Friday, November 7, 2008

Wealth concentration

Matt Yglesias points us to this chart showing the ratio of income for the top 10 percent to the bottom 90 percent. 30 years of unbroken right-wing and center right economic policies have left the wealth of this nation concentrated securely with the wealthiest Americans, the middle and working classes have been completely left behind.

There's been a very clear economic trend since Ronald Reagan took office in 1981. Our collective wealth as a nation has been transferred up the economic ladder. The wealthy have not just gotten wealthier, they actually have taken control of a far greater concentration of our national wealth than at any time in generations. We were told by Reagan and his acolytes that the wealth would trickle down, it's clear now that that has not happened.

So what do we do? Greater government investment in infrastructure projects will help to stimulate the economy and job growth in the short term. Then there are structural issues to contend with after 30 years of GOP de-regulation and tax slashing. In addition passing the Employee Free Choice Act and reforming the National Labor Relations Board to give workers who want to organize an opportunity to do so without fear of retribution from vindictive bosses will do a great deal to help the working class.

Reagan didn't just institute economic policies favorable to the upper class, he also aggressively undermined middle-class protections. President-elect Obama should focus on rolling back the right-wing assault on workers. In that vein it is heartening to see Robert Reich on Obama's economic transition team.

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