Growing Financial Inequality in 2014


Welcome back My Dear Readers to The Other Shoe. I am writing this article on Monday January 27th, 2014. Tomorrow is the ‘State of the Union’ address by President Obama (referred to as the “State of the Coupe” by hyperbolic and hyper-partisan radio personality Rush Limbaugh). Most of America already knows that President Obama’s address is to focus on the growing financial inequality in America. I ma very happy, if that turns out to be the theme of his speech. However, with all due respect, President Obama is kind of late to the party. Pope Francis and I have been writing and speaking about financial inequality in America for some time.

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Growing Gap In Income in America

Growing Gap In Income in America

Growing Gap In Income in America

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In 2000, I was working for an upscale apartment complex as a leasing agent. By mid-2001 I was the ‘Lead Leasing Agent’ for my property (with a 55% closing ration in an industry where 30% is considered ‘better-than-average’), and several times a year I was shipped off to other properties (all over California) to train leasing staff on improving closing techniques. At the 2002 yearly Christmas party I was the talk of the company and seen as Heir Apparent for the next Senior Vice President in charge of residential properties. From August 2002 to August 2003 I was moved from leasing to property management at the Southern California Flagship Property (Lindbrook Manor Apartments) in Westwood, California. Turing this property’s 67% rental rate and 30% resident retention around, I took a property that had lost money for the past decade and made it a paying property by the Corporate Christmas party 2002.

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I was on the Fast Track for success with a Property Management and Realty company that had its corporate office in a Beverly Hills building they owned that house the single largest private collection of Andy Warhol work. Come December 2002 I purchased a brand new Chevy S10 truck, the LS package. I was at the highest, financial, point in my entire life. I was taking the majority of my disposable income and putting it into the company. Here was this Texan boy, from the other side of the tracks from Green Tee Terrace. I had worked hard and come far since my humble beginnings and in High School I was; working a full time job, seven classes a day, and rehearsals every night and weekends.

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Beginning in February of 2003 I experienced shooting pains in my neck (in the area where a Smith Corona Typewriter had struck me in 1987) and down my left arm into my left hand. By March, I was experiencing severe headaches, dizzy periods that landed me unconscious at the foot of a flight of stairs, and a growing lack of use of my left hand and arm. I had saved… actually invested much of my income in a corporation that quickly saw me as no longer a huge engine of fiduciary returns turned potential drag on the company’s health insurance premiums. I have never… really ‘blamed’ the individuals I had grown to respect, for the betrayal I experienced.

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Honestly, My Dear Readers, I have never been in the position I am sure the CEO and COO found themselves. It was evident and well documented that Danny ‘needed surgical intervention’ as soon as possible. I was diagnosed with acute degenerative Disc Disease in the cervical spine with severe radiculopathy and damage to several nerve roots from C-3 to C-5. I took a medical leave of absence. My problem, My Dear Readers, was that I continued to live on the property and I just could not turn my back on the resident of the building I had worked so hard to turn around and improve the quality of life for said residents. In July of 2003 I was terminated for “Insubordination” for “continuing to work…” because I would react to emergencies on the property, rather than just turn my back and walk away from; a 22 year old female resident locked out of her apartment during a neighborhood and campus alert of a repeated attacks by a rapist, I contacted the corporate office when three fire trucks showed up on the property and the Fire Marshal could NOT get into the property because no “knock switch” was available for emergency access (saving, I am told, the corporation a $5,000.00 fine from the City of Los Angeles).

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Was I guilty of acting in an insubordinate fashion, No! Did I involve myself in emergencies on the property when I was in disability leave? YES! Could this all have been avoided if my supervisor had been; more supportive of the interim managers, worked to protect the relationship I had worked 80 hours a week and weekends to nurture a better relationship between the property management and the residents? YES!

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Suddenly, My Dear Readers, I was thrown from a job making $50,000.00 a year to (now) $960 a month.

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I was (quite literally) a ‘Have’ and now I number myself among the ‘Have-Nots’. One thing that does help me sleep at night is knowing that I protected a medical student from a fearful night spent on the steps of my building during a rapist alert in Beverly Hills and Westwood… and that I did what my heart told me to do. Protect the asset (the building) and protect the residents. The only real regret I have is that I could not figure out a way to do the ‘Right Thing’ without the corporate office knowing.

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The point of this tale is to explain to all of you, My Dear Readers, that I have a personal understanding of the division… the financial inequality that plagues my nation of birth, America. I have a personal understanding of just how once can fall from grace, in just a matter of a few months… or years by merely doing what a person believes is right by his/her moral compass.

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“Would you do it all, again?”

