Luxury retailers are smiling. So are the owners of high-end restaurants, sellers of upscale cars, vacation planners, financial advisors, and personal coaches. For them and their customers and clients the recession is over. The recovery is now full speed.
But the rest of America isn’t enjoying an economic recovery. It’s still sick. Many Americans remain in critical condition.
The Commerce Department reported Thursday that the economy grew at a 3 percent annual rate last quarter (far better than the measly 1.8 percent third quarter growth). Personal income also jumped. Americans raked in over $13 trillion, $3.3 billion more than previously thought.
Yet it’s almost a certainly that all the gains went to the top 10 percent, and the lion’s share to the top 1 percent. Over a third of the gains went to 15,600 super-rich households in the top one-tenth of one percent.
We don’t know this for sure because all the data aren’t in for 2011. But this is what happened in 2010, the most recent year for which we have reliable data, and there’s no reason to believe the trajectory changed in 2011 or that it will change this year.
In fact, recoveries are becoming more and more lopsided.
The top 1 percent got 45 percent of Clinton-era economic growth, and 65 percent of the economic growth during the Bush era.
According to an analysis of tax returns by Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Pikkety, the top 1 percent pocketed 93 percent of the gains in 2010. 37 percent of the gains went to the top one-tenth of one percent. No one below the richest 10 percent saw any gain at all.
In fact, most of the bottom 90 percent have lost ground. Their average adjusted gross income was $29,840 in 2010. That’s down $127 from 2009, and down $4,843 from 2000 (all adjusted for inflation).
Meanwhile, employer-provided benefits continue to decline among the bottom 90 percent, according to the Commerce Department. The share of people with health insurance from their employers dropped from 59.8 percent in 2007 to 55.3 percent in 2010. And the share of private-sector workers with retirement plans dropped from 42 percent in 2007 to 39.5 percent in 2010.
If you’re among the richest 10 percent, a big chunk of your savings are in the stock market where you’ve had nice gains over the last two years. The value of financial assets held by Americans surged by $1.46 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2011.
But if you’re in the bottom 90 percent, you own few if any shares of stock. Your biggest asset is your home. Home prices are down over a third from their 2006 peak, and they’re still dropping. The median house price in February was 6.2 percent lower than a year ago.
Official Washington doesn’t want to talk about this lopsided recovery. The Obama administration is touting the recovery, period, without mentioning how narrow it is.
Republicans would rather not talk about widening inequality to begin with. The reverse-Robin Hood budget plan just announced by Paul Ryan and House Republicans (and endorsed by Mitt Romney) would make the lopsidedness far worse – dramatically cutting taxes on the rich and slashing public services everyone else depends on.
Fed Chief Ben Bernanke – who doesn’t have to face voters on Election Day – says the U.S. economy needs to grow faster if it’s to produce enough jobs to bring down unemployment. But he leaves out the critical point.
We can’t possibly grow faster if the vast majority of Americans, who are still losing ground, don’t have the money to buy more of the things American workers produce. There’s no way spending by the richest 10 percent – the only ones gaining ground – will be enough to get the economy out of first gear.
No to spectacle. No to virtuosity. No to transformations and magic and make-believe. No to the glamour and transcendency of the star image. No to the heroic. No to the anti-heroic. No to trash imagery. No to involvement of performer or spectator, No to style. No to camp. No to seduction of spectator by the wiles of the performer. No to eccentricity. No to moving or being moved.
It is Not About Race because It Is Never About Race. Race is the past. Black people can vote. One of them is president. Nothing Is About Race anymore. Just ask Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum — and have I mentioned recently what a colossal dick that guy is? — and they’ll tell you that the president “injected” race into the tragedy. It wasn’t there before the president — who is (shhh!) black, you know — put it there. Ask Joe Oliver, this “friend” of the gunman who insists that Zimmerman might have said “fucking goons” and not “fucking coons,” because the latter is an obsolete racial slur and the former is a “term of endearment,” according to Oliver’s daughter. This is enormously believable because, if you’re an armed 28-year old gunslinger in pursuit of what you believe is a dangerous burglar, the first descriptive that would leap to anyone’s mind is a term of endearment used by high-school girls. Yeah, sure. Whatever. As <em>if</em>. And it is enormously believable because This Is Not About Race. It Is Never About Race. All those people arguing down through the years that the Civil War was about dueling conceptions of nationhood, or a clash of incompatible economic systems, or the ramifications of the 10th Amendment were all arguing, after all, that It Was Not About Race. Massive Resistance in the South in the 1960’s was about resistance to overweening federal power because It Was Not About Race. The Wallace campaigns, and the politically profitable adoption by modern conservatism of the leftover tropes and trappings of American apartheid was about the embattled white middle-class in the North and not About Race because It Is Never About Race. Ronald Reagan kicked off his campaign talking about states rights in Philadelphia, Mississippi, not far from where they dug three civil rights workers out of a dam, because he wanted to show that a new paradigm had been established in American constitutional history, and it was not About Race because It Is Never About Race. Amadou Diallo was Not About Race. According to the Equal Justice Initiative, which tracks such things, dozens of children are currently serving sentences of life without parole, of whom two-thirds of them are children of color, as a result of laws passed by legislators wanting to look tough on crime, and those statistics are not skewed because of race because It Is Never About Race. George Zimmerman saw a black kid with a hoodie and gave chase with his gun in his hand. But that was not about race, because Joe Oliver and the Sanford police and the oh-so-very fair-minded media are telling us, hell, don’t worry, It Is Never About Race.
