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Separate but unequal: Charts show growing rich-poor gap

February 24, 2011 Comments off

news.yahoo.com

The Great Recession and the slump that followed have triggered a jobs crisis that’s been making headlines since before President Obama was in office, and that will likely be with us for years. But the American economy is also plagued by a less-noted, but just as serious, problem: Simply put, over the last 30 years, the gap between rich and poor has widened into a chasm.

Gradual developments like this don’t typically lend themselves to news coverage. But Mother Jones magazine has crunched the data on inequality, and put together a group of stunning new charts. Taken together, they offer a dramatic visual illustration of who’s doing well and who’s doing badly in modern America.

Here are three samples:

This chart shows that the poorest 90 percent of Americans make an average of $31,244 a year, while the top 1 percent make over $1.1 million:

Read more…

What kinds of societies create wealth? What kinds destroy it?

January 25, 2011 Comments off

There are some activities that are positive sum activities. That is, they are productive. They increase the total of real wealth in a society.

Bill Bonner

There are other activities that are zero sum activities…or even negative sum activities. War, for example. Excess legal wrangling. Paperwork. Too much time spent in schools. Too much support for the unemployed, the malingerers and the loafers. These things decrease the total of real wealth in a society.

Sometimes people are bright, honest and hardworking. Sometimes they are lazy, shiftless and cunning. They always prefer to get wealth and status by the easiest means possible. In some societies, the best way is by working hard. In others, it is by being clever…becoming a lawyer…a banker…or a government hack.

A new society…or a fresh economy (such as one that has just been flattened by war or hyperinflation)…or a new model for an economy…is generally a wealth-creating society.

A free society is also generally a wealth creating society. People do what they want. If they want wealth, they are free to create it.

But as societies (or economies) age, they become Read more…