“The income gap between the richest and poorest Americans grew last year to its widest amount on record as young adults and children in particular struggled to stay afloat in the recession.” “The top-earning 20 percent of Americans – those making more than $100,000 each year – received 49.4 percent of all income generated in the U.S., compared with the 3.4 percent earned by those below the poverty line, according to newly released census figures.” “That ratio of 14.5-to-1 was an increase from 13.6 in 2008 and nearly double a low of 7.69 in 1968.” “At the top, the wealthiest 5 percent of Americans, who earn more than $180,000, added slightly to their annual incomes last year, census data show. Families at the $50,000 median level slipped lower.” “Lower-skilled adults ages 18 to 34 had the largest jumps in poverty last year as employers kept or hired older workers for the dwindling jobs available.” (Yen, Hope, 9/28/2010. Comcast.Net News, Census finds record gap between rich and poor, Retrieved from www.comcast.net.com). This information appeared to be a surprise to many but to others it is something that has been known and argued for quite some time now. Years ago, those of us who live in poverty have been complaining about the ever present and widening income gap between the rich and the poor. Some have even been quoted as saying “the rich gets richer, while the poorer gets poorer” and still this seems like the first time many readers have ever heard of it. Too many like myself, who have become used to trying to raise a family below the poverty rate, Where is this rabbit hole that you have been residing in for so long?
“The findings are part of a broad array of U.S. census data being released this month that highlight the far-reaching impact of the recent economic meltdown.” “The effects have ranged from near-historic declines in U.S. mobility and birth rates to delayed marriage and the first drop in the number of illegal immigrants in two decades.” “The 2009 census tabulations, which are based on pre-tax income and exclude capital gains, are adjusted for household size where data are available.” “Prior analyses of after-tax income made by the wealthiest 1 percent compared to middle- and low-income Americans have also pointed to a widening inequality gap, but only reflect U.S. data as of 2007.” “The 2009 poverty level was set at $21,954 for a family of four, based on an official government calculation that includes only cash income. It excludes noncash aid such as food stamps.” (Yen, Hope, 9/28/2010. Comcast.Net News, Census finds record gap between rich and poor, Retrieved from www.comcast.net.com). As you have read in the above paragraph, the experts point to several areas which they say have caused the gap. As mentioned above they say it’s the decline in U.S. mobility and birth rates, drop in number of illegal immigrants, the exclusion of capital gains taxes for the wealthy as well as food stamps for the poor. Some even say that it is because of this recession. What’s the truth of the matter?
The truth of the matter is that for as long as anyone can remember there has always been a gap between the haves and the have not. It could be traced back to the very beginning of this nation. There were those like our first President George Washington who owned a mansion and those troops he commanded who went back to their farms. There has been this thing many called “status” and those who deserved better while those who did not have the status, it was assumed did not. It was and still is prevalent in education as depicted by the “status” of places like Princeton and Harvard to other secondary education institutes like those similar to state colleges. No one spoke about this gap then. This gap continued to grow when tax havens and shelters became legal. The pressure to achieve this level of rise in statue caused many to seek to take of advantage of those less educated or fortunate. It also resulted in the wealthy forming a click and doing whatever was possible to make sure that their little club remained exclusive. They did this by controlling the upward mobility vehicle now referred to as credit scores. No one spoke about this then. Now this gap is becoming more known because of the efforts by some to deny permanent tax cuts to the middle class until they can be also given to the wealthiest among us. For the poorest of the poor, these words tax cuts means nothing but what they provide means a whole lot. It means the difference from choosing medicine over winter heat or summer cooling. It means being able to stay in their home for one more month instead of finding family to move in with. For those who are wealthy tax cuts mean only that they now have to find another bank to put their money in, another political cause to support, or another Bentley in the garage. What a heck of a choice.
I surmise that if the capital gains had not been excluded from the calculations the gap would have been much larger even if they included the food stamps. Something about comparing food stamps to cash on hand does not work for me, does it work for you?