Inequality in America

Lord Haskel

Here in America, the main news story is the Republican primaries.  The top concern is a Pew research report that economic mobility here is less than in Europe and Canada.  What a blow to people’s sense of national identity.  What a blow to economic development.  And this in the land of opportunity.

Everybody has their own explanation and facts.

For example, the inequality gap is now too great here – the rungs on the ladder too far apart.  Fact:  400 families together have wealth equal to the poorest 60% of the total population.

Family breakdown.  Fact: 3 million children have one parent in prison.

Stress. Fact: 1 person in 74 is popping pills relating to mental issues.

Health. Fact: A system based on profit and personal affordability does not take care of pre-natal and early years nutrition.

Skilled people entering work have too much personal debt.  Fact: A young woman who recently graduated as a pharmacist explained how she has debts relating to her education of $140,000 (£100,000).

Other reasons given are the disappearance of trade unions, poor public education and the poor performance of charter schools, expensive childcare, racial disadvantage and the erosion of the middle class.

This is the unintended consequence of many government decisions and how public money is spent.  Decisions and expenditure often unrelated to the economy.  Are we thinking carefully enough about the effect on our economic social mobility of the decisions we are making?  After all we are looking across to America for inspiration.

16 comments for “Inequality in America

  1. 12/01/2012 at 3:40 pm

    This is depressing, but doesn’t surprise me at all. There are many reasons I’m an expat, one of them being that the American Dream is, paradoxically, easier to access outside of America these days.

    • Lord Haskel
      Lord Haskel
      17/01/2012 at 12:46 pm

      Thanks for the good news that people can access the American dream outside America. A promise of lots more opportunity.

  2. Frank W. Summers III
    12/01/2012 at 6:08 pm

    Lord Haskel,

    America is also entering a period when a huge portion of its infrastructure will become obsolete at the same time. The current rating of its infrastructure is “D” (we grade A,B,C,D,F)by the American Association of Civil Engineers. We have collapsing water tables in many key regions. We enter into treaties with countries. pay them to keep the treaties and then prosecute our people for violating them while the other country violates them freely.

    We are experiencing systemic declines in key research and development sectors. We have let the manned Space program decline which served much of the role of any ten of the top twenty British symbols in its role in the American psyche.

    I mean no irony when I say this is a great country — it is one. But it is not the exceptional fantasyland most people must agree that it is when they run for high office.

    • Lord Haskel
      Lord Haskel
      17/01/2012 at 12:49 pm

      Yes reality is replacing fantasy in the ways you describe. But rising inequality makes the US a different place to the one we all admire. A difference that makes it worse.

  3. Twm O'r Nant
    12/01/2012 at 6:34 pm

    The main story is a non story then. Obama or the democrats are not going to give way that soon, and it is obvious that he has still got an excellent following.

  4. mause elwes
    12/01/2012 at 6:35 pm

    @Lord Tyler:

    You have an ability to fathom the politics of the US with the speed of a laser. And, I may add, you are an openly honest man. Many will not address truth in any direction. This makes you brave in my view.

    And one last observation, could politicians be turning a blind eye here to what is happening there because the intention of government is to follow at all costs this regressive and immoral ‘leaders of the free world’ to our complete demise because they feel they too will be in for a hefty pay off for going along with it? Just like the criminal Blair. Who’s wealth is becoming embarrassingly close to those he supported in that horrendous place called a ‘super power’?

    • maude elwes
      12/01/2012 at 9:48 pm

      @Lord Haskel:

      I humbly apologize for mixing your name up with Lord Tyler. There are so many of you, it’s all too exciting to stay on top of it all.

      • Twm O'r Nant
        13/01/2012 at 9:18 am

        Maude Elwes
        No worries. I always assume that nobody reads what I say unless it is rubbish, which is occasional for me, and often can not be deleted from the public gaze in to cyberspace… ever. If it is good nobody reads it, and if they do they take it for themselves
        and if journalists make a profit out of it!

        It still does not bother me; writing and thinking is, for me, a pleasure and a skill acquired in childhood and honed as a young adult, and something I find hard not to do.

        One or two cack words don’t need an apology, unless you have been gambling, drinking and smoking to excess, and even those are not disputable in parliament, as personal failings.

