As the median family income falls, the rich get richer

the median American family income has fallen while the wealth of the rich and powerful has increased by 30%. Photo: Apple

YAKIMA, Wash., May 5, 2013 – It is absolutely astonishing the profits that corporate America is now making. Apple, Inc. has so much money on its books that it announced that it wants to move a hundred billion dollars off its balance sheet.  Attention: that was “$100 BILLION.”

Newsweek reported that Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has scheduled Apple to buy back $60 billion worth of its outstanding stock. Additionally, the other $40 billion would reflect in the form of a 15% increase in the quarterly dividend for the shareholders.  This comes at a time when average workers are struggling just to make ends meet.

From 2005 to 2012, the purchasing power of the dollar has fallen 19% according to the latest estimates from the U.S. Department of Labor. In addition, the median American family income has fallen while the wealth of the rich and powerful has increased by 30%. 

Corporate America has approximately $1.79 trillion stashed in its coffers. Think about it: $1.79 trillion. This is up from $1.39 trillion in 2008.  Yet, the median family income has fallen during the same time period. 

Something is wrong in America.

When Haiti was hit with a devastating earthquake in 2010, it was the people of the U.S. who came to the Haitian’s rescue. When Hurricane Sandy devastated the east coast of America last year, it was Americans who came to the rescue. When Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Syria fell to pieces, it was the U.S. citizens who came to their rescue.

Yet, with the American middle-class struggling to make ends meet, corporate America turns a deaf ear and politicians turn a blind eye when it comes to helping our own. The Pew Research Center reports 85% of middle-class adults say it’s harder today than a decade ago for middle-class people to maintain their standard of living. While 62% of the people surveyed blame Congress for this decline, about 50% also blame American business institutions.

Something is wrong in America.

What would happen if companies like Apple, Wal-Mart, or all other big corporation suddenly decided that they had too much cash sitting on their balance sheets and gave the bottom 75% of their work force a substantial pay raise? 

What if the lowest paid store clerk’s minimum wage got doubled? What if the poorest paid tellers at your local bank branch got their salaries bumped up substantially?  

Would the rich take it in the shorts? No. 

It’s doubtful they would miss the money.

Would it hurt banks to pay a decent dividend, maybe 5%, like in the “good old days” when banks were actually banks? Today, banks are often financial machines that practice a legalized brand of extortion, sucking every cent they can out of depositors and borrowers. They make huge profits, hoard their gains, and give very little back to the communities they serve.

Apple operates about 402 company store which employ 42,600 people at wages, which are relative low. If they would to give these people a decent wage, think what the effect would be on our economy. These hard working people would eat out more often, spend more money, buy houses (which the lenders would love), and take nice trips more often. 

If Apple were to up the pay to this one group by $10 a week, it would add over $20 million dollars to our economy. Now just think if Wal-Mart did the same thing.  The effect on our economy would be staggering.  Other big companies and banks could jump on the bandwagon, and so on and so on, until our economy was really humming along.

Why can’t this happen? Simple. One three letter word: Ego

One three letter word: ego. The need to show strength, show super ability, and show super power to control others is what stops those with the money from seeing the need for a stronger, more robust middle class. No longer do they believe in a trickle-down economy, they believe in total control.

Something is wrong in America.

(Larry Momo writes columns for the Washington Times Community Section and the San Pedro News Pilot.)

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Larry Momo

Larry is an older folk who refuses to retire and won’t quit trying to contribute. His family has labeled him a curmudgeon but, hey, everyone knows that only young people are hopeful. Like most older folk, Larry believes that nothing much will change: petrol companies will still make billions; AT&T will continue to take over the World; Wal-Mart will still sell cheap plastic products for a bundle;   And, 56 million of us older folk will go to sleep every night secure in the fact that Congress will try to figure out how to cut more money out of the Social Security fund to spend on pork belly projects.  Maybe they could build a bridge to who knows where?  Now that I’ve enlightened you a bit about myself, enjoy Curmudgeon Corner--God knows, I love writing it.

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