Income Inequality News StoriesExcerpts of Key Income Inequality News Stories in Major Media
Note: This comprehensive list of income inequality news stories is usually updated once a week. Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news stories on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.
Some of the world's biggest, most profitable corporations enjoy a far lower tax rate than you do--that is, if they pay taxes at all. The most egregious example is General Electric. Last year the conglomerate generated $10.3 billion in pretax income, but ended up owing nothing to Uncle Sam. In fact, it recorded a tax benefit of $1.1 billion. How did this happen? It's complicated. GE in effect consists of two divisions: General Electric Capital and everything else. The everything else--maker of engines, power plants, TV shows and the like--would have paid a 22% tax rate if it was a standalone company. It's GE Capital that keeps the overall tax bill so low. Over the last two years, GE Capital has displayed an uncanny ability to lose lots of money in the U.S. (posting a $6.5 billion loss in 2009), and make lots of money overseas (a $4.3 billion gain). Not only do the U.S. losses balance out the overseas gains, but GE can defer taxes on that overseas income indefinitely. It's the tax benefit of overseas operations that is the biggest reason why multinationals end up with lower tax rates than the rest of us.
Note: Note that Forbes later changed the title of this article to a more innocuous "What The Top U.S. Companies Pay In Taxes." Can you believe that GE not only pays no taxes, they actually get credit from the US government? They ship US jobs overseas and then reap huge tax benefits as a result. What's wrong with this picture? For a wealth of media news articles on the hidden manipulations of major financial corporations, click here.
Economists warn that Britain is wobbling on a tightrope over a second recession where spending cuts would precipitate more unemployment and risk sinking the economy into a downward spiral. So far Labour has failed to find the words to express public outrage at the financiers' billowing wealth while the Treasury is drained. Only weeks since launching, the campaign for a Robin Hood tax on all financial transactions has gathered extraordinary support. It hasn't been hard, so profound is the untapped public anger at the bankers. This week the European parliament voted for it overwhelmingly – 536 to 80 – supported by the social democrats and the majority conservative EPP grouping: opponents were the ECP rump rightwingers the Tories belong to. Backed here by some 100 organisations from Oxfam to the Salvation Army, rarely has a campaign gathered such momentum in so short a time: 140,000 have joined and more gather by the day. Campaigners want a sterling transaction tax to come in at once. Imposing just 0.005% on every sterling deal is within Britain's sole control, raising Ł4bn. If the EU agrees a wider financial transactions tax, it would bring Britain another Ł4bn – one estimate is Ł100bn across Europe, to be used at home, in foreign aid and on climate change.
Note: See http://robinhoodtax.org.uk to support this rapidly growing movement which may make a big difference.
The 400 highest-earning U.S. households reported an average of $345 million in income in 2007, up 31 percent from a year earlier, IRS statistics show. The average tax rate for the households fell to the lowest in almost 20 years. The figures for 2007, the last year of an economic expansion, show that the average income reported by the top 400 earners more than doubled from $131.1 million in 2001. That year, Congress adopted tax cuts urged by then-President George W. Bush that Democrats say disproportionately benefit the wealthy. Each household in the top 400 of earners paid an average tax rate of 16.6 percent, the lowest since the agency began tracking the data in 1992. The statistics underscore “two long-term trends: that income at the very top has exploded and their taxes have been cut dramatically,” said Chuck Marr, director of federal tax policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington-based research group that supports increasing taxes on high-income individuals. The top 400 earners received a total $138 billion in 2007, up from $105.3 billion a year earlier. On an inflation-adjusted basis, their average income grew almost fivefold since 1992.
Nearly one in five U.S. households ran out of money to buy enough food at least once during 2009, said an antihunger group ... urging more federal action to help Americans get enough to eat. "There are no hunger-free areas of America," said Jim Weill of the Food Research and Action Center. Nationwide polling found 18.2 percent of households reported "food hardship" -- lacking money to buy enough food -- in 2009, according to the group. That is higher than the government's "food insecurity" rating of 14.6 percent of households, or 49 million people, for 2008. Households with children had a "food hardship" rate of 24.1 percent for 2009 compared with 14.9 percent among households without children. Twenty states had rates of 20 percent or higher. Seven Southern states led the list. The figures were based on responses to the question, "Have there been times in the past 12 months when you did not have enough money to buy the food that you or your family needed?" The question is similar to one asked by the Census Bureau in collecting data for the annual food-insecurity report.
