I am always living up to the last minute until the check comes
Something is Monumentally Wrong with Our Economy
The agony of being backed into a corner every month is an assault on my nerves.
My bride and I sold our home last June. We are both 69 and have been married since we were 21. We were married in 1971. 48 YEARS!
Oh my! Time sure has flown by.
Maybe we live life in chunks?
In retrospect, that seems such a short time ago. The last few years seem like an eternity though.
Maybe there is time compression?
There are lots to be thankful for though. We found a two-bedroom apartment that I don’t have to walk upstairs to get to.
We didn’t have to give up our two Ragdoll cats, Mango and Lacey. Mango is a flame point and Lacey is a Chocolate point.
Berkey was the biggest worry. If we would not have been able to keep her I don’t know what my bride nor I would do.
When I was able to walk like a normal person she was rarely 5 feet from my side. She is a Certified Companion dog also.
My bride got a few plaques to keep me company in my office my favorite is this one:
I am working on blog posts about growing roses. I did that for over twenty years in our small yard in Proctor MN.
What brought this topic up, I had finished writing a blog post and I was going to pay bills. Silly me! Checks don’t come until next week. Dang!
Let me put things in perspective if it is OK with you.
Two years after we exited the United States Army (I was drafted in 1971. Yes, I received my draft notice the day we returned from our honeymoon!)
Income at the time, in the US, is displayed in the information below.
Income is the average salary in these years:
No, I don’t mind your asking. No, I was not making anywhere near the level of income listed here. I had the misfortune of changing careers three times since I left the Army. It was my own choosing but I never anticipated such a dramatic shift in income.
The American Middle-Class has been Decimated
What do you have to earn to be middle-class? Great question but it is different for every state and probably for select areas within a state.
Since I’m from Minnesota I will start there for a quick comparison. In 2015 the median household income was $60,792.
For the Minnesota middle-class, the lower boundary was $40,468 and the upper boundary was $121,404. (Minnesota is tenth highest on the list by the way.)
For comparison, Mississippi was $37,963 for median income. The lower boundary of the middle-class was $25, 309 and the upper $75,926.
It is hard to speak in generalities of any kind. However, I will attempt it.
In 2014 The New York Times (sorry the link to that page is no longer active) stated that comparing the 20th percentile, Americans in 2014 earned less than Norwegians, Canadians, Dutch, Germans, Swedes, and Finlanders, (comparing those in each countries’ respective 20th percentile).
For comparison, three decades earlier Americans earned more than anyone except Canadians.
Income Inequality is a Conversation Starter
Let us start with a smart man (and a wealthy one- one of the three richest men in America). An aside: People with a net worth of more than $1 million represent just 0.7% of the world’s population but they have 41% of the wealth. (Again the original page is no longer there.)
In the U.S. three men Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Jeff Bezos combined hold more wealth than 50% of the population or 160 million people.
The alarming note is that 63 million people, one-fifth of the population have a zero or even negative net worth.
Income inequality is not just a financial issue.
A United Nations official, Amina Mohammed notes: Income equality is a major problem because it also encompasses “poverty, environmental degradation, persistent unemployment, political instability, violence, and conflict.”
This is not a new issue.
It is safe to say, the economy we have in the world today is not working for humanity.
“It will take 100 years for the world’s poorest people to earn $1.25 a day.”
Do you think the world will stand still for this?
The three richest men in America held a combined wealth of $248.5 BILLION in mid-September 2017.
As of April 8, 2018, the “new estimated figure stands at $263 BILLION thanks largely to Jeff Bezos of Amazon.”
That is STAGGERING! A 5.5% increase IN LESS THAN ONE YEAR!!
Is it going to be business as usual?
“Since 1980 the global economy has grown 380%.”
“But the number of people living in poverty (on less than $5 per day)has increased by more than 1.1 BILLION that’s 17 times the population of Britain.”
Please prove to me the trickle-down theory works.
There is a standardized unit that measures resource and waster. It is called a “global hectare.”
“ Our planet only has enough resources for each of us to consume 1.8 global hectares.”
The average person in Ghana or Guatemala consumes approximately 1.8 global hectares.
By contrast, people in the US and Canada consume about 8 hectares per person, while Europeans consume 4.7 hectares.”
Maybe that can be called gluttony — one of the seven deadly sins.
Poor countries? They are never going to catch up!
If something does change how can we measure if progress is being made?
Life expectancy in the United States is 78.4 years.
In Cuba, it is 79.1!
The Gross Domestic Product per capita of Cuba is $6,000. Each person consumes 1.9 global hectares.
To really rub the insult in:
Literary rates throughout the world. (Wikipedia)
The United States of America is 86% at best. (World Atlas)
The richest country in the world consumes the most resources and is almost dead last in measurable levels of sustainability. The level of sustainability is what I call the way we function in society. The actions we take is our way to happiness and well-being.
Our actions show us to be GLUTTONS on the world stage.
It is not acceptable.
Have we earned the right to be such hoarders?
Can we justify ourselves to the rest of the world?
Many, if not most, of the countries, measure better than we do in things that make for truly civilized societies!
We should not look at other countries as deprived or third world or underdeveloped.
We should look at countries in the top tier of usage of global hectares as overdeveloped.
We should have to justify our existence, or at least our gluttonous ways to the rest of the world.
Warren Buffett states emphatically that the rich should not just dine at their table but share their riches with everyone.
They cannot justify hoarding their wealth! What are they going to do with it anyway?
I have seen Facebook posts emphasizing that when people were my age (69) were growing up new schools were built and the Interstate Highway System was built.
There was not a teetering pyramid of uber-wealthy at the top.
Now? We cannot even MAINTAIN our highways and byways. Our bridges. Our everything!
So, we’ve looked at INCOME INEQUALITY. This inequality exists not just in the United States. It is a dysfunction that encompasses the whole globe.
So, we’ve defined INCOME INEQUALITY. It is not just an economic issue but a global issue of sustenance health, education, housing, jobs. People need a sense of self-worth to survive in this world.
So, we’ve defined INCOME INEQUALITY as gluttony by a very few people around the world but especially in the United States where we use 8.7 global hectares of the world’s resources as compare to Ghana, Guatemala, Nicaragua just to site a few examples.
Can we really justify our gluttony when we can’t even compare to many countries of the world on life expectancy or even literacy?
Which country is the underdeveloped one? Or do we have an underdeveloped ethos of what is proper and just?
How dare we look down on other countries? How can we justify gluttony — the third of the seven deadly sins?
The United States has outstripped and cast off our moral compass in its capacity to keep our growth on an equitable path. We don’t enrich everyone so that all Americans can live with a degree of self-worth and prosperity.
Perhaps we do indeed need to de-develop our sense if those “things” we need to feel self-fulfilled without gobbling up far more than our share of the world’s resources.
Perhaps I don’t need to feel overwhelmed at the prospect for our future. I have the lack of longevity on my side.
Thanks for stopping.