Home > Uncategorized > Share of income earned by Top 1 Percent, 1975-2015 – 7 countries

Share of income earned by Top 1 Percent, 1975-2015 – 7 countries



  1. May 10, 2019 at 4:41 pm

    The seven countries are well-developed capitalist economies, with widest income inequality in the least government-regulated of those economies, and narrowest in the most regulated.

    • Helen Sakho
      May 10, 2019 at 11:42 pm

      Which, in a nutshell, makes perfect sense.

      • May 11, 2019 at 3:31 am

        Good to hear from you, Dr. Sakho. :)

  2. May 12, 2019 at 3:41 am

    And that shows only a fraction of the real extent of the systemic parasitism & collateral damage done by the last 50 years of kleptocracy.

    • Helen Sakho
      May 12, 2019 at 10:07 pm

      Thank you for your kind comment. Some postings are worth replying to. And in agreement with Michael, it really does go back to the period you mention, the beginning of the death of relative democracy and accountability. The damage has worsened since 2015, and one wonders how much more will be inflicted by the end of the decade, never mind the decades to come after.

  3. May 13, 2019 at 8:08 am

    For the countries considered, there is an inverse correlation between income inequality and life expectancy (see wikipedia, WHO data for 2015), not a surprise in light of past research.

  4. Ken Zimmerman
    May 14, 2019 at 3:36 am

    The expert economist speaks, under oath.

    October 23, 2008. Former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan told Congress Thursday the economic crisis unveiled “a flaw” in his view of world markets.
    ALAN GREENSPAN, Former Federal Reserve Chairman: We are in the midst of a once-in-a-century credit tsunami. Central banks and governments are being required to take unprecedented measures.
    JUDY WOODRUFF: Greenspan has been criticized for decisions he made earlier this decade that some economists charge helped to foster the housing bubble.
    REP. HENRY WAXMAN (D), California: And my question for you is simple: Were you wrong?
    ALAN GREENSPAN: Partially.
    JUDY WOODRUFF: Democrats on the committee, led by the chairman, Henry Waxman of California, pressed Greenspan on whether his fundamental economic philosophy was mistaken.
    REP. HENRY WAXMAN: The question I have for you is, you had an ideology, you had a belief that free, competitive — and this is your statement — “I do have an ideology. My judgment is that free, competitive markets are by far the unrivaled way to organize economies. We’ve tried regulation. None meaningfully worked.” That was your quote. You had the authority to prevent irresponsible lending practices that led to the subprime mortgage crisis. You were advised to do so by many others. And now our whole economy is paying its price. Do you feel that your ideology pushed you to make decisions that you wish you had not made?
    ALAN GREENSPAN: Well, remember that what an ideology is, is a conceptual framework with the way people deal with reality.
    Everyone has one. You have to — to exist, you need an ideology.
    The question is whether it is accurate or not. And what I’m saying to you is, yes, I found a flaw. I don’t know how significant or permanent it is, but I’ve been very distressed by that fact.
    REP. HENRY WAXMAN: You found a flaw in the reality…
    ALAN GREENSPAN: Flaw in the model that I perceived is the critical functioning structure that defines how the world works, so to speak.
    REP. HENRY WAXMAN: In other words, you found that your view of the world, your ideology, was not right, it was not working?
    ALAN GREENSPAN: That is — precisely. No, that’s precisely the reason I was shocked, because I had been going for 40 years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well.
    ALAN GREENSPAN: I knew — the housing bubble became clear to me sometime in early 2006, in retrospect. I did not forecast a significant decline because we had never had a significant decline in prices.
    And it’s only as the process began to emerge that it became clear that we were about to have what essentially was a global decline in home prices.
    REP. HENRY WAXMAN: Well, I want smart regulation. But I want to point out that what I’m hearing from our witnesses today is that they just didn’t know. They couldn’t make projections about what the future was or they’re not always right.
    The truth of the matter is that there were a lot of warning signs. The reasons why we set up your agencies and gave you budget authority to hire people is so that you can see problems developing before they become a financial crisis.
    To tell us afterwards, when we are now faced with the disaster that we’re seeing, that you couldn’t have foreseen it just doesn’t satisfy me.
    JUDY WOODRUFF: Greenspan, who was once dubbed the Oracle in the world of finance, said his predictive powers were limited.
    ALAN GREENSPAN: So it strikes me that, if you go back and ask yourself how in the early years anybody could realistically make a judgment as to what was ultimately going to happen to subprime, I think you’re asking more than anybody is capable of judging.
    And we have this extraordinarily complex global economy, which as everybody now realizes is very difficult to forecast in any considerable detail.
    And, Mr. Chairman, I know — I agree with you in the fact that there were a lot of people who raised issues about problems emerging, but there are always a lot of people raising issues, and half the time they’re wrong. And the question is, what do you do?
    I mean, you point out quite correctly that the Federal Reserve had as good an economic organization as exists, and I would say, in the world. If all those extraordinarily capable people were unable to foresee the development of this critical problem, which undoubtedly
    was the cause of the world problem with respect to mortgage backed securities, I have to — I think we have to ask ourselves, why is that?
    And the answer is that we’re not smart enough as people. We just cannot see events that far in advance. And unless we can, it’s very difficult to look back and say, why didn’t we catch something?

    Greenspan, if he were around today would probably note that we just couldn’t see all this inequality coming, due to our limited models. And then he’d go right back to work creating the world that model demands.

