Insights & Advice

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The Elephant in the room

 

Mid-term elections are less than two weeks away. Issues, for the most part, have fallen bye the wayside as pure politics runs amuck. No wonder voter turnout is traditionally so poor in this midterm madness.

Republicans are running against an unpopular president and are expected to sweep both houses of congress.  All they have to do is keep the focus on President Obama while mobilizing their die-hard base.  That strategy appears to be highly effective so why worry about mundane things like issues? After all, if voters don’t care, why should they?

Both parties’ campaigns are now dictated by whatever voters are worrying about on a day-by-day basis.  The fear of an Ebola pandemic plays well, while the ISIS terrorists are always good for a sound bite or two.  The minimum wage, the Affordable Care Act, the economy; these are all given short shrift while the most pressing challenge of this generation barely receives a mention. I’m talking about income inequality.

Despite gaining over 2 million new jobs in the last year or two, income inequality has widened in the United States and is, in fact, accelerating. Our country now finishes dead last in income inequality when compared to all developed nations. The U.S. actually trails Mexico, Chile and Turkey (all emerging markets) when it comes to an equitable distribution of wealth among our citizens.

As this disgraceful and dangerous wealth gap widens, shouldn’t we be looking to our lawmakers in these mid-term elections to address this problem?  Unfortunately, that’s like asking the fox to guard the henhouse.

The average wealth of a congressman is now above $750,000. In the Senate, it’s even higher, at $2.6 million. That wealth is distributed among both parties. John Kerry, for example is worth $231 million, while Diane Feinstein, claims $69 million in assets and Frank Lautenberg is worth $85 million to name a few. Clearly our representatives are part of the problem.

The failure to address income inequality in this country is not confined to one or the other parties. Democrats are just as anxious to ignore the problem as are Republicans. It may surprise you that income inequality is actually higher in Democratic-controlled districts than in Republican ones. In the 35 districts with the highest income inequality in the country, Democrats represent 32 of those districts.

These 35 districts share some similar traits. They contain small, enormously wealthy elites surrounded by impoverish neighbors. Most are situated within urban areas such as Washington, Boston, New York, Chicago and Philadelphia. Here are some examples.

Income inequality in New York’s 10th District, represented by Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat, is about equal to Haiti. Nancy Pelosi’s California District 12 ranks on par with Bolivia. John Boehner’s Ohio District has the same income inequality as Nigeria and Paul Ryan’s Minnesota District 6 is as bad as Burundi’s.

It gets worse. Our elected representatives have actually exasperated the income inequality problem over the last twenty years. Two decades of federal spending and expanding regulation by both parties have spawned a growing elite class of federal contractors, lobbyists and lawyers in the D.C. area. Over $100 billion has been funneled into this area since 1989. Is it any wonder that ten of the capital’s surrounding counties in Virginia and Maryland place in the top 20 counties nationwide in household income? Manassas Park City, Craig County, and Bath County, all in Virginia, placed within the top ten counties nationwide that ranked among the highest in income inequality in the nation.

At this point, about 15 cents of every dollar of the federal procurement budget stays in the DC area. That amounted to $80 billion out of $ 536 billion in 2010. Think of the monumental transfer of wealth that is occurring from 98% of taxpayers to fewer than 2% of the U.S. population. Those in the top 5% of income in our nation’s hometown make 54 times the money that the bottom 20% receives.

All of this is being conveniently ignored by those campaigning for your vote. So when you pull that lever in November, remember these are the people you will be voting for– regardless of political party.

As the rich get richer, your share in the nation’s wealth and income is falling lower and lower. Do not be swayed by the fear mongers. Ask yourself if voting for these clowns is in your best self-interest and that of America’s generations to come. I sincerely doubt it. If you want to keep up abreast of my most up to date articles follow me on Twitter @afewdollarsmore or on Facebook at afewdollarsmore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in A Few Dollars More, Macroeconomics