Let's Repudiate Reaganomics

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…I want to tell you a tale of two countries, Country A and Country B. Country A has extraordinary wealth. In fact, according to the World Bank, national income per person in Country A is behind just Singapore, Norway, Luxembourg, Hong Kong and Switzerland.

In the past six years, total wealth in Country A is up over $34 trillion. That $34 trillion equals out to roughly $100,000 per person in Country A. And if you’re a business executive in Country A, you’re doing even better, because the ratio of CEO to average worker pay in Country A is a whopping 273-1.

But things aren’t so great over in Country B. In Country B, 3.5 million people are working full-time jobs that only pay the minimum wage. As of 2012, 46.5 million people in Country B were living in poverty, while 49 million people were struggling with hunger and food insecurity. And over 610,000 people in Country B are homeless, forced to live on the streets in a never-ending struggle to survive.

Country B has the 17th-highest poverty rate of countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the disposable income of families in the middle income bracket in Country B decreased 4 percent between 2000 and 2010. So, what country is Country A, and what country is Country B?

Well, they’re both the United States. The U.S. is filthy rich, but the reality is that only the wealthy elite are benefiting from our nation’s great wealth. Total wealth in the U.S. may be up over $34 trillion since the Great Recession, but that wealth isn’t going to every man, woman, and child in America. Instead, it’s going to the wealthy elite.

As the blog USAgainstGreed.Org points out, as of 2013, there were 3.6 million full-time minimum wage workers in America, and their combined 2013 earnings were less than the 2013 stock market gains of 8 of the richest Americans alone. Meanwhile, the richest 10% of Americans control over two-thirds of the nation’s total wealth, while the average household income for the bottom 90% of Americans is just under $30,000. And, since 1979, the top 1 percent of Americans have seen a 155% increase in after-tax income, while the bottom 20% of Americans have seen just a 45% change in income. So, how did we get here?

How did we get to a point in our history where our nation has record levels of wealth, but millions of people are still struggling with hunger, poverty and homelessness? It’s all thanks to Reaganomics.

The income gap in America has widened exponentially since Reagan took office and implemented the so-called “Reagan Tax Cuts.” Between 1947 and 1980, income gains were shared fairly equally between the wealthiest Americans and everyone else. But then Reagan came to Washington and everything changed.

The wealthy elite began to take home more of our nation’s income gains, while income gains for everyone else began to stay relatively stagnant. In 1980, the top 1 percent of Americans controlled 10% of annual U.S. income. In 2007, the top 1 percent controlled 23.5% of annual U.S. income; the highest it’s been since the Great Depression.

America really is a tale of two cities right now; one city that is seeing record levels of wealth and income, and is filled with people living lives of luxury, and another city that is facing record levels of poverty and despair, whose people are struggling to put food on the table and a roof over their heads. And this divide is getting larger by the day.

It’s time to ensure that all Americans are able to share in the wealth of our great nation, and that starts with a complete repudiation of Reaganomics, because Reaganomics has been a complete and utter failure. It’s that simple. Americans need to stand up, and demand that we start sharing the wealth, like we did so successfully before Reagan came to Washington. America is one nation. It’s time we started acting like it.


DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 10 years 11 weeks ago

It's time to Deep 6, (666). Reaganomics needs to go the way of the T Rex--forever buried where it will never be found alive again.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 10 years 10 weeks ago

DAnneMarc: Be careful of what you wish for. At the rate we're going, Reaganomics is likely to go the same way as the T Rex......by way of climate change!

Mark Saulys's picture
Mark Saulys 10 years 10 weeks ago

The fact is, Reaganomics is not a failure for them. For them it's just like it should be, if anything, not unequal enough. They are happy as can be so they won't change anything unless they're forced.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 10 years 10 weeks ago

I'll offer this about Americans standing up and demanding a sharing of our wealth. Unions, unions, and more labor unions.....it's the time tested way to level the economic playing field. In addition we need to repeal free trade agreements and of course return to pre Reagan tax rates

Reaganomics cannot coexist with organized labor and the billionaires know it. Unions raise the bar for everyone, not just their members, and we tend to vote progressive. Reaganomics is the antithesis of organized labor......Reaganomics is simply a race to a third world finish line for the vast majority. So in my opinion, seizing power in our workplaces is a good way to start the progressive economic revolution.

