Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Widening Income Gap

Census Bureau data shows that "[o]ver two decades, the income gap has steadily increased between the richest Americans, who own homes and stocks and got big tax breaks, and those at the middle and bottom of the pay scale, whose paychecks buy less." The AP story is worth quoting extensively:

"The wealthiest 20 percent of households in 1973 accounted for 44 percent of total U.S. income, according to the Census Bureau. Their share jumped to 50 percent in 2002, while everyone else's fell. For the bottom fifth, the share dropped from 4.2 percent to 3.5 percent."

"More than a million jobs have been added back to the 2.6 million lost since Bush took office, but they pay less and offer fewer benefits, such as health insurance. The new jobs are concentrated in health care, food services, and temporary employment firms, all lower-paying industries. Temp agencies alone account for about a fifth of all new jobs."

"The income gap is showing up in booming sales of luxury items. Porsche Cars North America Inc. says sales are up 17 percent for the year. Strong sales at Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue overshadow lackluster sales at stores such as Wal-Mart, Sears and Payless Shoes.

Real estate agent Lance Anderson, 38, of Overland Park, Kan., expects a record sales year, as homeowners upgrade to more expensive homes and commercial clients expand. He recently took his family to Disney World for a two-week Florida vacation."

As we begin a theoretical discussion of social versus individual sins, we must keep in mind that we all bear some personal, moral responsibility for supporting and tolerating an economy which continues to make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

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