Economists Emmanuel Saez, of the University of California–Berkeley, and Gabriel Zucman, of the London School of Economics, are out with a new set of findings on American wealth inequality, and their numbers are startling. Wealth, for reference, is the
value of what you own—assets like housing, stocks, and bonds, minus your debts. And while it certainly comes up from time to time, it has
tended to play second fiddle to income in conversations about America’s widening class divide. In part, that’s because it’s a trickier conversation subject. Wealth has always been far more concentrated than income in the United States. Plus, research suggested that the top 1 percent of households had actually lost some of its share since the 1980s.That might not really have been the case.
Forget the 1 percent. The winners of this race, according to Zucman and Saez, have been the 0.1 percent. Since the 1960s, the richest one-thousandth of U.S. households, with a minimum net worth today above $20 million, have more than doubled their share of U.S. wealth, from around 10 percent to more than 20 percent. Take a moment to process that. One-thousandth of the country owns one-fifth of the wealth. By comparison, the entire top 1 percent of households takes in about 22 percent of U.S. income, counting capital gains.
While the super-rich have risen, the merely affluent have barely budged. As shown on this next graph from Saez and Zucman, the share of wealth belonging to the top 1 to 0.5 percent of households has remained about level. The 0.5 to 0.1 percent have tacked roughly an extra percentage point onto their piece of the pie. The relative gains have been eaten up by the elite—the 0.1 percent and even the 0.01 percent. Continue reading “Wealth gap is worse than you think”
Americans’ desire to save money rather than spend it may help those vowing to show more financial restraint in the new year, as reported by Gallup.
“Still, this desire may not translate into more savings in 2014, as those with the least resources in terms of disposable income are actually the most likely to prefer saving money to spending it. This may mean that even as much as the country professes to enjoy saving money, not all are able to do so for financial reasons.
“In fact, Americans with the absolute lowest annual household incomes, $20,000 or less, are the most likely to say they enjoy saving money (66%) rather than spending it (30%), compared with Americans at other income levels. The propensity to save drops off notably among those bringing in $50,000 or more, though the majority still lean that way, including 56% of those with household incomes between $50,000 and $74,999 and 55% of those earning $75,000 or more.
“These results come from aggregated Gallup data spanning 2009 to 2013, including interviews with 6,127 U.S. adults. Particularly since the 2008 financial crisis, the majority of Americans have said they prefer saving money to spending it. This stands in contrast to their preferences between 2001 and 2008, when they were more evenly divided between saving and spending money. Even as the economic recovery nears its fifth year, the preference to spend rather than save has not recovered to pre-crisis norms. Continue reading “Those with less more prone to save”
Saying that he’s trying to improve the lives of the world’s poorest people, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has announced an ambitious plan to bring internet access to 60 percent of the Earth’s population.
“What he didn’t announce is the naked Facebook self-interest fueling this plan — or his troubled track record as a do-gooder.
“Today, Facebook said it will work toward its internet access goal with makers of smartphone hardware — including Nokia, Qualcomm, and Samsung — trying to create cheaper smartphones, deploy and incentivize cheaper internet access, and slim down webpages.
“No dollar figures or specific technologies were detailed for the “internet.org” alliance, just platitudes about “giving all people around the world the power to connect” and a big headline-grabbing goal of bringing internet access to the 4.4 billion people who do not already have it.
“To promote internet.org, Facebook deployed a heavily edited John F. Kennedy speech to lend gravitas to an empty propaganda video. And Zuckerberg said this: “For almost 10 years, Facebook has been on a mission to make the world more open and connected… Connecting the world is one of the greatest challenges of our generation. This is just one small step toward achieving that goal.”
“What he didn’t announce is the naked Facebook self-interest fueling this plan — or his troubled track record as a do-gooder
“We’re not complaining about Facebook trying to serve its own interests while simultaneously doing something good for the world. People understand, hopefully, that Facebook is a for-profit corporation whose top priority must be its own bottom line, and that Facebook can pursue revenue while also doing some good, helping people stay in touch with their relatives or improving third-world net access. Such win-wins are possible, and should be celebrated. The problem is that this isn’t enough for the company. It has to be solving “one of the greatest challenges of our generation,” with nary a mention of the big financial upside — and there is one, believe me, for Facebook. This is part of a broader pattern in which the company habitually acts like it’s more akin to a charity than a business.”
More at: http://www.wired.com/business/2013/08/facebooks-selfish-gift/
We don’t think 2102 was the best year for Pope Benedict, what with his relentless rants against marriage equality and his silly foray onto Twitter. For a guy supposed to have a direct line to God, the Pope seems to be a bit out-of-touch.
But wait. What was that recent thing he said? Yes, according to reports today from the BBC, Benedict has come out against the profiteers and selfish-individualists.
“Pope Benedict XVI has condemned ‘unregulated capitalism’ for contributing to world tension, in a new year address to worshippers.”
Hang on, there is more: The Pope also decried ‘the prevalence of a selfish and individualistic mindset which also finds expression in an unregulated financial capitalism’, as well as ‘various forms of terrorism and crime.’
“The Roman Catholic Church leader spoke at a Mass in the Vatican, then greeted a crowd outside St Peter’s Basilica. He deplored ‘hotbeds of tension and conflict caused by growing instances of inequality between rich and poor’. Continue reading “Now Benedict hates capitalism”
You may not know this, but programs exist in 36 states, which provide free mobile phone service to the poor.
For the homeless and indigent, cell phones can make the difference in getting help, work, housing, or access to other needed services. According to income statistics, as many of 28-million Americans qualify for the program, which experts say could enable recipients to earn as much as $3.7-billion in new income for the poor and near-poor.
That’s right, $3.7-billion in money not-paid by government assistance programs. The cell phone Continue reading “Homeless to get free cell phones”
“Few aspirations are seen as more worthwhile and self-evidently desirable than the pursuit of happiness. These days, no one is against it. All of us can become happy, whether poor or rich, Christian or Muslim, conservative or libertarian.” So writes Carl Cederstrom in today’s Al Jazeera
“It is no wonder then that Freud – the father of psychoanalysis – is often regarded with suspicion. Categorically, he claimed that man is not designed for happiness. If happiness would fully come out and realise itself, he claimed, we would not be prepared for it. We simply wouldn’t know what to do with it. Admittedly, this sounds rather disconcerting. Yet, there’s a profound and important point here, one that is worth considering at a time when we are told, again and again, that happiness is the one true way to a meaningful life. Continue reading “Why you don’t feel happy”