By February 4, 2015 0 Comments Read More →

The One-Percenters Are Killing The Rest of Us

Policies of the 1% are killing everyone else.

Policies of the 1% are killing everyone else.

 

That saying “The rich get richer and the poor get poorer” is as true today as it ever was. Statistics show that in 1980 about 8% of U.S. income was shared by the top 1% of the earning population – the “one percenters” – and 18% of U.S. income was shared by the lowest 50% of earners. Today, the one percenters share about 20% of the income and the lowest 50% shares just 12%. In 2004 there were 313 American billionaires; in 2013 there were 492. In 2003, 2 million workers earned at or below the minimum wage; in 2013 that number had risen to 3.3 million.

Here is another saying that merits attention: “The One Percenters are killing the rest of us.” The Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council recently reported that U.S life expectancy and health status have fallen ever further behind that of peer nations over the last forty years. The report terms the U.S. comparative status as “U.S. Health Disadvantage”. In explaining how this situation came to be the report states that deeply ingrained social problems, income inequality being key among them, erode health and shorten life.

In comparing developed nations, evidence shows that among them the healthiest and happiest societies are those with more equal distribution of wealth and income. Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett in their book “The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger” state that economic inequality heightens people’s anxiety by increasing the importance of social status. A stressed person has large amounts of stress chemicals to fight danger but when the amount of these chemicals is high most of the time they slowly poison the body: elevating blood pressure, weakening the immune system, etc.

A team of public health professionals at Columbia University, writing in the Journal of Health, asked President Obama to take action to combat the country’s poor and deteriorating health. They think the only real solution must come from the top. President Obama has proposed several economic measures: raise capital gains taxes and dividend rates, reform inheritance taxes, impose fees on liabilities of large financial firms making it harder for them to borrow heavily, to name a few. However, in a legislature controlled by the Republican Party that tends to identify itself primarily with capital rather than labor, the outlook for passage of the President’s redistributive measures is grim.

Meanwhile, the one percenters are killing the rest of us.

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