The Rich get Richer: Income Inequality in the US

The United States has a wealth distribution problem. 80 percent of the wealth created in the United States in 2017 was created by the top 1 percent of earners. That’s insane. What’s even more insane is that top one percent of earners now have more wealth then the bottom 90 percent combined.

And yet as a country we seem to be okay with this fact. We seem to be so okay with this fact that we decided to exacerbate the problem by cutting the top tax brackets from 39.6 percent to 37 percent. Even more we cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, in another move that primarily benefits the top earners.

That’s even though income disparity in the United States was already getting worse, not better, before the tax cuts. Top earners now make 90 percent more than they did in 1963, while the bottom only saw their pay increase by 10 percent over that same period. That’s an insane income disparity statistic that we shouldn’t be okay with.

Even worse, the bottom 10 percent of Americans were, on average, 1,000 dollars in debt in 2016. That’s compared to having no wealth, and no debt, in 1963. If you were in the middle (50th percentile) you doubled your wealth in that same span. But if you were in the top 10 percent it increased 500 percent, and those in the top 1 percent saw it increase by 700 percent.

What’s that all mean in one simple statistic? In 1963 the top earners had six times more wealth then the average American. In 2016 they had 12 times the wealth. It’s a problem that is getting worse not better.

We’ve been taught that if you keep your head down and work hard you can claw your way up to the top, but the truth of the matter is if you keep your head down and work hard, you’ll be lucky to claw your way out of debt. That’s what the statistics are showing us.

Income disparity like we have in the United States is crippling for an economy, it stagnates growth and increases the government’s indebtedness. Something needs to be done. We start by identifying who the one percent are.

To be in the top 1 percent of all earners your household must be bringing in a minimum of 481,000 dollars a year. And while that’s no number to sneeze at, it pales in comparison to the top .01 percent of earners, which bring in 35.1 million dollars a year, and the top .001 percent of earners which bring in 152 million dollars a year.

That’s compared to the average American household, those in the 50th percentile, that make just under 40,000 a year. I would imagine that most Americans tend to believe that more than half the households in the country make 40,000 a year, but that’s part of the problem.

We are led to believe that the wealth in our country is better distributed then it is. But the truth of the matter is, as time goes on income inequality keeps getting worse, and that’s a trend we just can’t afford to continue. We need to ensure that income inequality doesn’t get any worse then it is, or else we can rest assured that our economy, and our country, is going to suffer. dlocked0

Defense spending and tax increases: what we need to do to balance the budget

moneyIn case you’ve missed it, the United States is going broke. The current national debt is at 22 trillion dollars, with a national deficit of nearly 1 trillion dollars. With our overall revenue at just under 3.5 trillion dollars a year, it would take us 7 years with the government spending ZERO dollars to just break even.

The bad news, the GOP, who historically has declared themselves the “fiscally conservative party”, has reneged on their promises and shown their true colors over their last two years in office. They have shown that they are anything but fiscally conservative, ballooning the deficit, which was down to 500 billion dollars during the last year of the Obama presidency.

Still with the debt so high what must we do to begin to claw our way out? We need to do the same thing every family does when they realize they are spending too much, decrease spending (budget cuts), increase revenue (taxes), or in this case both.

When you look at the budget, the biggest discretionary spending cost in the United States by far is defense spending (i.e the military). In 2018, the military had a budget of just under 700 billion dollars. That is by far the most any country spends in the world, even when compared to that countries GDP.

What the United States needs to do is start relying on it’s allies more when it comes to national defense and pushing its global interests. Currently the United States GDP is roughly equal to all its NATO allies combined, however, when it comes to defense spending the United States is accountable for close to 72 percent of all NATO defense spending. That means while we are currently spending 700 billion dollars a year, we should be spending only 480 billion dollars a year.  

The United States cannot afford to do this. We need to reign in our defense spending and force our allies to pay their fair share, if not they will gladly let us run our country into bankruptcy as they enjoy the benefits of our free defense services. The only way that they will ever start to pay their share is if we stop covering for them. We need to cut our defense spending, and then the next time Russia, China, North Korea, Syria, or a multitude of other bad actors misbehave, look to NATO to respond.  

Second, we need to increase taxes. It’s the only way to even come close to balancing the budget. While every politician in Washington knows this, the GOP was willing to mortgage the future of the country for a short-term political gain when they passed a massive tax cut in 2017. To make matters worse those tax cuts disproportionately benefited corporations and the super-rich, the same groups that are being taxed at historically low rates, when our country has a larger national debt than ever.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s proposed 70 percent tax on income over 10 million dollars a year, would bring in an additional 72 billion dollars annually (7% of our national deficit, or 14% if we reverted back to Obama era spending) and that’s just by returning the top marginal tax rate to a figure that it was always at before the 1980’s. There are ways to get our spending in check without catastrophic consequences if we selectively target our tax rates like most European countries do, but we need to do it now before it’s too late.

This country needs to elect politicians that are truly fiscally conservative, those that recognize defense spending needs to come down and taxes need to go up. Something that those in red refuse to admit.