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Yes, I would. However, I would be smart and crafty and find a way to protect the residents, the corporation and the building without directly involving myself. I have a good idea, now, how to go about that task… and never get caught. What’s that old saying?

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“If I knew then, what I know now.”?

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Life is too short for regrets, way too short. But, there is a lesson to be learned by all of U.S., in my tale. The division between ‘Having’ and ‘Not Having’ is much smaller… and sharper than anyone thinks. That, all too quickly, one can see their world turned upside down just by being too much of a Boy Scout. Further, if a boy from Texas can work for decades to find himself a few short steps from an Executive Management position for a Beverly Hills Property Management/Real Estate company, to (today) going without food for the past three days… and a breath away from being unable to pay his rent? Then ‘financial inequality’ in America is genuinely real and much worse than the media is leading you to believe… and much worse than most of you, My Dear Readers, can imagine.

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The next part of this article is going to focus on displaying, via charts, graphs and numbers and facts from people in the know and trusted sources. I am going to do my level best to prove ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ that America is plagued with financial inequality and that Pope Francis (and me, to a lesser degree) is correct about America and that good, honest, hardworking, AMERICANS are suffering terribly due to financial inequality.

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I told my story, above, to (perhaps) put a human face on this subject… maybe even a friendly and known face on a terrible inequality within our great nation. Sometimes, we writers forget to put a human or familiar face on our subject matter. As a humanist writer, it is going to be my goal to continually put a human and even a familiar face to the pain and suffering spreading throughout our nation.

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Now, the very first graph I am going to share with you, My Dear Readers, this evening is the one that was the most shocking to me. This graph shows how most Americans think income is divided, how much income is really divided (the reality of the problem), and finally how 92% (of Americans polled) think it SHOULD BE divided. I am pretty informed about the subject of income inequality, and yet I was taken aback by the disparity in income.

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Income Distribution In America - Perception vs. Reality

Income Distribution In America – Perception vs. Reality

(Courtesy of America Blog[1])

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You see when I was working for Domino Realty of Beverly Hills, and especially when I was manager of Lindbrook Manor Apartments, you would have been hard pressed to convince me that income inequality existed. Much less that the division in our great nation was/is as stark and that tens of millions of Americans have been left behind. All too many Americans are grossly misinformed, by either their choice in media sources or by a lack of variety of sources, about the growing inequality. Many are left in this cloud of misinformation stuck in a chamber of the like minded and fooled by cleverly created and brilliantly executed intelligently sounding rhetoric. Executing a ingeniously designed social algorithm that leaves good, honest, God-Loving Americans in the dark about the reality of an exponentially growing number of impoverished Americans.

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Flooded and inundated with the drumbeat of outdated but all too effective rhetoric, a growing number of Americans are putting reason and their own gut-feelings aside to fall prey to the same nation-dividing rhetoric. These honest, hard working, God-Loving Americans a haunted (daily… hourly) by certain media outlet’s drumbeat of tried-and-true rhetoric. “The poor are not poor because they own; HDTVs, Microwaves, Cellular Phones, computers and Air Conditioning.” “Unemployment is a crutch for the poor… those on unemployment sit at home and watch their HDTVs and refuse to work” “Food stamps is just another crutch and another way to get Americans hooked on the ‘crack of the Democrat party’, and there is not ‘War on the Poor’ the real war is against the wealthy.”

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They work their social calculations with accountant-like precision preying on the fears of the (dwindling) ‘Middle Class’ and making even the desire to eat into some drug-like addiction.

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Recent polling by the Pew Research organization has shed light on how political alignment reflected in attitudes towards the poor.

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“Democrats said by a 61% to 24% margin that circumstances beyond one person’s control were primarily to blame for them being poor. Republicans took the opposite view: 57% blamed individuals who were poor for lack of effort compared with 28% who said it was due to circumstances beyond their control.”[2]

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These numbers reflect the effectiveness of the rhetoric algorithm of hyper-partisan media in America. That the repetition of even outdated and non-factual hyperbolic rhetoric can change one’s perception of another (often unknown) class of Americans. As well, that this algorithm is even more effective if the audience does not know impoverished people, personally.

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“On the question of being able to earn enough money on the job, 89% of liberal Democrats and 78% of moderate and conservative Democrats said poor people work but do not earn enough money. But only about half (53%) of moderate and liberal Republicans agreed. Conservative Republicans were evenly divided: 43% said the poor do in fact work but cannot earn enough while 40% said most poor people do not work.”[3]

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Whereas a healthy majority (`80%) of Democrats said the poor work, but often cannot make enough money. Only (roughly) half (53%) of Republicans agreed. When it came to Conservative Republicans they were split at the 40% mark with 40% of Conservative Republicans expressing the belief that “most poor people do not work…” This regardless of the fact that a majority of Americans poor do work.

