by German Lopez
Most Americans underestimate U.S. wealth inequality
A YouTube video that went viral over the weekend may have broken the rosy illusions the average American has about wealth and income inequality.
Using data from Mother Jones,
Dan Ariely, ThinkProgress and CNN, the video compares the average American’s ideal distribution of wealth, what the average American says wealth inequality looks like and how wealth is distributed in reality — ultimately showing that the average American says the nation is much more equal than it really is.
The video suggests investment income as one of the drivers of inequality. The top 1 percent wealthiest Americans hold 50 percent of the
nation’s stocks, bonds and mutual funds, while the bottom 50 percent of
Americans only hold 0.5 percent of such investments, according to the
“The average worker needs to work more than a month to earn what the CEO makes in one hour,” the narrator says.
In the past, the United States was a lot closer to equality. As the
video points out, the top 1 percent only took home 9 percent of the
nation’s income in 1976. Today, that number is up to 24 percent.Ohio isn’t immune to the trend. A previous report
from the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found
Ohio’s income gap — the income difference between the rich and poor — is
wide and growing, and low-income and middle-income
Ohioans have actually seen their incomes drop since the 1990s.
The video doesn’t make any suggestions on how to fix the
problem — it simply shows massive inequality exists — but there are
plenty of ideas out there. A paper from the Congressional Research Service
suggested the tax system may be playing a role in driving up income and wealth inequality: “However, the top tax
rate reductions appear to be correlated with the increasing
concentration of income at the top of the income distribution. … The
statistical analysis in this report suggests that tax policy could be
related to how the economic pie is sliced — lower top tax rates may be
associated with greater income disparities.”
In December, The Washington Post posted 10 empirically supported ideas, which included funding preschool education, making unions easier to join and promoting trade in highly skilled professions.
In his 2013 State of the Union, President Barack Obama
suggested raising the federal minimum wage to help combat poverty
and income inequality — a policy that economist Lawrence Mishel of the
Economic Policy Institute recently advocated.
Here is the full video:
by German Lopez
More bad news for Secretary of State Jon Husted. The Ohio Supreme Court
told Husted his approved ballot language for Issue 2 contains “factual
inaccuracies” and must be rewritten by the Ballot Board. Voters First
previously contested the language as misleading to voters. If
approved by voters, Issue 2 will put an independent citizens commission
in charge of redistricting. Under the current system, state officials
redraw borders, sometimes using the process for political advantage. In
Cincinnati’s district, the Republican-controlled process redrew the
district to include Warren County, giving the district more rural voters
that tend to side with Republicans instead of urban voters that tend to
side with Democrats. Voters First mocked the process with a graph
showing how redistricting decisions can sometimes be made in 13 minutes
with no questions asked. CityBeat covered the redistricting process here when Issue 2 was still in the petition process.
Ohio’s median income dropped last year, according to a new
report from the U.S. Census Bureau. But rates of poverty and uninsured
rates remained the same. Nationwide, uninsured rates dropped from 16.3
percent in 2010 to 15.7 percent in 2011, meaning 1.4 million people
gained health coverage. Some of that is attributable to health-care reform passed by President Barack Obama.Former University of Cincinnati President Greg Williams is
getting a pretty nice going-away present. The Board of Trustees approved
a package for Williams that adds up to more than $1.2 million. It
includes a bonus, retirement benefits, consulting fees, a year’s salary
and a contract buyout. Williams abruptly left UC on Aug. 21, citing
Homeless shelters will cost more than expected, says 3CDC.
The nonprofit group said it will cost about $40 million to build three
homeless shelters and help finance others.
With the support of Democrats and Republicans, the Ohio
legislature approved pension reforms yesterday. The reforms lower benefits, raise
contributions requirements, increase the retirement eligibility age, establish new cost-of-living guidelines and set a new
formula to calculate benefits, all for future retirees. For the most part, current retirees are
not affected. Senate President Tom Niehaus, a Republican, said, “We know
the changes are not popular, but they are necessary.” Before the
changes, the system was losing $1 million a day, according to a
statement from Rep. Robert Hagan, a Democrat.Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio is pushing against banks that
take advantage of college students. In a letter to Higher One, Brown
told the bank to rework its contracts with universities. Brown wrote in
the letter, “Federal student aid programs should help students prepare
for the future, not extract fee income from them.” He went on to ask the
bank to redo its contracts so they are “consumer-friendly and
consistent with reforms that Congress enacted for the credit card
market.”Ohio’s inspector general found ODJFS wrongly reimbursed
organizations in central Ohio with federal stimulus funds when the
organizations did not follow rules.Vice President Joe Biden was in Dayton yesterday. During his speech, he spoke about the attack on the U.S. embassy in Libya, which led to the death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens. Biden vowed justice will be served.Presidential candidate Mitt Romney unleashed a big foreign
policy gaffe yesterday when he politicized the attack on the U.S.
embassy in Libya. The attack was revealed to cause the death of Stevens after Romney made his comments.Math shows homeopathy, a trend in medicine, is implausible.