Tuesday, July 18, 2017

US Inequality Crisis Worst in Industrialized World. Trump Will Make It Worse.

The redistribution of wealth upward into the pockets of fewer and fewer ultra wealthy, and at the peril of the rest of us and the planet, must be stopped. Another world is possible. - Molly

If the policies favored by the Trump administration—including massive tax cuts for the rich and reductions in spending on Medicaid and education—go into effect, the U.S. will only fall further in the global rankings

The United States is already the most unequal industrialized nation in the world, and a new report published on Monday shows that President Donald Trump's agenda would only make matters worse.

"The Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index," developed by Oxfam in partnership with Development Finance International (DFI), uses several factors to "measure the commitment of governments to reducing the gap between the rich and the poor."

Compared to other wealthy nations, the report concludes, the U.S. is doing "very badly" in the fight against income and wealth inequality.

"The CRI Index measures government efforts in three policy areas or 'pillars': social spending, taxation, and labor," the authors—Oxfam's Max Lawson and DFI's Matthew Martin—note. "These were selected because of widespread evidence that strong positive progressive actions by governments in these three areas have played a key part in reducing the gap between rich and poor."

Lawson and Martin continue:
Many countries across the world, rich and poor, have experienced a rapid growth in the gap between the richest people in society and everyone else over the past 30 years. This inequality crisis is characterized by a situation whereby just eight men own the same wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion people. Failure to tackle this growing crisis is undermining social and economic progress and, crucially, the fight against poverty. Oxfam's research has shown that, since the turn of the century, the poorest half of the world's population has received just 1% of the total increase in global wealth, while the top 1% received 50% of the increase.
In the face of these startling numbers, Oxfam and DFI compiled data and ranked countries by how aggressively they are attempting to address these stark disparities. The U.S., the report notes, is not moving with much urgency.
"The USA is the wealthiest country in the history of the world, but its level of inequality is also the highest among major industrial countries, leaving tens of millions of working people impoverished—especially women and people of color," Lawson and Martin observe.

The report highlights several measures that serve to perpetuate inequities within the U.S., including:
  • A low effective corporate tax rate, which is due to many large companies not paying taxes at all. The authors point to 2012, when just over 42 percent of corporations paid no federal income taxes at all.
  • Poor health outcomes, despite spending more than other wealthy countries on healthcare.
  • Low federal minimum wage and "extremely inadequate" labor policies, which only require companies to offer unpaid maternity leave.
  • The "alarming" decline of unions, which have historically been a key factor in reducing inequality.
Overall, the U.S. ranks 23rd out of 152 countries. Sweden, due to its progressive social spending and robust protections for women in the workplace, ranks first.


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