DHBranski's picture
DHBranski 10 years 10 weeks ago

The idea of "two America's is once again popular (as it was in the early-mid 1960s). However, it is a false discussion today. Today, there are three separate America's -- poor, working and middle class, and rich. Each time that the richest few gained the upper hand in the past, to the harm of the country, the poor and middle class ultimately united to push back, to everyone's benefit. This time around, the middle class and poor were pitted against each other. A massive portion of our working class jobs have been shipped out since the 1980s, and the middle class cheered as Clinton wiped out poverty relief. America's poverty crisis was virtually censored out of the media, mainstream and "progressive" alike. Predictably, the rich are now doing to the middle class what the middle class did to the poor. The middle class continues to shrink. One certainty about poverty is that the longer it is ignored, the deeper and wider it grows.

BMetcalfe's picture
BMetcalfe 10 years 10 weeks ago

Yes, we need to get our Unions back. And we need to stop the Republicans from forcing women back into the Stone Age. There is nothing more the Republicans would like to see than Little Women - at home, raising babies, cleaning the house, cooking meals - because women no longer have the opportunity to get a college education. They detest the fact that we have access to birth control and cancer screenings. They don't want us to have updated information about our bodies. THIS is what the GOP wants. They want just the men to have all the high-paying jobs, and women at home in aprons, getting pregnant every year with no way out.

Not all women were ever born to be mothers. Not all women were born to get married and stay focussed or satisfied inside a household. THIS is what scares the GOP. They see women moving right on up in the world, leading large companies, staying single or (shudder!) childless, having sex whenever the women want, and this goes against their manlihoods and their interpretation of whatever religion they believe.

This is all about CONTROL. They want to go back to the forties and '50s... but they forget that in those days, Unions were getting strong and leveling the playing field for men in all walks of life. And when they talk about the Greatest Generation, they forget that when the men all went off to fight WWII, women had to go to work to support the family, wearing pants to work on the A-Bomb, and that's when women learned they could do more, excel more, and become something which had previously been just wistful thoughts. They don't remember how things were and how they became afterward... they remember it the way they want to remember it... and I have worked too hard for lower wages in my life to stop and let them reshape the world into what they would like it to appear.

In my very first long term job, I was making $325.00 a month, and I was training men who came to the company with two years of college or more. The men's salary was $475 to start, and at the end of their 90-day training period, they were given a raise to $550.00 per month while my salary stayed the same for the entire first year, with only a 10% increase at the beginning of the second year of employment. Salaries were secret then. None of us were supposed to ever discuss what we made with anyone else; to do so was grounds for termination. It was my male supervisor who tipped me off to what was going on, because he had tried to get a higher wage for me, and he was told I was just a single kid who'd fall in love and get married one day soon; the Company had no reason to invest extra money in me, regardless of how many hours I worked in a day and on weekends, to train people and still keep my regular daily duties at the top of performance levels.

No, we're NOT going to allow them to shove us back into the kitchen or the nursery if we don't want to be there. And with strong Unions again, we all can make good wages and the poor will be less. Women are just as strong-hearted as men, and when it comes to out-foxing the foxes, we're bright enough to do that again, too.

So bring back the fairness. Bring back the Union jobs. We will take back our rights to be educated and choose if and when we want to marry and have families. We will put the old men in their respective places - out of our heads, out of our bodies, and into retirement. That's what will make America strong for everyone, again.

DHBranski's picture
DHBranski 10 years 10 weeks ago

Unions have largely been phased out since 1980 or so. Middle class jobs have continued to be broken down into pt. time, bottom wage labor, prison labor, workfare labor, etc. Few are able to form or benefit from union jobs. Those in unions are the elite today, and as tends to be true of the elite, they are oblivious to those left behind as the US shipoped out a huge portion of our working class jobs (since Reagan). This generation explicitly rejected the progressive economic agenda. From FDR to Reagan, the US reached its height of wealth and productivity primarily as a result of our socioeconomic policies and programs. These programs enabled millions through the years to keep their families housed and fed during periodic economic downturns, so that they could get back on their feet. We then reversed course, doing the opposite, and the US has been on a downhill slide since, falling behind all of the modern nations in virtually every respect. We chose not to learn from our own history. As unions disappear and the middle class is phased out, we will, indeed, once against be two nations, rich and poor.

