Tag Archives: income inequality

Why Stephen Hawking is more afraid of capitalism than robots

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In October, a Reddit user asked Stephen Hawking if he thinks robots are coming to take all of our jobs.

“In particular, do you foresee a world where people work less because so much work is automated?” the user asked the renowned physicist on an Ask Me Anything thread.

The question isn’t crazy. Computers are getting smarter and more efficient all the time. It’s conceivable that we one day will reach a point where machines’ output is simply much more valuable than humans’.

Hawking didn’t discount the notion that machines may replace us. But he said whether this is good or bad depends on how the wealth produced by machines is distributed. That is, Hawking is more concerned about capitalism than he is about robots. He wrote:

..Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine-owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution. So far, the trend seems to be toward the second option, with technology driving ever-increasing inequality.

We could be headed toward a work-free utopia where machine-produced goods and services are cheap and plentiful for all. Or, as Hawking suggests, the coming robot age will just exaggerate the income inequality that’s rampant across the globe. (Hawking is generally ambivalent on the advent of artificial intelligence. “We are facing potentially the best or worst thing to happen to humanity in history,” he has said.)

Read more » Vox
See more » http://www.vox.com/2016/2/27/11119804/stephen-hawking-robots

Oxfam says wealth of richest 1% equal to other 99%

The richest 1% now has as much wealth as the rest of the world combined, according to Oxfam.

It uses data from Credit Suisse from October for the report, which urges leaders meeting in Davos this week to take action on inequality.

Oxfam also calculated that the richest 62 people in the world had as much wealth as the poorest half of the global population.

It criticised the work of lobbyists and the amount of money kept in tax havens.

Oxfam predicted that the 1% would overtake the rest of the world this time last year.

Read more » BBC
See more » http://www.bbc.com/news/business-35339475

Australians’ living standards face the greatest threat in a generation: report

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Australians’ living standards face the greatest threat in a generation, with no signs of strong wage growth, longer unpaid commuting times and a rise in workforce casualisation putting more pressure on middle- and lower-income households than they have faced in 20 years.

A new report from Per Capita, an independent think tank, also shows the split of national income between labour and capital is continuing to worsen in Australia, with wages’ share of national income dropping from 65.5 per cent at the turn of the century to 59.7 per cent in 2012.

It says this has occurred at the same time as the bulk of productivity improvements have come from labour rather than capital in recent years.

The report, “Paradise Lost? The race to maintain Australian living standards”, says Australians’ living standards are under threat due to slowing productivity, rising unemployment and slowing wages growth.

It warns Australians face an “inevitable correction” in their income and wages levels – with real wages set to fall markedly to reflect the country’s changed economic circumstances and lack of reform over the last decade – if nothing is done about it.

David Hetherington, Per Capita’s director, warned Australian governments they must re-start the reform process now to arrest the worrying trends, saying the benefit of the economic reforms of the 1980s and ’90s had run their course.

“Australia must either reform once again or face a dramatic downwards adjustment in wage levels and living standards,” Mr Hetherington said.

“To continue to lift labour productivity, we must lift our investment in hard infrastructure like transport and broadband, as well as soft infrastructure like skills and education.

Courtesy: The Age
Read more » http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/australians-living-standards-face-the-greatest-threat-in-a-generation-report-20150423-1mrppz.html

I am a cook in the US Senate but I still need food stamps to feed my children

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I work 70 hours a week doing two jobs but cannot make ends meet. Presidential hopefuls must make profitable federal contractors pay living wages

Every day, I serve food to some of the most powerful people on earth, including many of the senators who are running for president: I’m a cook for the federal contractor that runs the US Senate cafeteria. But today, they’ll have to get their meals from someone else’s hands, because I’m on strike.

I am walking off my job because I want the presidential hopefuls to know that I live in poverty. Many senators canvas the country giving speeches about creating “opportunity” for workers and helping our kids achieve the “American dream” – most don’t seem to notice or care that workers in their own building are struggling to survive.

I’m a single father and I only make $12 an hour; I had to take a second job at a grocery store to make ends meet. But even though I work seven days a week – putting in 70 hours between my two jobs – I can’t manage to pay the rent, buy school supplies for my kids or even put food on the table. I hate to admit it, but I have to use food stamps so that my kids don’t go to bed hungry.

I’ve done everything that politicians say you need to do to get ahead and stay ahead: I work hard and play by the rules; I even graduated from college and worked as a substitute teacher for five years. But I got laid-off and I now I’m stuck trying to make ends meet with dead-end service jobs.

