After my previous post about the U.S News & World Report article about economic anxiety, I decided (just for fun) to do a quick survey of several mainstream media sites for references to income inequality. Here are the results: From the Washington Post:
The nation faces rising inequality. Since 1980 the gap between the earnings of the top fifth and the bottom fifth has jumped by almost 50 percent. The United States is by some measures the most unequal society in the rich world and the most unequal that it's been since the 1920s. What is the dumbest possible response to this? Identify the most progressive federal tax and repeal it.
In their place, poor and rich neighborhoods are both on the rise, as cities and suburbs have become increasingly segregated by income, according to a Brookings Institution study released Thursday. It found that as a share of all urban and suburban neighborhoods, middle-income neighborhoods in the nation's 100 largest metro areas have declined from 58 percent in 1970 to 41 percent in 2000.
James P. Smith of Rand Corp. has shown that the children and grandchildren of Latino immigrants come very close to closing educational and income gaps with native whites. This is the same as it has always been in American immigration: Newcomers know what keeps them outside the mainstream and work hard to make sure that their children do better. Immigrant Latino men make about half of what native whites do; their grandsons earn about 78 percent of the salaries of their native white friends.
Previous research has shown that people are more trusting of each other in more economically equal states. Participation in community life is greater, social supports are stronger and levels of violence are lower. "The higher violence and lower trust all suggest that social relations are poorer in more unequal societies," continues Wilkinson, author of "The Impact of Inequality: How to Make Sick Societies Healthier" (The New Press).
In the six years since China's central government began its well-financed campaign to spread the benefits of economic growth beyond coastal provinces, the effort has exacerbated the extreme inequality that characterizes the national economy. Gaps have grown between urban and rural China and between the less-developed west and the frenetic east.
We know by the data that have been collected, that over time, economic growth benefits all sectors of the population. However, in the short term, there is no question that economic growth increases income inequality. Some people are better positioned to take advantage of the new economic opportunities than others. Some people make a real bundle of money; others are lucky if they get a job. For example, in Latin American countries, particularly in Brazil and in Mexico, as those countries economies have expanded and as they have participated more in globalization, the rich have gotten richer in comparison to the poor. But itâ€™s not necessarily the case that the poor have gotten poorer.
Between 1989, when the current Socialist/Christian Democratic coalition reached power and democracy returned to the country, and 2005, the Chilean economy has grown nearly 6 percent per year, more than doubling per capita income. Poverty has been drastically reduced; education, health, housing and other social indicators have all improved significantly, and even inequality, that terrible bane of all hemispheric societies, has finally begun to diminish, albeit modestly. For practical purposes, Chile is on the verge of occupying the lowest rung of the highest ladder: becoming a still poor but now developed nation, perhaps like Greece or Portugal a few years ago in Western Europe, like Poland or South Korea more recently.
From the New York Times (no specific reference to income inequality but I liked the quote at the end) The Ultra-Rich Give Differently From You and Me
Almost alone among rich Americans, Mr. Buffett has argued that estate taxes should be increased, not eliminated. Mr. Buffett says the estate tax helps build a vibrant economy of innovators and strivers â€” a true meritocracy â€” and that repealing it would risk a stunted economy controlled by aristocratic inheritors. Repealing the estate tax, he has said, would be the economic equivalent of "choosing the 2020 Olympic team by picking the eldest sons of the gold-medal winners in the 2000 Olympics."