonin]

Scalia has done more than any other justice in making
it difficult for consumers and employees to bring class-action
suits. So his absence alone may make a difference.’ There have
ready been signs of this: just last week, Dow Chemical settled
a ma
jor class-action suit, saying that Scalia's death
increased the chances of ‘unfavorable outcomes for business.’
It's unlikely that Scalia will be replaced anytime soon. But
let's hope that, when a successor is finally appointed, it is

someone willing to give ordinary citizens the day in court
that Scalia worked so hard to deny them.”

James Surowiecki, “Courting Business,” New Yorker, March 17, 2016, page 21.

“Since the [Ronald] Reagan Administration Republican Presidenthave filled the [Supreme] Court with Justices steeped in the ideology of the conservative legal movement. As Brian Fitzpatrick, a law professor at Vanderbilt [University] who once clerked for [Justice Antonin] Scalia, told me, ‘Conservative Justices start from a world view that says we have too much litigation in general and it's a saon the economy.’ Conservative nominees to the [Supreme] Court have been far more worried about government overreach than about corporate misbehavior. They have been skeptical of the usof class-action suits to achieve social goals or enforce regulationsAnd, once corporations recognized that the [Supreme] Court was predisposed to favor their interests, they began pursuing those interests more aggressively. As the legendary NYU law professor Arthur R. Miller told me, The business community smelled blood and went after it.Most notably, the Chamber of Commerce has become assiduous in pushing corporate cases to the [Supreme] Court.”

James Surowiecki, “Courting Business,” New Yorker, March 17, 2016, page 21.

James Surowiecki, “Courting Business,” New Yorker, March 17, 2016, page 21.