Third World America?

Leo Kolivakis's picture

Via Pension Pulse.

Arianna
Huffington was interviewed on Tech Ticker on Wednesday discussing America's
shrinking middle class
:

In a Wall
Street Journal op-ed
today, former “Car Czar” Steve Rattner, a
multi-millionaire from decades as an investment banker, says Wall Street
is ignorant to the dangers of America’s growing wealth disparity.

Rattner
rattles off some shocking stats in the piece:

  • -- “Incomes
    of the average American worker (after adjustment for inflation) was
    lower in 2008 (let alone 2009) than it was in 1999.”
  • --
    "30,000 Americans command a full 6% of income in this country (a higher
    percentage than at even the end of the Roaring '20s)"

Tech
Ticker discussed the growing income divide with Arianna Huffington,
co-founder and editor in chief of The Huffington Post.

 

“We
are in danger of becoming an America with a rich and the poor,"
Huffington tells Aaron in this clip, taped at Tuesday’s CM Summit in New York City. "And at the
heart of America has always been a middle class,” the erosion of which
threatens to upset our democracy, she says.

 

At the heart of the problem is high unemployment. The broadest
measure of unemployment (U6) stands at 16.6% and a record 46% of
America's unemployed have been out of work 6 months or longer.

 

Because
of that “the American dream has been reduced to luck… and the odds
right now are against people,” notes Huffington, author
of several books
, including the forthcoming "Third World America".

 

But we are not hopeless or helpless, she
says: “There’s a lot we can do both at the government level and at the
individual level.”

 

In an update on the old "think global, act
local" campaign of the greens, Huffington promotes getting involved in
local causes, be it working in a food kitchen, unemployed white collar
workers volunteering their skills, or trying to start a business.

But
income inequality isn't just an American problem, it's pretty much a
global problem. Nowhere is poverty growing more rapidly than among
elderly population, and the problem is getting worse. Consider this:

As you listen to the interview below, you get a sense that
we're heading down the wrong path. When foreclosure lawyers are busier
than manufacturers, it's the sign of a sick economy. And while
fundamentals are improving, serious long-term structural issues remain.
Pension poverty is one of the issues that far too many will struggle
with. Wonder if it will be discussed at the G-20 (don't hold your
breath).