DHBranski's picture
DHBranski 10 years 10 weeks ago

I disagree. Men want all women to work full time outside the home while maintaining 100% of the traditional mother/wife workload. When the going gets tough, many men get going -- right out the door, leaving their responsibilities behind them. The womren are then single parents. Single parents who are male are regarded as virtually heroic, while single parents who are female are regarded as something inferior. For many, a single job loss can throw them and their children into poverty. At this point, their fellow women look at them with disdain. The majority of America's poor are women, and it certainly isn't because they aren't trying hard enough. With this generation, women have been very deeply divided by class, middle class against the poor.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 10 years 10 weeks ago

DHBranski, while I see a lot of truth in your last post, I still really appreciate Ms. Metcalfe's perspective. Her third paragraph from the bottom beautifully illustrates the reason I've been self-employed virtually all my working life. Seems a given that if you're female, you're just a cheaper pair of hands. - AIW

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 10 years 10 weeks ago

DHBranski -- Be very careful. The 1% remember that the poor and the middle class got to together to fight back. They are trying everywhere possilbe to influence people to write blogs like you did. I don't remember any cheering when Clinton changed welfare as we know it, repealed the glass-siegle (sp?) act,, passed NAFTA etc. The only cheering came from the 1% on national TV (since they owned it)>

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 10 years 10 weeks ago

DHB -- I just want to remind everyone again that we were just one vote short in the senate in 2009-10 from passing the Employee Free Choice Act. Every democrat voted for it and every republican voted against it. Please vote democratic because it can make a big difference.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 10 years 10 weeks ago

I may be having a technical problem with the blog

Four oF Nine's picture
Four oF Nine 10 years 10 weeks ago

A century ago the US population had a much more progressive/populist impulse than now. There were great strides made toward economic equality in terms of tax policy. The idea of taxing the wealthiest at confiscatory rates is seen now as heresy.

ckrob's picture
ckrob 10 years 10 weeks ago

A third of a century ago the American people were sold the idea that in changing our laws to favor the rich we would all benefit by a trickle down effect. As Thom's note above indicates, the second part of that deal never happened. We are, however, left with the laws enacted to profit the wealthy while taking from the middle class and poor. Now the concentration of wealth has given the wealthy the ability to prevent a reversal of our problematic economic system. And they can do it with their pocket change. When a full time job frequently does not provide enough to buy food and a roof over one's head we are truely returning to a serf society. Only this time the master/Lord is a corporation, totally divorced from concern for the common good. A better recipe for a system collapse I cannot imagine.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 10 years 10 weeks ago

CKROB -- The thing I want everyone to wrap there head around is that when raygun lowered the top tax rate the top earners paid 2 to 3 times as much taxes. As Larry Beinhart (one of Thom's favorite references with regard to high tax rates for the rich) points out this is because the rich no longer had to avoid taxes by investing in their businesses.

ckrob's picture
ckrob 10 years 10 weeks ago

The reason the rich paid more tax with a lower tax rate was because THEY had a much, much larger income. But it remained in their hands and did not do the trickle down that was promised. So now after all these years, voodoo economics has created billionaires and a growing poor segment of our society. Cut it any way you want, we're worse off as a society than say the scandanavian countries or how we were before Reaganomics came along, due to increasing economic inequality. I'm not much comforted by the fact that the rich are enormously richer. ---- p.s. I heard the rich are still avoiding taxes. Romney paid a lower tax rate than I did according to the one return he released. 'Course he only made $23 million that year. Don't know how he gets by with that 47% freeloading off him.

ckrob's picture
ckrob 10 years 10 weeks ago

By the way, if they put their money in their businesses, that is, did not take it out, they paid no tax on it. So what produced all that additional tax they paid?

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 10 years 10 weeks ago

ckrob -- That is the point, at the lower tax rate they did not keep their income in their business. It took the rich a few years for them to change the tax code, so they didn't even have to pay that lower tax. The only case I know about is the LA Dodgers ex-owner, McCourt. He used accelerated depreciation with reinvestment credits. I would guess Mitt Romney avoided paying taxes by performing his leveraged buyouts inside of a IRA.

ckrob's picture
ckrob 10 years 10 weeks ago

Similar points, different directions. Tnx

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 10 years 10 weeks ago

Taxation without representation! Wheeeee! - AIW

bobbler's picture
bobbler 10 years 10 weeks ago

Exactly (hit the ail on the head). This is full blown class warfare. The rich even control the outcome of elections vey flooding elections with money. Last congressional race, Politician nine out of 10 times. Anyone who believes votes determine the outcome of elections is sadly naïve (Determines the outcome in a meaningful sense as intended, that is).

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