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A sound majority of Americans see the wealthy as greedy.

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“More than half (55%) saw the rich as more likely to be greedy compared with 9% who said less likely, and 36% who took neither side.”[4]

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Now, there is a big difference, along political party lines, on how the rich are seen. This is not really surprising, however, I think it just more evidence of the social programming going on my conservative media outlets. That more and more conservative media outlets drill rhetoric into the minds of their listeners and allow less and less freethinking.

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“Republicans were more likely to describe the rich as hardworking, by a 55% to 33% margin. About two-thirds (65%) of Democrats saw the rich as greedy compared to 42% of Republicans.”[5]

the U.S. Census Bureau released a revised measure of poverty. It showed the number of poor people in the United States is 3 million higher than the official count.” AND “The census report said the number of poor people in 2012 hit a record 49.7 million, or 16 percent of the U.S. population.”[6]

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Meaning that the real number of Americans gripped by poverty in 2012 was 52.7 million or roughly 16.4% of the U.S population. That was in 2012, the numbers for 2013 are difficult to obtain, this early into 2014. Even @ 16.4% America now stands closer to the 19% poverty rate that the impetus behind the ‘War on Poverty’ started by President Johnson in 1965. Today, America stands on the very brink of moral crushing poverty. Yet, there are those that would have you see; the poor, the hungry, the homeless as “takers” and “lazy”.

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“Poverty is not caused by assistance. It is reduced by it. The census report said food stamps lifted 5 million people out of poverty. If the program weren’t there, the poverty rate would increase from 16 percent to 17.6 percent.”[7]

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Further;

According to statistics presented at a recent U.S. Senate committee hearing, almost one in seven Americans are living below the poverty line with a significant number of them being children.”[8]

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The last statistic I read the number of children living in poverty is 16.4 million.

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“More than 16 million children in the United States – 22% of all children – live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level – $23,550 a year for a family of four. Research shows that, on average, families need an income of about twice that level to cover basic expenses. Using this standard, 45% of children live in low-income families.”[9]

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Forty-Five percent of American children live in low-income families!

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I simply cannot put into words (a rare feat for me) the shock I felt reading that… only slightly outweighing the shock, was the embarrassment I felt.. for America. We are the single wealthiest nation on Earth, and the single wealthiest nation in the history of man. Yet nearly HALF of our CHILDREN live in low-income families.

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“Most of these children have parents who work, but low wages and unstable employment leave their families struggling to make ends meet.”[10]

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These parents are not ‘slackers’. And many of them are not single parents. You see, My Dear Readers, the more you expose yourself to the proven facts and listen less to the calculated rhetoric? The more you see the failures of “Greed is good!” and unbridled capitalism and the more you begin to understand how much harm avarice has done. Done to our children. Children brought up in impoverished homes are far more likely to engage in crime as young adults and adults.

Poverty is no longer most prevalent among people of color, in America.

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“For the first time since 1975, the number of white single-mother households living in poverty with children surpassed or equaled black ones in the past decade, spurred by job losses and faster rates of out-of-wedlock births among whites. White single-mother families in poverty stood at nearly 1.5 million in 2011, comparable to the number for blacks. Hispanic single-mother families in poverty trailed at 1.2 million.”[11]

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“Since 2000, the poverty rate among working-class whites has grown faster than among working-class nonwhites, rising 3 percentage points to 11 percent as the recession took a bigger toll among lower-wage workers. Still, poverty among working-class nonwhites remains higher, at 23 percent.”[12]

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Finally one cannot have a genuine conversation about income inequality in America without addressing the recent economic recovery. Our last President left America with a double digit unemployment rate, a severely damaged financial sector, and our nation on the edge of falling into the next Great Depression. I do not blame President Bush, entirely. He trusted his advisors and I genuinely feel as though these advisors were not giving President Bush sound advice. We Americans knew, in advance, that President Bush was no financial wiz kid. Anyone doing even a modest amount of personal research quickly found out that Bush (prior to being Governor) had been given three companies by his father (the Elder President Bush) and that Bush Jr. had run all three into the financial ground. As I said, America did not elect President Bush (Jr.) for any financial expertise.

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Growing Income Inequality 1979-2007

Growing Income Inequality 1979-2007

 

(Growing Income Inequality 1979-2007)

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President Obama was left with a nation divided, but also a nation on the brink of financial collapse. President Obama was a Constitutional Law Professor. Having said, I think that President Obama just might have a little bit more financial where-with-all than his predecessor… a little bit more. The recovery has been steady, but weak. As well, most of the economic gains have been focused on the top!