Note: For much more from reliable sources on growing income inequality, click here. For more on the impacts of the financial crisis and its economic impacts leading to the Great Recession, click here.
About six million Americans receiving food stamps report they have no other income, according to an analysis of state data collected by The New York Times. In declarations that states verify and the federal government audits, they described themselves as unemployed and receiving no cash aid â€” no welfare, no unemployment insurance, and no pensions, child support or disability pay. Their numbers were rising before the recession as tougher welfare laws made it harder for poor people to get cash aid, but they have soared by about 50 percent over the past two years. About one in 50 Americans now lives in a household with a reported income that consists of nothing but a food-stamp card. Members of this straitened group range from displaced strivers ... to weathered men who sleep in shelters and barter cigarettes. Some draw on savings or sporadic under-the-table jobs. Some move in with relatives. Some get noncash help, like subsidized apartments. While some go without cash incomes only briefly before securing jobs or aid, others rely on food stamps alone for many months. The surge in this precarious way of life has been so swift that few policy makers have noticed. But it attests to the growing role of food stamps within the safety net. One in eight Americans now receives food stamps, including one in four children.
Note: For revealing reports from major media sources on increasing income inequality, click here.
For most of the past 70 years, the U.S. economy has grown at a steady clip, generating perpetually higher incomes and wealth for American households. But since 2000, the story is starkly different. The past decade was the worst for the U.S. economy in modern times, a sharp reversal from a long period of prosperity. It was, according to a wide range of data, a lost decade for American workers. The decade began in a moment of triumphalism -- there was a current of thought among economists in 1999 that recessions were a thing of the past. By the end, there were two, bookends to a debt-driven expansion that was neither robust nor sustainable. There has been zero net job creation since December 1999. No previous decade going back to the 1940s had job growth of less than 20 percent. Economic output rose at its slowest rate of any decade since the 1930s as well. Middle-income households made less in 2008, when adjusted for inflation, than they did in 1999 -- and the number is sure to have declined further during a difficult 2009. The Aughts were the first decade of falling median incomes since figures were first compiled in the 1960s. And the net worth of American households ... has also declined when adjusted for inflation, compared with sharp gains in every previous decade since data were initially collected in the 1950s.
Note: For revealing reports from major media sources on the realities of the economic crisis, click here.
Patients who lack health insurance are more likely to die from car accidents and other traumatic injuries than people who belong to a health plan -- even though emergency rooms are required to care for all comers regardless of ability to pay. An analysis of 687,091 patients who visited trauma centers nationwide from 2002 to 2006 found that the odds of dying from injuries were almost twice as high for the uninsured than for patients with private insurance, researchers reported in Archives of Surgery. The research team from Harvard University and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston used information from 1,154 U.S. hospitals that contribute to the National Trauma Data Bank. The risk of death was 80% higher for patients without any insurance, the report said. The researchers also did a separate analysis of 209,702 trauma patients ages 18 to 30 because they were less likely to have chronic health conditions that might complicate recovery. Among these younger patients, the risk of death was 89% higher for the uninsured, the study found.
Note: For many highly informative reports on important health issues, click here.
New federally financed drug research reveals a stark disparity: children covered by Medicaid are given powerful antipsychotic medicines at a rate four times higher than children whose parents have private insurance. And the Medicaid children are more likely to receive the drugs for less severe conditions than their middle-class counterparts, the data shows. Those findings, by a team from Rutgers and Columbia, are almost certain to add fuel to a long-running debate. Do too many children from poor families receive powerful psychiatric drugs not because they actually need them – but because it is deemed the most efficient and cost-effective way to control problems that may be handled much differently for middle-class children? The questions go beyond the psychological impact on Medicaid children, serious as that may be. Antipsychotic drugs can also have severe physical side effects, causing drastic weight gain and metabolic changes resulting in lifelong physical problems. Part of the reason is insurance reimbursements, as Medicaid often pays much less for counseling and therapy than private insurers do. Studies have found that children in low-income families may have a higher rate of mental health problems – perhaps two to one – compared with children in better-off families. But that still does not explain the four-to-one disparity in prescribing antipsychotics.