“Our bodies are occupied territories. Perhaps the ultimate goal of performance, especially if you are a woman, gay or a person “of color,” is to decolonize our bodies; and make these decolonizing mechanisms apparent to our audience in the hope that they will get inspired to do the same with their own.”
"For the entirety of American history—from the first African captured and enslaved to the moment Geraldo Rivera opened his mouth to pimp Martin’s death for ratings—black men have been relentlessly caricatured as menaces to society. We were dangerous, so chattel slavery was necessary, and a nation’s wealth was born. We are still dangerous, so a police state is necessary in black neighborhoods all over this country, and the wealth of a prison-industrial complex flourishes. This is what Trayvon Martin’s murder is about. It’s not about his high school suspension. It’s not about his hoodie. It’s not even about Florida’s Kill at Will law, at least not at root. It’s about the enduring, dark fantasies to which America still clings, in order to justify a society in which more black men are locked up or on parole today than were enslaved in 1850—to pick just one of many indicators of the scale at which black men are battered. But we’re menaces; we’ve got it coming."
I am not in denial. I am only a human being floating in this whirlwind of a disaster aptly labeled “life”. Silly me, I used to think I held some semblance of control. We have no control. So won’t you free fall—I’m falling freely even if that means you won’t catch me. Life will catch the both of us, hopefully.
”I will never say that progress is being made if you stick a knife in my back nine inches and pull it out six inches… there’s no progress. If you pull it all the way out, that’s not progress. Progress is healing the wound that the blow made, and they haven’t even begun to try to pull the knife out. They won’t even admit the knife is there.”
We live in a patriarchal society in which only men are allowed sexual freedom, and when they indulge in it, they are praised. Meanwhile, women are shamed for it. It comes from fear. You see, it goes all the way back to the Eve-Apple complex. Women—religiously—are blamed for the Fall of Mankind from Grace for giving into temptation, and as such, that mode of thinking has followed us through the ages. Women are routinely cited as one of the few things that can bring a man down.
Yet when they want sex, we’re shamed for giving it, or shamed for withholding it. The mind of the misogynist presents a dangerous cocktail of lust and hatred, and it’s that dichotomy that is currently keeping women oppressed today.
Who do you think came up with the derogatory names women are called? I doubt it was other women.
“I can only imagine what these parents are going through. And when I think about this boy, I think about my own kids. […] You know, if I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon. And, you know, I think they are right to expect that all of us, as Americans, are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves and that we’re going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened.” — Barack Obama
“People of color, women, and gays — who now have greater access to the centers of influence that ever before — are under pressure to be well-behaved when talking about their struggles. There is an expectation that we can talk about sins but no one must be identified as a sinner: newspapers love to describe words or deeds as “racially charged” even in those cases when it would be more honest to say “racist”; we agree that there is rampant misogyny, but misogynists are nowhere to be found; homophobia is a problem but no one is homophobic. One cumulative effect of this policed language is that when someone dares to point out something as obvious as white privilege, it is seen as unduly provocative. Marginalized voices in America have fewer and fewer avenues to speak plainly about what they suffer; the effect of this enforced civility is that those voices are falsified or blocked entirely from the discourse.”
"If you’re an Indian woman— warning, I’m about to make a massive generalization— if you’re not wearing at least two items of gold jewelry at a time, then my assumption is you were adopted by white Americans."
What has ultimately enabled you to think for yourself in life? Above parenting, many say that both age and experience have allowed them to evolve and move past the restrictive classic conditioning that educational systems impose upon students. This not only derails children from reaching their full potential, but it scars critical thought processing tied to social and emotional intelligence. Only through deprogramming future generations from the classical educational model, will children be empowered by building behavioral, social and emotional skills at levels which will contribute to their success in all areas of life.
IQ only accounts for about 20% of a persons success. By far the majority of a person’s success is attributable to social, emotional intelligence and the ability to foster hope. Trumping general intelligence, previous academic achievement and personality, hope “uniquely predicts objective academic achievement,” showed a three-year longitudinal study out of the University of Manchester.
Education is not just the means of making you a degree holder; it is the gateway to the art of living. Education enables you to think, to discover the principles of life, and to correctly evaluate your experiences. Education gives you the ability to know the difference between the achievable and the unachievable. If you are an educated person in this sense, you will certainly discover the value of the habit of forgetting and that the past is irrelevant.
Education is something that has a formative effect on the mind allowing you to grow and develop. We must learn to not dwell on the negative experiences many of us acquire from our conventional educational system and surpass these events to make room for true unconditional growth. This is education.
Last fall, a brilliant comment from an elementary school student hit home just as facilitators were gathering opinions and impressions about education. Commenting on what she thought about education and how it could be modified to teach children better, 11 year-old Julia Williams from a Grade 6 class said:
“I don’t like school because they take everything I’m good at and tell me I can’t do it anymore. I just want to once be able to do the things I’m good at like drawing and writing stories. I want to do it all day because I can think better than when I do stuff like math. Shouldn’t I be able to really like or even love what I do when I come here. They should help kids do what they know how to do best and I think the rest…I mean all the other subjects will just work out, and if they don’t, well…then they’re just not that important.”
“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”—Frederick Douglass
There is obviously a clear idea that oppression in one area does not negate privilege in another.
Sometimes I’m not so sure of that.
It may not always be sustainable….but it’s present.