Average America vs the One Percent

By Alan Dunn, Contributor

If the Occupy movement does nothing else, it has at least introduced a new set of terms into the American vocabulary to talk about the distribution of wealth in America. Until recently, most average people had no idea how wealth was distributed in the country; most people had a vague idea of a wealthy minority, but they rarely grasped the full extent of income disparity between classes. Now, most people are aware of the notion of the 1 percent, although they still may not know exactly what it means or how that unequal distribution of wealth applies to the rest of the country.

Unequal wealth distribution is hardly a new or uniquely American problem. In fact, it’s been prevalent throughout society since humans first built civilizations: A small minority of aristocrats has always wielded the most power throughout history. In modern times, America lags behind nearly every other first-world nation in closing the gap between the classes. In fact, we’re making it worse.

The Distribution of Wealth Between Americans

Before you can talk about the 1 percent, it’s important to put the figures into perspective by understanding exactly what that figure means. The average annual income of the top 1 percent of the population is $717,000, compared to the average income of the rest of the population, which is around $51,000. The real disparity between the classes isn’t in income, however, but in net value: The 1 percent are worth about $8.4 million, or 70 times the worth of the lower classes.

The 1 percent are executives, doctors, lawyers and politicians, among other things. Within this group of people is an even smaller and wealthier subset of people, 1 percent of the top, or .01 percent of the entire nation. Those people have incomes of over $27 million, or roughly 540 times the national average income. Altogether, the top 1 percent control 43 percent of the wealth in the nation; the next 4 percent control an additional 29 percent.

It’s historically common for a powerful minority to control a majority of finances, but Americans haven’t seen a disparity this wide since before the Great Depression — and it keeps growing.

The Fallacy of Hard Work

It’s a common belief in America that all people have the same opportunity for success as the top 1 percent. Most people consider success to be a by-product of hard work, and hard work is something that Americans are extremely familiar with. In fact, Americans have increased productivity by 80 percent since 1979; unfortunately, their income hasn’t risen accordingly, if at all.

The average worker in an American company makes substantially less than supervisors and executives. In fact, corporate executives make 62 times more money than an average worker in bonuses alone, not counting the executive’s actual salary. For every corporate bonus, the company could have paid 62 employees. In fact, incentive pay actually rose 30 percent from years before the recession.

A Difference in Lifestyle: Americans and the 1 Percent

It’s no surprise that people in different classes spend their money differently. A person’s priorities change when he becomes wealthy, and certain expenses don’t vary much from one class to the next. The cost of food, healthcare and other expenses remains constant between classes, while the relative income may vary substantially.

For example, all Americans pay an average of a third of their incomes for housing. The second highest expense of top earners in America is transportation; the rich spend about 17 percent of their income traveling for business and pleasure. On the other hand, the lower classes spend about 17 percent of their income on feeding their families.

Read more » Forbes
http://www.forbes.com/sites/moneywisewomen/2012/03/21/average-america-vs-the-one-percent/

The Nanga Parbat Massacre

Night on Bald Mountain; The Nanga Parbat Massacre

by Omar

PS: contrary to what my friend had heard from Sher Khan (see below), Ali Hussain, the poor cook who got shot alongside our foreign guests in Diamir base camp, really was a Shia. So the Taliban guessed right when they looked at his name and shot him thinking “hey, this looks like a SHIA name”. Details here (in Urdu) http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/pakistan/2013/06/130626_pakistani_porter_murder_sh.shtml

Thousands like him will lose their livelihood now.

Bastards.

btw, as noted below by various commentators, the local Sunni fanatic faction in Kohistan is hostile to climbers and tourists in general. They are not the ones losing their livelihood. In fact, since the finest intel agency in the world trained them in Alpine warfare, THEIR livelihood is more dependent on a different kind of foreigner (the sort willing to pay protection money, employ “non-state actors” or otherwise contribute to the cause, willingly or unwillingly).

btw, contrary to all Paknationalist conspiracy bullcrap, the local police chief claims to know the terrorists and none are foreigners. 

On June 23rd some 15-20 men dressed in the uniforms of the Gilgit Scouts climbed up to the base camp at the foot of the Diamir face of Nanga Parbat. There, at the height of 13000 feet above sea level, they pulled climbers, guides, porters and cooks out of their tents, smashed their phones, laptops and solar panels and put them in two groups. The locals were in one group, the foreigners were lined up on the other side. Then they shot all the foreign climbers in the back of the head. Since exit wounds are bigger than entry wounds and exit wounds were in the face, some of the foreigners are said to be hard to recognize. Looking at ID cards, they also shot a local cook whose name was Ali Hassan. If they had asked him, he might have told them that he was a Sunni, just happened to have a “Shia-sounding” name. But unfortunately the resistance-fighters (thank you Tariq Ali) didnt bother to ask. Another local who told this story to a friend survived because his name is Sher Khan. He is Ismaili. Luckily for him, they just looked at ID cards. He survived because his name doesnt sound Shia.