Note: For many important health reports from reliable sources, click here.
The incomes of the young and middle-aged — especially men — have fallen off a cliff since 2000, leaving many age groups poorer than they were even in the 1970s, a USA TODAY analysis of new Census data found. People 54 or younger are losing ground financially at an unprecedented rate in this recession, widening a gap between young and old that had been expanding for years. The dividing line between those getting richer or poorer: the year 1955. If you were born before that, you're part of a generation enjoying a four-decade run of historic income growth. Every generation after that is now sinking economically. Household income for people in their peak earning years — between ages 45 and 54 — plunged $7,700 to $64,349 from 2000 through 2008, after adjusting for inflation. People in their 20s and 30s suffered similar drops. Older people enjoyed all the gains. The line between the haves and have-nots runs through the middle of the Baby Boom, the population explosion 1946-64. "The second half of the Baby Boom may be in the worst shape of all," says demographer Cheryl Russell of New Strategist Publications, a research firm. "They're loaded with expenses for housing, cars and kids, but they will never generate the income that their parents enjoyed."
Note: For lots more on income inequality from reliable sources, click here.
The acquisition of farmland from the world's poor by rich countries and international corporations is accelerating at an alarming rate, with an area half the size of Europe's farmland targeted in the last six months, reports from UN officials and agriculture experts say. New reports from the UN and analysts in India, Washington and London estimate that at least 30m hectares is being acquired to grow food for countries such as China and the Gulf states who cannot produce enough for their populations. According to the UN, the trend is accelerating and could severely impair the ability of poor countries to feed themselves. Olivier De Schutter, special envoy for food at the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said: "[The trend] is accelerating quickly. All countries observe each other and when one sees others buying land it does the same." Nearly 20m hectares (50m acres) of farmland – an area roughly half the size of all arable land in Europe – has been sold or has been negotiated for sale or lease in the last six months. Around 10m hectares was bought last year. Some of the largest deals include South Korea's acquisition of 700,000ha in Sudan, and Saudi Arabia's purchase of 500,000ha in Tanzania. The Democratic Republic of the Congo expects to shortly conclude an 8m-hectare deal with a group of South African businesses to grow maize and soya beans as well as poultry and dairy farming. India has lent money to 80 companies to buy 350,000ha in Africa. De Schutter said that after the food crisis of 2008, many countries found food imports hit their balance of payments, "so now they want to insure themselves. This is speculation, betting on future prices. What we see now is that countries have lost trust in the international market. We know volatility will increase in the next few years. Land prices will continue to rise."
Note: This important article makes the key point that speculation is driving this "new land grab" or "neo-colonial" activity by nations. After the collapse of the bubble in financial instruments speculative activity by the biggest players is moving into commodities of all kinds, even land in places where it can be bought cheaply and bid up high. For lots more about predatory capital flows from major media sources, click here.
The rich have been getting richer for so long that the trend has come to seem almost permanent. They began to pull away from everyone else in the 1970s. By 2006, income was more concentrated at the top than it had been since the late 1920s. The recent news about resurgent Wall Street pay has seemed to suggest that not even the Great Recession could reverse the rise in income inequality. But economists say — and data is beginning to show — that a significant change may in fact be under way. The rich, as a group, are no longer getting richer. Over the last two years, they have become poorer. And many may not return to their old levels of wealth and income anytime soon. Last year, the number of Americans with a net worth of at least $30 million dropped 24 percent. Few economists expect the country to return to the relatively flat income distribution of the 1950s and 1960s. Indeed, they say that inequality is likely to remain significantly greater than it was for most of the 20th century. In 2007, the top one ten-thousandth of households took home 6 percent of the nation’s income, up from 0.9 percent in 1977. It was the highest such level since at least 1913, the first year for which the I.R.S. has data. The top 1 percent of earners took home 23.5 percent of income, up from 9 percent three decades earlier.