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Percent Change in Real Income Since 1948

Percent Change in Real Income Since 1948

(Percent Change in Real Income Since 1948)

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Now, for the final part of this article I would like to focus on the widening gap between the top ten percent and the rest of U.S.

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In 2010 — the first full year since the end of the Great Recessionvirtually all of the income growth in America took place among the country’s very wealthiest people, says an economist at the University of California, Berkeley. The top 1 percent of earners took in a full 93 percent of all the income gains that year, leaving the other 7 percent of gains to be sprinkled among the vast majority of society.”[13]

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Adding injury to insult, while the wealthy top 10% have enjoyed 90% of the economic gains from the recovery the working man has been bit twice.

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“Income for most workers has barely risen in the last 30 years, but the top 1 percent of earners have seen their income almost triple in the same amount of time. Economists and other experts say that could be the result of any number of factors, including the decline of labor unions, the explosion in capital gains during the middle part of the aughts, and tax policies put in place in recent years that favor the wealthy.”[14]

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Wages are stagnant at a fraction of what they were in 1960 (adjusted for inflation) while CEOs and Executives have seen their portion of the company profits grow exponentially. When I was a boy the doctors he worked for made multiples of ten times his wage. Like 10X or 20X = my father made $25,000 a year and they would make $250,000 a year. Now, these same CEOs and Board Members are making HUNDREDS and THOUSANDS times the pay of the lowest paid worker. All the while paying far LESS in taxes than the doctors and CEOs of my father’s time.

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Finally. I want to wrap up this article (not because I have said all I have to say.. or because I am out of things to write. Just because I am in so much pain I can no longer bear it and concentrate.) by making some IMPORTANT clarifications.

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FIRST – I do not think that small business owners… Owners with 5 or 10 or 15 employees should be crippled to help the poor. I do not think that men who are husbands and single bread-winners with college age sons and daughters should bear the brunt of correcting financial inequality. Nor do I think that; Teachers, Police, EMTs, Firemen or ANY professional public servants (workers) should loose pay. We should no more balance the inequality on the backs of the Middle Class than we should have balanced the budget on the backs of the poor!

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America must address the gross financial inequality that plagues our nation. We simply cannot put this off another year! We must end the terribly false and damaging hyperbolic rhetoric that causes the Middle Class to think that the poor are lazy and just want to take and take and take from them (the Middle Class). We must start a campaign of knowledge and inform and educate the victims of these falsehoods and hyperbolic rhetoric. These Americans are victims of mind rape and they deserve to be cured of their disease.

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The wealthy are not ‘Bad People’, however, the greedy are just that greedy. I am not advocating a ‘War on The Wealthy’ or ‘A War on the One Percent’. I am advocating that the people that have gained the most out of our economic recovery should do more for the poor and underprivileged. Quite honestly? I do not think this should come from the government, or from President Obama’s pen.

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However, if the Republican lead Congress refuses action and continues a policy of intransigence? Then the President has no choice. Want to know how I think it should all go down? Here’s how:

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Most every American knows people that are poor… with little or any food… not able to pay rent and have a life. As individuals reach out and HELP! I honestly believe that if every American that can reach out and help someone they know is poor, helps? If they really do it!?! Our economy will turn around. CHARITY!

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Charity, that is how I think it could be done. Honestly, My Dear Readers, a little charity by some of… you… could turn their life around! I cannot help but think that, on a larger scale, it would work for our nation.

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If this is done by the government? People WILL resent it. If it is done by the States? People will resent it. If it is done buy the Churches? People will resent it.

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Reach out, today, and help someone you know is struggling with feeding himself and his loved ones. Reach out and help someone you know that is struggling to pay his rent.. and do more than just breath and sleep. Reach out and help another human being to live a little.

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If you DO? I PROMISE you WILL feel better .Also, I PROMISE the person y9ou HELP? WILL make you feel like you have changed their lives FOR THE BETTER! Trust your heart, and reach out and help someone… today.

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As always I am deeply honored that you come here and read my work.

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Thank YOU!

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The Other Shoe eBay Store

The Other Shoe eBay Store

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Just a shot of a VERY thankful Danny in His Power Chair

Just a shot of a VERY thankful Danny in His Power Chair

 

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About Daniel Hanning
I am a; writer, editor and publisher. I write, most often, articles about our space program, fun videos andpolitical works. My most recent additions are; A Week In Review, Sunday Funnies and The Adventures of Nadia. Along with The Mars Report and Lost in Space. ENJOY!

One Response to Growing Financial Inequality in 2014

  1. Pingback: A Week in Review – February 1, 2014 | The Other Shoe

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