The Pernicious Funnel

american income inequalityThe United States of America is presently running a larger deficit than any other time in its history. Measured in constant dollars, which adjusts for inflation, our country is deeper in debt than ever.

Dozens of states, including California, the republic of the west coast, are running near-catastrophic deficits that inspire economic commentators to use words like “bankrupt” and “shut down” to describe the impending doom that will surely descend upon the area like so many cicadas.

Local municipalities across the nation are crying poverty, cutting back services and raising taxes.

The job market is reportedly terrible, with core labor tasks being outsourced overseas and millions of moderately skilled Americans being reassigned to the so-called “service industry.”

Gasoline prices are high, new business opportunities are low, and every sector of our gross national product forecasts a “downturn.” The economy, everyone agrees, is a wreck.

And yet.Some Carry a Heavier Load

Every time we turn around, there’s a new multi-million-dollar golf course development being built, and the “sold out” signs in front of the enormous houses lining the fairways appear more quickly than a senator at a $1,000-a-plate fundraiser. Every time we read the Wall Street Journal — which is daily — another corporate CEO is being awarded tens of millions of dollars in salary and bonuses for accomplishing goals that seem invisible to our benighted eyes. Every time we read the food pages of the Los Angeles Times — which is weekly — another fancy restaurant featuring $38 entrees and $120 bottles of wine is opening, and getting a reservation, we are warned, may take months.

Nearly 2,600 people, more than triple last year’s total, paid $10,000 a piece to enter this year’s World Series of Poker.

The market in private jets is booming. Nice yachts are being built. And no one any longer blinks an eye when the neighbor parks his new $75,000 automobile in the driveway.

Our highly unscientific conclusion is: Our nation’s wealth is increasingly being concentrated in the hands of a few at the expense of many. Some guy named Marx suggested this might happen.

Naked greed, of course, has something to do with it, as does our political leadership’s cozy relationship with the corporations that run our country. But at some point we must admit that what we’re seeing in America’s economy is simply the natural result of capitalism. Money flows to money, and those with a small gravitational pull have a hard time holding onto what they’ve acquired, let alone amassing more. Those with a Jupiter-size portfolio draw lucrative satellites into their orbit. And eventually the lesser stars flicker out.

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