Note: Two researchers into income inequality, Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty, recently released a detailed report showing that income inequality in 2007, just before the real estate bubble burst and the financial crisis unfolded, was the highest since 1917. To read their report, "Striking it Richer: The Evolution of Top Incomes in the United States," click here. For analysis of the report, click here.
When capitalism seemed on the verge of collapse last fall, Kristin Halvorsen, Norway’s Socialist finance minister and a longtime free market skeptic, did more than crow. As investors the world over sold in a panic, she bucked the tide, authorizing Norway’s $300 billion sovereign wealth fund to ramp up its stock buying program by $60 billion — or about 23 percent of Norway's economic output. "The timing was not that bad," Ms. Halvorsen said, smiling with satisfaction over the broad worldwide market rally that began in early March. The global financial crisis has brought low the economies of just about every country on earth. But not Norway. With a quirky contrariness as deeply etched in the national character as the fjords carved into its rugged landscape, Norway has thrived by going its own way. When others splurged, it saved. When others sought to limit the role of government, Norway strengthened its cradle-to-grave welfare state. And in the midst of the worst global downturn since the Depression, Norway’s economy grew last year by just under 3 percent. The government enjoys a budget surplus of 11 percent. Norway is a relatively small country with a ... population of 4.6 million and the advantages of being a major oil exporter. Even though prices have sharply declined, the government is not particularly worried. That is because Norway avoided the usual trap that plagues many energy-rich countries. Instead of spending its riches lavishly, it passed legislation ensuring that oil revenue went straight into its sovereign wealth fund, state money that is used to make investments around the world. Now its sovereign wealth fund is close to being the largest in the world.
Note: For lots more on the global economic and financial crisis from reliable sources, click here.
When Jody Richards saw a homeless man begging outside a downtown McDonald's recently, he bought the man a cheeseburger. There's nothing unusual about that, except that Richards is homeless, too, and the 99-cent cheeseburger was an outsize chunk of the $9.50 he'd earned that day panhandling. The generosity of poor people isn't so much rare as rarely noticed, however. In fact, the nation's poor donate more, in percentage terms, than higher-income groups do, surveys of charitable giving show. What's more, their generosity declines less in hard times than the generosity of richer givers does. "The lowest-income fifth [of the population] always give at more than their capacity," said Virginia Hodgkinson, former vice president for research at Independent Sector, a Washington, D.C.-based association of nonprofit agencies. "The next two-fifths give at capacity, and those above that are capable of giving two or three times more than they give." The Bureau of Labor Statistics' latest survey of consumer expenditure found that the poorest fifth of U.S. households contributed an average of 4.3 percent of their incomes to charitable organizations in 2007. The richest fifth gave at less than half that rate, 2.1 percent. The figures probably undercount remittances by legal and illegal immigrants to family and friends back home, a multibillion-dollar outlay to which the poor contribute disproportionally. None of the middle fifths of U.S. households, in contrast, gave away as much as 3 percent of their incomes. What makes poor people's generosity even more impressive is that their giving generally isn't tax deductible, because they don't earn enough to itemize their charitable tax deductions.
The foreign nonunion auto companies located in the South have a plan to reduce wages and benefits at their factories in the United States. And to do it, they need to destroy the United Auto Workers. Last week, Senate Republicans from some Southern states went to work trying to do just that, on the foreign car companies' behalf. [Republican] representatives from states that subsidize companies such as Honda, Volkswagen, Toyota and Nissan first tried to force the UAW to take reductions in wages and benefits as a condition for supporting the auto industry bailout bill. When the UAW refused, those senators torpedoed the bill. They claimed that they couldn't support the bill without specifics about how wages would be "restructured." They didn't, however, require such specificity when it came to bailing out the financial sector. Their grandstanding, and the government's generally lackluster response to the auto crisis, highlight many of the problems that have caused our current economic mess: the lack of concern about manufacturing, the privileged way our government treats the financial sector, and political support given to companies that attempt to slash worker's wages. When one compares how the auto industry and the financial sector are being treated by Congress, the double standard is staggering. At Goldman Sachs ... employee compensation made up 71% of total operating expenses in 2007. In the auto industry, by contrast, autoworker compensation makes up less than 10% of the cost of manufacturing a car. Hundreds of billions were given to the financial-services industry with barely a question about compensation; the auto bailout, however, was sunk on this issue alone.
