There really is no other way to start addressing the economic woes and catastophes that are effecting most Americans these days, plights that the mainstream media rarely addresses at all and never in a coherent, connected and in-depth manner. As a matter of fact, if you watch TV and look around at the endless images of wealth and rampant consumerism on display everywhere and even if you watch the news and read the front pages and business sections of just about any newspaper you will get the impression that ours is a strong, healthy economy and that most Americans are doing just fine and are happy. A little overworked and stressed out with the pace of modern life maybe, but happy, healthy, and sane nevertheless.
The occasional economic or social problem potentially facing the average American is presented by the media and the corporate and political elites as little more than an unfortunate side effect of an overall healthy system. This is a lie. Whether a conscious one of the part of particular journalists who know what is happening but won't write about it or an unconscious one because these journalists know on some level that they couldn't get their story published or aired in most mainstream news outlets even if they did. The assertion or assumption that there is nothing seriously wrong with the structure of our economy and our society is a lie that is spoonfed to Americans in the purposefully skewed debates and news stories and in the morass of issues left unexplored. Of course, there are exceptions but they are few enough to go unnoticed. Meanwhile the devastating facts and the realities pile up while the happy lie continues to get printed and spewed out of the mouths of TV pundits as a result of the editorial or managerial processes and decisions that utlimately determine what gets reported, in what outlets and by whom in the increasingly consolidated American corporate media.
The lie is so insistently and so repeatedly told that if the average person didn't hear the same familiar refrain from friends, family, and acquaintances of endless debt, inadequate pay, and the ever rising cost of living, he or she would believe that the particular circumstances in his or her life sufficiently account for the economic problems of his or her situation. This person would thus believe without question that his or her circumstances are the result of a few years of consistent and unrelenting bad luck, some kind of crisis, a pathological habit of making bad choices or some combination thereof. And if, in an attempt to understand what's going on, this person could not find a satisfactory explanation among these reasons and justifications, he or she would make up reasons and explanations if only for the simple, human psychological imperative of needing a reason why, needing to understand and just needing a fucking explanation. In most cases, this too would be a lie. But this person would succeed in convincing him or herself that this is just the way things are and have always been and that nothing ever changes. This too is a lie and so on it goes.
Behind all the lies, however, the facts and realities keep piling up and if you stop listening to and repeating the lie, these facts can start to help you understand what's really going on. The gap between what we see on TV, on the news, and in the constant bombardment of corporate propoganda desguised as advertising and what we here from elites in the business community and their paid for political hacks in the government on the one hand, and the facts, statistics, and realities that we and those around us experience daily on the other, is where we can start to understand the real explanation, the real reasons why we're all fucked. What follows is a long list of statistics and pesky facts, offered with little or no comment becuase for most of us it only confirms what we already know through experience:
- figures show that from 2003 to 2004, the latest year for which there is data, the richest Americans pulled far ahead of everyone else. In the space of that one year, real average income for the top 1 percent of households - those making more than $315,000 in 2004 - grew by nearly 17 percent. For the remaining 99 percent, the average gain was less than 3 percent
- In all, the top 1 percent of households enjoyed 36 percent of all income gains in 2004, on top of an already stunning 30 percent in 2003.
- In 2003, the latest year for which figures are available, the top 1 percent of households owned 57.5 percent of corporate wealth, generally dividends and capital gains, up from 53.4 percent a year earlier.
- [as of 2004] The top 10 percent of households had 46 percent of the nation's income, their biggest share in all but two of the last 70 years.
- [as of 2004] The top 1 percent held a bigger share of total income than at any time since 1929, except for 1999 and 2000 during the tech stock bubble.
- for most American households - the bottom 60 percent - average income grew by less than 20 percent from 1979 to 2004, with virtually all of those gains occurring from the mid- to late 1990's. Before and since, real incomes for that group have basically flatlined.
- the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans accounted for 33.4 percent of total net worth in 2004, compared to 30.1 percent in 1989. Over the same period, the other Americans in the top 10 percent saw their share of the nation's net worth basically stagnate, at about 36 percent
- the bottom 50 percent accounted for just 2.5 percent of the wealth in 2004, compared to 3.0 percent in 1989.
- In 2006, the average tax cut for households with incomes of more than $1 million - the top two-tenths of 1 percent - is $112,000 which works out to a boost of 5.7 percent in after tax income
- [the average tax cut for ] the middle fifth of households [was a] 2.5 percent increase [and that] of the poorest fifth of households [was a] 0.3 percent gain.
- Earlier this year, President Bush signed into law a measure that will cut $39 billion over the next five years from domestic programs like Medicaid and food stamps, and $99.3 billion from 2006 to 2015.
- the Bush administration's own Economic Report of the President in 2006 shows that average annual earnings of college graduates fell by 5 percent from 2000 to 2004. In those four years, the difference between the average yearly pay of a college graduate and a high school graduate shrank from 93 percent to 80 percent.