Income Inequality—American Style

Excerpts from article by James Petrus

About 75% of US employees work 40 hours or longer, the second longest among all Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, exceeded only by Poland and tied with South Korea.  In contrast, only 10% of Danish workers, 15% of Norwegian, 30% of French, 43% of UK and 50% of German workers work 40 or more hours.  Moreover, despite those long workdays US employees receive the shortest paid holidays or vacation time (one to two weeks compared to the average of five weeks in Western Europe).  US employees pay for the costliest health plans and their children face the highest university fees among the 34 countries in the (OECD).

In class terms, US employees faced the greatest jump in income inequalities over the past decade, the longest period of wage and salary decline or stagnation (1970 to 2014) and the greatest collapse of private sector union membership, from 30% in 1950 down to 8% in 2014.

On the other hand, profits, as a percentage of national income, have increased significantly.  The share of income and profits going to the financial sector has increased at a faster rate than any other sector of the US economy.

The historic employee-finance capitalist polarization is the direct result of the grand success of the trillion dollar financial swindles, the tax payer-funded trillion dollar Federal bailouts of the crooked bankers, and the illegal bank manipulation of interest rates.  These uncorrected and unpunished crimes have driven up the costs of living and producing for employees and their employers.

Financial criminality is a major reason why US employees are working longer and receiving less.  Big banks, which have been ‘convicted and fined’ for mega-swindles, include Citi Bank, Bank of America, HSBC, UBS, JP Morgan, Barclay, Goldman Sachs, Royal Bank of Scotland, Deutsch Bank and forty other ‘leading’ financial institutions. No CEO or banker was ever arrested for their part in the swindle of trillions.

The US Treasury propped up the mega-swindlers with a trillion-dollar bailout in working people’s tax money.  They transferred funds from the public treasury for social services to the swindlers.  The banks profited from their widely exposed crimes while US employees lost their jobs, homes, savings and social services.  Despite the proliferation of mega-swindles and their pervasive ripple effects throughout the economy and society, none of the dozens of federal or state regulatory agencies intervened to stop the swindle.

Financial Impunity:  Regulatees Controlling the Regulators

The regulators only reacted after trillions had ‘disappeared’ and swindles were ‘a done deal’.  The impunity of the swindlers in planning and executing the pillage of hundreds of millions of employees, taxpayers and mortgage holders was because the federal and state regulatory agencies are populated by ‘regulatory administrators’ who came from or aspired to join the financial sector they were tasked with ‘regulating’.

Most of the high officials appointed to lead the regulatory agencies had been selected by the ‘Lords of Wall Street, Frankfurt, the City of London or Zurich.’  Appointees are chosen on the basis of their willingness to enable financial swindles.  It therefore came as no surprise on May 28, 2015 when US President Obama approved the appointment of Andrew Donahue, Managing Director and Associate General Counsel for the repeatedly felonious, mega-swindling banking house of Goldman Sachs to be the ‘Chief of Staff’ of the Security and Exchange Commission. His career has been typical of the Washington-Wall Street ‘Revolving Door’.

Every top official in Treasury, Commerce and Trade, and every regulator in the Security Exchange Commission (SEC) who ‘retired to the private sector’ has ended up working for the same mega-criminal banks and finance houses they had investigated, regulated and ‘slapped on the wrist’.

The mega swindlers represent much less than 1% of the class structure.  Yet they hold over 40% of personal wealth.

The only answer is to build a political movement independent of the two party system, willing to nationalize the banks.




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