Note: For highly revealing reports from reliable sources on the realities of the Wall Street bailout, click here.
Despite the Wall Street meltdown, the nation's biggest banks are preparing to pay their workers as much as last year or more, including bonuses tied to personal and company performance. So far this year, nine of the largest U.S. banks, including some that have cut thousands of jobs, have seen total costs for salaries, benefits and bonuses grow by an average of 3 percent from a year ago, according to an Associated Press review. "Taxpayers have lost their life savings, and now they are being asked to bail out corporations," New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said of the AP findings. "It's adding insult to injury to continue to pay outsized bonuses and exorbitant compensation." That there is a rise in pay, or at least not a pronounced dropoff, from 2007 is surprising because many of the same companies were doing some of their best business ever, at least in the first half of last year. In 2008, each quarter has been weaker than the last. "There are, of course, expectations that the payouts should be going down," David Schmidt, a senior compensation consultant at James F. Reda & Associates. "But we haven't seen that show up yet." Some banks are setting aside large amounts. At Citigroup, which has cut 23,000 jobs this year amid the crisis, pay expenses for the first nine months of this year came to $25.9 billion, 4 percent more than the same period last year. Typically, about 60 percent of Wall Street pay goes to salary and benefits, while about 40 percent goes to end-of-the-year cash and stock bonuses that hinge on performance, both for the individual and the company.
Note: For lots more on the Wall Street bailout, click here.
Economic inequality is growing in the world's richest countries, particularly in the United States. The gap between rich and poor has widened over the last 20 years in nearly all the countries studied, even as trade and technological advances have spurred rapid growth in their economies. With job losses and home foreclosures skyrocketing and many of these countries now facing recession, policymakers must act quickly ... the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said. "What will happen if the next decade is not one of world growth but of world recession? If a rising tide didn't lift all boats, how will they be affected by an ebbing tide?" Oxford University economist Anthony Atkinson said at a conference at the organization's Paris headquarters. In a 20-year study of its member countries, the group found inequality had increased in 27 of its 30 members as top earners' incomes soared while others' stagnated. The United States has the highest inequality and poverty rates in the organization after Mexico and Turkey, and the gap has increased rapidly since 2000, the report said. France, meanwhile, has seen inequalities fall in the past 20 years as poorer workers are better paid. Rising inequality threatens social mobility ... which is lower in countries like the United States, Great Britain and Italy, where inequality is high, than countries with less inequality such as Denmark, Sweden and Australia, the report said. Wealthy households are not only widening the gap with the poor, but in countries such as the United States, Canada and Germany, they are also leaving middle-income earners further behind.
Note: For more reports from reliable sources on increasing income inequality, click here.
Jamie Johnson, heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune, used to be an accepted member of the New York elite, with a trust fund, a top education and loads of old-money friends. Now, thanks to his film career, he's not as welcome. "I'll walk into a social event where there are a number of people who I grew up with and they'll treat me apprehensively," says Mr. Johnson, 28. His relationship with his family, especially his father, has also cooled. "There was a sense that 'If you go too far with these [films], you won't be welcome in your own home,'" he says. Mr. Johnson is getting used to being an outcast among the upper class. After the 2003 release of his first film, "Born Rich," which looked at the lives of the silver-spoon set, and now his second, "The One Percent," which focuses on the American wealth gap, Mr. Johnson has become the rich man's Michael Moore -- a trust-fund populist who's not afraid to attack the wealthy and powerful. While his wealth has helped him gain access to the people he's filming, it's also carried personal costs. He has learned the hard way that the biggest betrayal for the rich is to talk publicly about their riches. "I think most wealthy people want to live with this myth of equal opportunity and equality in this country," he says. "I don't think they want to question their right to this wealth." With "The One Percent," Mr. Johnson wanted to show ... that today's wealthy have become an increasingly isolated elite. He says rather than using their wealth for good, they have used it to restructure the economy, lower their taxes, cut social programs for the middle and lower classes, and amass ever more wealth. "We have an aristocracy in this country that has convinced everybody else that they don't exist," Mr. Johnson says.