        • maude elwes
          14/01/2012 at 10:11 am


          How kind of you to be so tolerant of my failings. Thank you.

          • Twm O'r Nant
            16/01/2012 at 3:20 pm

            It’s the old question of “content” versus “form”. What the hell does it matter who has said what, as long as it is useful step forward
            in the knowledge of the subject of debate, by everybody?

            I find it difficult not to make comments about the personalities of cabinet ministers and Prime ministers,their wherewithall for decision making, but other than that personality should be a No! No!

            (Cardinal Nono eventually became Pope and lived until he was 101, every time he was asked about a successor he would shout “No! No!!”)

            It can be very difficult meeting people in the corridors of the Palace of Westminster if you have been slanging them in private,a lesson I learned in my days and evenings, in Westminster in the early 70s.

  5. MilesJSD
    12/01/2012 at 6:38 pm

    If ‘social mobility’ majorly translates as ‘the career-climbing ladder, upwards’ then ‘economic mobility’ must mean – – (what ?)

    If ‘Nation’ means ‘The People’ and ‘Nation-State’ means the Land, Law, Government and
    _ _ _ (what else ?)
    as-it-were ‘infrastructuring’ The People and their Properties,

    and if the ‘divide’ between Workplace and Lifeplace is crucial to a person’s ‘Identity’ which clearly is formed of some ‘connection’ between the Workplace-identity and the Lifeplace-identity,

    what does your “blow to people’s sense if identity” mean ?

    I like to believe that one-human-
    being has one-workplace-economic-identity, but possibly three lifeplace-identities
    e.g. a ‘social’ or neighbourhood-identity, a family-identity, and a lone-individual-identity (the latter hopefully including the 25% timeframe or 8-hours-sleep entered into mostly by night)

    but I can see such already broader-covered by ‘National-Identity’ made up of a Social-Identity and an Economic Identity;
    but where therein is the ‘Individual-Human-Being- , or Personal- , Identity ?

    This is not splitting hairs:
    arguably the most impoprtant and often most urgent civilisational-need and primary-task is the Individual Human Development of each of its members, as a prerequisite-to, and alternating-progress-with,
    ‘Socialisation’, ‘Collectivisation’, and ‘Democratisation’.

    As for “We are looking across to America for inspiration”, we as a People must be ‘stuck’ in an infantile state of Development.
    Such a normal state of actually being and moving in three-dimensions, and being aware and increasingly-mindful thereof, does not start to occur in the newborn baby, and only does start many weeks later during the crawling and beginning to look-upwards, to hands-and-knees, and then fully standing-up.

    So why are we ‘stuck’, in a similar but no-longer-naturally-developing, and merely-two-dimensional sort of state-of-“human”-development; here vis-a-vis America ?
    In Baroness Deech’s neighbouring blog ‘Iron Lady – Film’, ex-PM Margaret Thatcher’s life and its ‘pinnacle’ is the topic;
    but I recall a quite recent TV documentary wherein PM Thatcher’s ‘new’ politico-economic policy was shown to ‘borrowed’, actually conceived of and pre-designed by (guess who ?)
    an American politico-economic expert.

    Look at USA’s long and brazenly-bad environmental-pollution history;
    and at its consumption, ‘cornering’, and control of 80% of the entire-world’s Resources, especially including the Non-Renewables.

    However good and even self-sacrificing the USA’s ‘Global-Policing’ is ever judged to be,
    shouldn’t we be looking in all directions, including within our own British selves, for truly long-term and sustain-worthy Inspiration ?

    • Lord Haskel
      Lord Haskel
      17/01/2012 at 12:51 pm

      A blow to people’s sense of identity means a blow to people’s pride in being American. An important part of US society.

  6. Senex
    16/01/2012 at 12:21 pm

    The answers you seek lie within democracy itself. Voters believe they are electing somebody that represents them directly. Not so, and for reasons of constituency size the voter delegates an authority both implicit and explicit to the Congressman that allows he or she to act upon their behalf.

    When they enter the house for the first time, high on principle, they find themselves at odds with house establishment and as certain facts of life are pointed out their principled arrival becomes somewhat tempered.

