by Dave Corsi
Welcome to the inaugural column of “The Lowdown” at Students for a Better Future. This column will examine subjects in the political, economic and historical spheres.
Today’s column is about the issue of Income Inequality. Countless articles and politicians bemoan the “rich getting richer” and the “growing gap between rich and poor”; between the haves and the have-nots. Unless of course it is the politicians and their associates who are getting richer. A closer examination shows that the real story is not as insidious as those headlines and their authors’ conclusions.
These authors do not take into account income mobility. Income mobility is simply people moving through various income levels at different stages of their lives. Just because one may start at the lower end of the income spectrum (namely nearly every person who has ever worked) that doesn’t mean he or she will end up in the same income bracket.
My first job was cleaning a fast food restaurant in the morning and cleaning tables during the lunch hours. I earned $1.00 per day for my efforts (in the late 1960’s). As you can imagine, $1.00 a day (I was approximately 10-11 years old) put me in the lower income bracket. According to the Business Almanac, the United States the per capita income (the annual average income per person) circa the late 1960’s was approximately $2,775. I might not have hit my teenage years but according to the statisticians I was poor.
On the other end of the spectrum are the people who make up the annual Forbes 400 list of richest Americans. Since its inception in 1982 the turnover rate has been over 95%. So much for only “the rich getting richer.” Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey and even Warren Buffet were nowhere near making the list when it started. Nowadays a student can go from his college dorm room to billionaire via an IPO offering in the blink of an eye. Just ask Mark Zuckerberg.
Another example of the foolishness of many of the statistical analyses is the fact that low income may not be an indication of a person’s wealth. Let us use Bill Gates as an example. Assume that Bill does not take a salary in 2015 and none of his stock holdings are sold or dividends are paid. Bill’s income of zero may cause him to be included in the poor category of some of the statistical models being used. And yet he is the richest person in America at approximately $80 billion dollars!
Which brings us to the rhetoric of today’s politician. Many of today’s “public servants” love to point to the widening gap and advocate the redistribution of wealth and income. There is nothing that is more despicable than the hypocrisy of double standards. And nowhere are these attributes more obvious than in politicians. (Hollywood actors run a close second).
The rising star of the Democratic Party is Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Senator Warren and her supporters have used economic inequality and elitist privilege as their battle cry. However, she does not practice what she preaches. Senator Warren earned over $700,000 during a 2-year span (2010-2011) as a part-time college professor. At the same time she earned approximately $165,000 as an advisor to President Obama, and nearly $44,000 as a consultant to the Travelers Insurance Company. In spite of this, there are no reports of Professor Warren redistributing her salary and earnings to others less fortunate than she. Furthermore, Senator Warren landed her lucrative college gig by claiming to be of Native American descent. Yet when challenged to provide proof of her Native American ancestry, the Senator could not provide any documented proof. Talk about elitist privilege and hypocrisy!
Ditto for other economic warfare warriors such as Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barack and Michelle Obama, Al Gore, Warren Buffet and Nancy Pelosi just to name a few. They are all extremely wealthy and have called for income and wealth redistribution but have steadfastly refused to redistribute their own. Does anybody seriously believe that once they leave the White House, President and Mrs. Obama will not look to earn big bucks from speaking fees, royalties, and sitting on corporate boards? Sure they will set up the requisite “charitable foundation trust” but this is nothing more than a tax evasion scheme.
Just ask the former President and his wife, the former Secretary of State; they know all about tax avoidance foundations which allow one to travel and live very nice lifestyles without paying taxes. Furthermore, Bill and Hillary Clinton have earned over $100 million since leaving the White House. Nevertheless they continue to hit up (or is it coerce?) friends and associates for “charitable donations” to their foundation so they get the credit for “helping the disadvantaged” when said foundation expends funds, but they are using the money and goodwill of other people. Their personal wealth remains untouched.
It is interesting to watch Senator Warren be coy with the media and her fellow Democrats regarding her presidential ambitions. She knows she has to wait for the former secretary to decide what she is going to do. She cannot upstage “the smartest woman in America”. Therefore, she bides her time and proclaims her support for Hillary Clinton. Deep down one suspects Senator Warren believes she is former Secretary Clinton’s superior; much like candidate Obama who while appearing to be deferential, came to rout Mrs. Clinton in the primaries. Of course, Mr. Obama had help from former President Clinton as he had no desire for his wife to become President.
Mrs. Clinton will wait as long as she can to see which way the wind is blowing. If she does not see a clear path to her coronation, she will decide not to run due to “health reasons”. Her departure will leave the opening for Senator Warren. In this way the former secretary can be remembered as “the woman who could have been the first female president”, but for a terrible, evil twist of fate, conveniently out of her control: Her personal health circumstances precluding her from reaching her destiny. Thus viewed, in such sympathetic light, she will then be venerated as “the pioneering woman who led the way”. She can be openly adulated as “the one who gave of herself”, to open the doors for all women: today’s Elizabeth Warren’s and all those that follow.