It takes a day to climb to the base camp. The area is fairly remote. Adventurous tourists and climbers do go there, but its still the kind of place where everyone knows who has just passed by and why. Yet 15-20 killers made the climb, carried out a massacre and disappeared. And have not been seen since.

Its not THAT remote thought. The valleys to the west are the region of Kohistan. Its a Sunni majority region that abuts the significant Shia and Ismaili population of Gilgit-Baltistan. In the 1980s General Zia, perhaps not fully confident of the Jihad bonafides of the Shias, had the Kohistanis massacre some local Shias and started a sectarian feud that is still ongoing.

A year ago there was a massacre of Shia passengers travelling to Gilgit through the nearby town of Chilas.

Note that passengers are being identified by the scars on their back. The people who are carrying out the massacre are NOT masked. The whole affair is happening on the main highway. It went on for a long time. But nobody came to stop them. Nobody has been arrested or punished. There have also been episodes where climbers or tourists have been looted by armed men in the area. So violence is not new to this region. But previously only locals were being killed, now the terrorists have struck a more prominent target.

Continue reading The Nanga Parbat Massacre

Living with Jihadistan – Parthasarathy reviews Avoiding Armageddon

Books by American academics, officials and journalists on India and Pakistan almost invariably portray reluctance of the authors to call a spade a spade. They underplay the serious global implications of Pakistan’s links with radical Islamist terrorist groups and the dangerous role of these groups within Pakistan and beyond its borders, particularly in India and Afghanistan. Bruce Riedel is different. He is an American specialist on the Middle East, South Asia and counter-terrorism, with 29 years’ experience in the CIA. He has also served four presidents in the White House.

Riedel’s new book, Avoiding Armageddon: America, India and Pakistan to the Brink and Back, is a colourful and interesting account of the imperatives, twists and turns of America’s policies, especially since the days of World War II and the subsequent partition of the sub-continent in August 1947. While the birth pangs of the partition, the dispute over Jammu and Kashmir and the India-Pakistan conflicts of 1965 and 1971 are covered factually and impartially, it is important for all those interested in the geopolitics of India’s neighbourhood to read and absorb Riedel’s analysis of how the US cultivated Pakistan’s military dictator, General Zia-ul-Haq, to “bleed” the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. In the process, America made Pakistan a playground for radical Islamist groups worldwide, which undermined security and stability within Pakistan and across its entire neighbourhood.

General Zia laid the foundations for Pakistan’s ambitions to make Afghanistan a radical Islamic state and the epicentre for global jihad. Over 80,000 Afghans were armed and trained by the isi during the Zia period, with an aim of ending Afghan territorial claims on Pakistan and eliminating Indian and Soviet influence there, while also making Afghanistan “a real, Islamic State, part of a pan-Islamic revival that will one day win over the Muslims of the Soviet Union”. Riedel reveals how General Zia used the Afghan conflict for carrying his enthusiasm for jihad into Jammu and Kashmir, following a secret meeting with Kashmiri Jamat-e-Islami leader Maulana Abdul Bari in 1980. Riedel also reveals Zia’s role in fomenting terrorism in Punjab in the 1980s. He exposes US duplicity in rewarding Pakistan in the 1980s, by deliberately turning a blind eye to its nuclear weapons programme.

Riedel explains how short-sighted American policies promoted Wahhabi-oriented radicalisation in a nuclear-armed Pakistan. These policies also increased the dominance of the army, weakening democratic institutions. They led to the emergence of global links between radical Islamist organisations in Pakistan and Afghanistan and their counterparts across the world. The Kargil conflict is discussed in detail, as is the military standoff that followed the December 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament. Riedel is unsparing on the links of the isi with the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT). He dwells on the nexus between isi-supported terrorist groups like the let and the Jaish-e-Mohammed, with the Taliban and with groups like the al Qaeda and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. The book commences with the 26/11 terrorist strike on Mumbai. The actions of the let and its chief Hafiz Mohammed Saeed and their terrorist links are clinically analysed. Riedel describes how the tentacles of the ISI extend from the let to the Taliban and jihadi groups worldwide.

Riedel spells out two nightmare scenarios. The first is a takeover of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons by terrorists. The second nightmare he alludes to is a 26/11-type terrorist attack leading to nuclear escalation, after an angered India responds militarily.

Read more at: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/parthasarathy-reviews-avoiding-armageddon/1/277746.html