Continue reading I am a cook in the US Senate but I still need food stamps to feed my children

Fueled by Recession, U.S. Wealth Gap Is Widest in Decades, Study Finds

CapitalistsBy

The wealthy are getting wealthier. As for everyone else, no such luck.

A report released on Wednesday by the Pew Research Center found that the wealth gap between the country’s top 20 percent of earners and the rest of America had stretched to its widest point in at least three decades.

Last year, the median net worth of upper-income families reached $639,400, nearly seven times as much of those in the middle, and nearly 70 times the level of those at the bottom of the income ladder.

There has been growing attention to the issue of income inequality, particularly the plight of those earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour or close to it.

But while income and wealth are related (the more you make, the more you can save and invest), the wealth gap zeros in on a different aspect of financial well-being: how much money and other assets you have accumulated over time, including the value of your home and car plus any investments in stocks, bonds and the like.

While those at the top have managed to recoup much of the wealth lost during the economic downturn, middle-income families have not made any gains.

“The Great Recession destroyed a significant amount of middle-income and lower-income families’ wealth, and the economic ‘recovery’ has yet to be felt for them,” the report concluded.

Read more » The New York Times
Learn more » http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/18/business/economy/us-wealth-gap-widest-in-at-least-30-years-pew-study-says.html?smid=tw-nytimes&_r=0

30,000 Canadians are homeless every night

200,000 Canadians are homeless in any given year, national report says

By CBC News

Despite sporadic success in addressing homelessness in Canada, little progress has been made toward a permanent cross-country solution, says a national report into the extent of the problem.  The report’s initial numbers tell a grim story. Among the report’s findings:

At least 200,000 Canadians experience homelessness in any given year.
At least 150,000 Canadians a year use a homeless shelter at some point.
At least 30,000 Canadians are homeless on any given night.
At least 50,000 Canadians are part of the “hidden homeless” on any given night — staying with friends or relatives on a temporary basis as they have nowhere else to go.

Read more » CBC
See more » http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/30-000-canadians-are-homeless-every-night-1.1413016

 

Empty wallets explain new levels of partisan hatred

Tricle downBy  | Daily Ticker

new study by Pew Research verifies much we already know about political extremism in America: It’s getting worse and interfering with social and economic progress. The big question is: Why?

Pew doesn’t address that question, but here’s a plausible answer: Voters are becoming angrier because living standards are falling and the middle class is shriveling. Prosperity breeds comity, but when it gets harder to get ahead, the natural inclination is for the losers to look for somebody to blame and the winners to feel more threatened. That’s been going on for nearly 30 years. Income inequality began to worsen in the United States starting around the early 1980s.

Read more » Yahoo News
https://ca.finance.yahoo.com/blogs/daily-ticker/empty-wallets-explain-why-democrats-and-republicans-hate-each-other-191155158.html

The New 1% isn’t just the Rich, it is the Spoiled Oligarch Heirs (Krugman)

Economist Paul Krugman explains how the United States is becoming an oligarchy – the very system our founders revolted against.

Bill Moyers interviews Paul Krugman

” Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, a 42-year-old who teaches at the Paris School of Economics, shows that two-thirds of America’s increase in income inequality over the past four decades is the result of steep raises given to the country’s highest earners.

This week, Bill talks with Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, about Piketty’s “magnificent” new book.

“What Piketty’s really done now is he said, ‘Even those of you who talk about the 1 percent, you don’t really get what’s going on.’ He’s telling us that we are on the road not just to a highly unequal society, but to a society of an oligarchy. A society of inherited wealth.”

Krugman adds: “We’re seeing inequalities that will be transferred across generations. We are becoming very much the kind of society we imagined we’re nothing like.” ”

Courtesy: http://www.juancole.com/2014/04/spoiled-oligarch-krugman.html

Some 95% of 2009-2012 Income Gains Went to Wealthiest 1%

By Brenda Cronin

Research released this month shows that the incomes of the well-off have largely climbed back from the toll of the most recent recession while those of the poor have yet to start recovering.

According to the latest version of “Striking it Richer: The Evolution of Top Incomes in the United States,” by Emmanuel Saez, of the University of California, Berkeley, the income inequality gap has been expanding, rather than narrowing, as the 2007-2009 recession recedes. That trend has been unfolding for more than 30 years

Read more » The Wall Street Journal
http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2013/09/10/some-95-of-2009-2012-income-gains-went-to-wealthiest-1/

Income Inequality in Canada

Canada gets a “C” grade and ranks 12th out of 17 peer countries.
Income inequality in Canada has increased over the past 20 years.
Since 1990, the richest group of Canadians has increased its share of total national income, while the poorest and middle-income groups has lost share.

Read more » http://www.conferenceboard.ca/hcp/details/society/income-inequality.aspx