Caption: Goat union leaders urge militant direct action to counter the growing divide between the rich and everyone else. "We say jump over the fence and eat their shrubs! And don't forget the tree bark!"
It will probably come as a surprise to no one that inequality has grown in recent years. According to Teresa Trich, however, writing for the New York Times,
there is a new twist to the familiar plot. Income inequality used to be about rich versus poor, but now it's increasingly a matter of the ultra rich and everyone else. The curious effect of the new divide is an economy that appears to be charging ahead, until you realize that most of the people in it are being left in the dust. President Bush has yet to acknowledge the true state of affairs, though it's at the root of his failure to convince Americans that the good times are rolling.
From 2003 to 2004, the most recent years covered by the data, the real income of the top 1 percent of households with incomes over $315,000 per year grew by 17 percent. For everyone else, incomes increased by only 3 percent, with most of that growth happening in the top 20 percent of households. According to the article, the top one percenters "enjoyed 36 percent of all income gains in 2004, on top of an already stunning 30 percent in 2003."
The same group also owned 57.5 percent of corporate wealth, a rise from 53.4 percent in 2003.
Among the factors that fuel or aggravate the growing gap are tax cuts aimed at the wealthy, failure to periodically raise the minimum wage, outsourcing, and twisted budget priorities such as the $40 billion recently cut by the Bush administration and Congress from programs that help low income and working people such as Medicaid and student loans.
This growing divide is not good for the future of democracy and republican government. As Aristotle, Goat Rope's official philosopher in residence, noted long ago, the most stable societies are those based on a large and strong middle class.
Apologists for the current oligarchy claim that somehow, if we live long enough, all this might trickle down. But as Aristotle noted in his Politics, "There comes a time when out of a false good there arises a true evil, since the encroachments of the rich are more destructive to the constitution than those of the people."
GOAT ROPE ADVISORY LEVEL: WIDENING