Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Hummer As A Percentage

Wages as a percentage of GDP are hovering near an all-time record low.  That means that American workers are bringing home a smaller share of the economic pie than ever before. (The Economic Collapse blog.)

Personal income statistics can tick up or down, and each person's sense of their own well being can tick up or down, but charts like this leave little doubt that we are getting a smaller and smaller share of the wealth our labor creates.

The chart, by the way, comes from the St Louis Federal Reserve Bank. It's one of "10 Amazing Charts" found on the St Louis Fed's web site by Michael Snyder, who writes the Economic Collapse blog.

I've written about a widening gap in wealth between the Capitalist class and the rest of us, and a widening gap in income. But I've put it in terms of the widening gap in the totals, as in, the top 20 percent now owns 80 percent of the wealth, or gets 80 percent of the income, up from 35 percent in the 70s or whatever. This chart demonstrates that gap in a different way.

It all amounts to the same thing. The pie, regardless of its overall size, is being divided up less equitably all the time. We're getting less, they're getting more.

Meanwhile In America

There's a big flashy Hummer now, parked in one of the parking spaces here at the soon to be fashionable Tierra Pointe apartment complex on Albuquerque's west side. About a year ago there was a Hummer parked in one of the parking spaces, too. It disappeared after awhile, as this one will, I don't doubt. Whether or not the arrival of the Hummers coincides with the arrival of income tax returns, I don't know. Why they go away after awhile, I can only speculate

Rents here range from $519 for a studio apartment to $739 for a three bedroom. The payment on a $50,000 Hummer is probably in that range. You can also find a fixer-upper house in Albuquerque on a one-third acre lot for about $50,000, although the credit for that will be a little more difficult to arrange.

The thought of fixing up a dismal looking little house may never enter the constellation of thoughts and emotions and yearnings that drive the behavior of the typical resident here at the soon to be fashionable Tierra Pointe apartments. What enters into it are what your peers are talking about, and the commercials and billboards, and when someone pulls up close behind you in their flashy new pickup ruck and then blows by you if you don't accelerate to your vehicle's limit coming off the red light.

The big flashy Hummers attract attention, but for the most part, here at the soon to be fashionable Tierra Pointe apartment complex, you see little Hyundais and small Chevrolets, and single working women and single working men, and young families, the Hispanics who are making Bernalillo County into a stronghold of the Democratic Party.

You see some of the big flashy new pickup trucks that are advertised heavily on local TV, and you see some old pickup trucks, with their back ends always full of rolls of old carpeting and padding, that will be taken to the landfill tomorrow, or the next day, or the next.


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