Between 1983 and 1999, men’s life expectancy decreased in more than 50 U.S. counties, according to a recent study by [Majid] Ezzati, associate professor of international health at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), and colleagues. For women, the news was even worse: life expectancy decreased in more than 900 counties—more than a quarter of the total. This means 4 percent of American men and 19 percent of American women can expect their lives to be shorter than or, at best, the same length as those of people in their home counties two decades ago. The United States no longer boasts anywhere near the world’s longest life expectancy. It doesn’t even make the top 40. In this and many other ways, the richest nation on earth is not the healthiest. Poor health is not distributed evenly across the population, but concentrated among the disadvantaged. But in the United States, the gap between the rich and the poor is far wider than in most other developed democracies, and it is getting wider. That is true both before and after taxes: the United States also does less than most other rich democracies to redistribute income from the rich to the poor. Living in a society with wide disparities—in health, in wealth, in education—is worse for all the society’s members, even the well off. People at the top of the U.S. income spectrum “live a very long time,” says Cabot professor of public policy and epidemiology Lisa Berkman, “but people at the top in some other countries live a lot longer.”
Note: For lots more on the increasingly severe impacts of rising income inequality, click here.
In a new sign of increasing inequality in the U.S., the richest 1 percent of Americans in 2006 garnered the highest share of the nation's adjusted gross income for two decades, and possibly the highest since 1929, according to Internal Revenue Service data. Meanwhile, the average tax rate of the wealthiest 1 percent fell to its lowest level in at least 18 years. The figures are from the IRS's income-statistics division and were posted on the agency's Web site last week. The 2006 data are the most recent available. According to the figures, the richest 1 percent reported 22 percent of the nation's total adjusted gross income in 2006. That is up from 21.2 percent a year earlier, and is the highest in the 19 years that the IRS has kept strictly comparable figures. The 1988 level was 15.2 percent. Earlier IRS data show the last year the share of income belonging to the top 1 percent was at such a high level as it was in 2006 was in 1929, but changes in measuring income make a precise comparison difficult. The average tax rate in 2006 for the top 1 percent, based on adjusted gross income, was 22.8 percent, ... the fifth straight year of declines. The average tax rate of this group was 28.9 percent in 1996.
Note: For more on accelerating income inequality from reliable sources, click here.
The United States of America is becoming less united by the day. A 30-year gap now exists in the average life expectancy between Mississippi, in the Deep South, and Connecticut, in prosperous New England. Huge disparities have also opened up in income, health and education depending on where people live in the US, according to a report published yesterday. The American Human Development Index has [issued a report] measuring well-being ... with shocking results. The US finds itself ranked 42nd in global life expectancy and 34th in survival of infants to age. Suicide and murder are among the top 15 causes of death and although the US is home to just 5 per cent of the global population it accounts for 24 per cent of the world's prisoners. The report points to a rigged system that does little to lessen inequalities. "The report shows that although America is one of the richest nations in the world, it is woefully behind when it comes to providing opportunity and choices to all Americans to build a better life," the authors said. Some of its more shocking findings reveal that ... Asian-American males have the best quality of life and black Americans the lowest, with a staggering 50-year life expectancy gap between the two groups. Using official government statistics, the study points out that because American schools are funded primarily from local property taxes, rich districts get the best state education. The US has no federally mandated sick pay, paternity leave or annual paid vacation.
Note: For lots more on health issues from reliable, verifiable sources, click here.
Important Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news stories on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.