Robert Borosage has a good column on Huffington Post today with useful facts about CEO pay and middle class wage stagnation (tied to declining union density) as the major causes of widening inequality. He makes reference to another piece by Harold Meyerson, who quotes recent studies by Emmual Saez (on how the richest Americans are recovering from the Great Recession) and the Center for American Progress (on the link between union membership and middle class status).
Here’s a few excerpts and the links:
Robert Borosage, “The 1% Stike Back”
“In 2010, as the economy began its slow recovery from the Great Recession, a new study shows the richest 1% of Americans captured a staggering 93% of all income growth, while the incomes of most Americans stagnated. 93%. Occupy that. The 1% are back.”
Harold Meyerson, “The Rich are Different, the Get Richer”
“While never putting a premium on economic equality, America has always prided itself on being the preeminent land of economic opportunity. If all of this nation’s wealth is captured by a narrow stratum of the very rich, however, that claim is relegated to history’s dustbin.”
Emmanual Saez, “Striking it Richer: The Evolution of Top Incomes in the United States”
“[B]ased on the US historical record, falls in income concentration due to economic downturns are temporary unless drastic regulation and tax policy changes are implemented and prevent income concentration from bouncing back. Such policy changes took place after the Great Depression during the New Deal and permanently reduced income concentration until the 1970s. In contrast, recent downturns, such as the 2001 recession, lead to only very temporary drops in income concentration.”
David Madland and Nick Bunker, Center for American Progress, “Unions Make Democracy Work for the Middle Class”
“As our research and a number of academic studies find,2 unions strengthen the middle class and significantly reduce economic inequality. In fact studies indicate that the decline in union density explains as much of today’s record level of inequality as does the increasing economic return of a college education.
Most research on the importance of unions to the middle class tends to focus on how unions improve market wages for both union and nonunion workers.4 This research is no doubt vital, but it gives short shrift to the critical role unions play in making democracy work for the middle class.
Unions help boost political participation among ordinary citizens—especially among members, but also among nonunion members.”
And by the way, the “neo-plutocracy” quote comes from Harold Meyerson.