    The Senate has no constitutional say in how money bills are processed. It was done like this so that the Senate would not interfere with the fiscal autonomy of the individual states they represented. The C19 example of the HoL was another consideration. However, recently with the consent of the house ‘Trojan Horse’ bills, outwardly non money, inwardly money, have become Acts at times of national fiscal emergency.

    The house had control of money matters but not a full control. Congress could only raise taxes so long as they were apportioned amongst individual states or based upon a share resulting from census results. This blocked any notion of Federal ambition other than that which served the American people.

    Prosperity on the east coast during C19 results in ever increasing inequality in the west. Progressives in the Democrat party see a national income tax as the way forward (Tax and Spend). This is opposed by Republicans who table an amendment to a tariff bill in the hope of defeating the bill. It is not defeated and the tariff bill raised in 1909 becomes constitutional law on February 25, 1913 as the 16th amendment. Just prior to this on December 23, 1913 the Glass-Willis proposals become the Federal Reserve Act.

    Two Acts arrive to allow the rot to begin.

    Individual states are now obliged to contribute taxes to what will become Federal ambition and individual states have little or no control over this. What makes it worse is that the Senate now contributes to Federal ambition through the use of Trojan horse bills.

    The irony is that the Republicans, those who chose not to see C19 inequality just as they do now are the ones that allowed the rot to begin in the first place. Another irony is that income tax which was supposed to level the economy to remove inequality has in fact increased it by fuelling Federal ambition at the expense of the American people.

    Solution: temper Federal ambition by rejoining the British Commonwealth?

    Ref: History of the Federal Reserve
    16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Federal Income Tax (1913)

    • maude elwes
      16/01/2012 at 4:39 pm

      Yes, and this is similar to what Blair did and what I believe still goes on presently.

      More of the same

      And Kennedy warned of this some long time ago.

      And it’s time we looked at what is going on right here in our own Parliament. Who is behind these secret passages which attack the basis of our democracy.

      We now are moving quickly toward trial without jury, we already have double jeopardy, that is people tried more than once for the same offense. And so much more that we have no idea how these removals of our rights crept through legislation.

      It is a systematic attack on our rights as citizens of a free country. And these rights have been on our books for a thousand years. Why is no one ready to stand and fight against this stealth? And who is at the back of it’s progress? And why?

  7. MilesJSD
    24/01/2012 at 2:21 pm

    “How public money is spent”

    What about
    “How The People should decide how public-money should be spent ? and in many cases how public money should have been spent (such as ‘where were our Taxes wasted, and NI contributions/PAYE, and ‘private’ bank-savings ? that were guaranteed to be sufficient Welfare Support for the whole Nation including all Pensions and suchlike Allowances” ?
    What about “How ‘private’ money is spent” and should be spent ?

    “The Inequality gap –
    the Rungs are too far apart …”
    (on the singular Human Socio-Economic ‘mobility-ladder’.

    The human “race” we have become, desperately needs a Lifeplace-Mobility-Training & Education egalitarian-curriculum and means-based affordability therein,
    absolutely-separately from Workplace ‘Economic Mobilities’.

    The fact that the National Health Service has always been a good Illnesses, Hospitals, and Medications Sector but never yet a relevant-and-effective Health Service;

    and the fact that schools and universities have incrreasingly become Career-and Job Training institutions for The Workplace, to the debilitation of the Lifeplace, from both Places of which Life-education has all but completely disappeared and been usurped by career-skillings for “decent” jobs.

    and a current English bit of hoo-hah about GCSE subjects having to be “fit for real life” duplicitously points the case, for a genericly egalitarian Lifeplace educational curriculum, too.

    I look now for an opportunity to take serious discussional part in any majorly-relevant future Blog that appears, even if it be only broadly about “How (Our) Money Should Be Spent”, but it should include “how our human-energies, timeframes, personal-possessions, and common-lifesupports, should be “spent”, too; don’t you think ?

    • Lord Haskel
      Lord Haskel
      31/01/2012 at 12:59 pm

      How our money should be spent is a matter of choice. To rule is to choose. What is happening today is that in these difficult and uncertain times there is a perception that public policy and expenditure is unfair in that it holds people back from improving themselves and favours the already wealthy, well connect and powerful.

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