    • Rob
      May 14, 2019 at 9:08 am

      ALAN GREENSPAN: So it strikes me that, if you go back and ask yourself how in the early years anybody could realistically make a judgment as to what was ultimately going to happen to subprime, I think you’re asking more than anybody is capable of judging.

      Greenspan is a self-serving liar. Plenty of people could see what was coming. His own ideology blinded him.

      • Ken Zimmerman
        May 14, 2019 at 12:06 pm

        Rob, you may be right. Personally, I believe it was arrogance that blinded Greenspan. After years of being feted by Congress and called the “oracle,” I believe Greenspan began to believe that his ability to predict was infallible. What is it the Bible says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18

      • Rob
        May 14, 2019 at 12:11 pm

        Self-deception is subtle. There were warnings, ignored them, then makes sel-serving BS excuses. His loyalty to ideology was greater than his loyalty to truth.

      • Rob
        May 14, 2019 at 12:13 pm

        And yes, hubris blinds. Well chosen. Pride is often the handmaid of self-deception.

      • Ken Zimmerman
        May 14, 2019 at 1:46 pm

        One of my several vocations is clinical psychology. Most clinical psychologists don’t treat sociopathy. Most consider it incurable for all practical purposes. Most sociopaths are made, not born. Apart from all the other reasons for Greenspan’s apparent lack of concern for the damage his “conceptual framework” (ideology) had done to millions of people and the society in general, we might also want to consider that Greenspan’s actions were sociopathic. His history certainly points in that direction. His remark that Ayn Rand “stabilized” his life is interesting since Rand was a major destabilizing agent for many who gathered around her.

      • Rob
        May 14, 2019 at 11:04 pm

        I agree. Ayn Rand is a sociopath as are the tendencies of her sycophantic followers.

      • Ken Zimmerman
        May 15, 2019 at 10:05 am

        Rob, as President Trump might comment, these people should have known better than to attempt purchasing a house. They’re to blame for their situation; no one else. By the way, Trump is a classic sociopath. That’s what’s sociopaths do. They dehumanize; they belittle; they divide the world into us and them. And them is always losers and useless. Helping the losers is a waste of effort and time. Whenever there’s a Republican caucus meeting in the House or Senate, we get new revelations about Republican sociopathy. Sociopathy has become a spectator sport, sort of like the Gladiatorial Games.

      • Rob
        May 15, 2019 at 12:09 pm

        The more I learn the history of mainstream economics the more I realize it the ideology of sociopaths. I was trained in Accounting, worked in corporate accounting until shifting to computer science and software engineering. Remember some of my wealthy fellows at Microsoft buying up houses as investments thinking the gravy train would last forever. I warned them and they took a real bath. No pity for those fools. I feel for the average middle class that got drawn into the predatory lending. Fiduciary Duty one upon a Time meant something. Not any more in the age of predatory sociopathic capitalism. I already told the story on this blog somewhere how my wife and I brought one of the brokers (they were always calling us) into our home to let her flip the charts and give us their sales pitch. All roses and monthly savings with no downside. We of course only brought them in to confirm what we already knew. Many were taken advantage of who lacked the financial wherewithal to know what they were getting into.

      • Ken Zimmerman
        May 17, 2019 at 11:46 am

        Rob, perhaps we expect too much of people. They are after all only people. W. K. Marriott, translator of Nicolo Machiavelli’s “The Prince” says this in the introduction to the text.

        Although the light of almost four centuries has been focused on “The Prince,” its problems are still debatable and interesting, because they are the eternal problems between the ruled and their rulers. Such as they are, its ethics are those of Machiavelli’s contemporaries; yet they cannot be said to be out of date so long as the governments of Europe rely on material rather than on moral forces. Its historical incidents and personages become interesting by reason of the uses which Machiavelli makes of them to illustrate his theories of government and conduct…Men are still the dupes of their simplicity and greed, as they were in the days of Alexander VI. The cloak of religion still conceals the vices which Machiavelli laid bare in the character of Ferdinand of Aragon. Men will not look at things as they really are, but as they wish them to be— and are ruined. In politics there are no perfectly safe courses; prudence consists in choosing the least dangerous ones. Then—to pass to a higher plane—Machiavelli reiterates that, although crimes may win an empire, they do not win glory. Necessary wars are just wars, and the arms of a nation are hallowed when it has no other resource but to fight. It is the cry of a far later day than Machiavelli’s that government should be elevated into a living moral force, capable of inspiring the people with a just recognition of the fundamental principles of society; to this “high argument” “The Prince” contributes but little.

      • Rob
        May 18, 2019 at 12:38 am

        We are bound to be perpetually dissappointed if our happiness depends upon our expectations of others, in my view.

        Sometimes a little knowledge is truly disoncerting. To see the problems but lack the vision for the way forward can be distressing. RWER is a rather limited and myopic picture of what is happening in the world today, both inside and outside of economics, from my experience.

        I gave my daughters Kate Raworth’s book Doughnut Economics. She was recently here in Japan visiting and brought it with her from Canada (where I bought it for her when I took her their to settle into her university). She thanked me for getting it for her. The reason is it is pointing the way forward by telling a hopeful story of a new way of envisioning economics that is ethical, humane, and forward looking. She is now thinking of double majoring in biomedical science and politital science/law. she loves philosophy and so is a critical thinker. We need new leaders like this to take over and help fix the mess our generation created. Cynicism, pessimission, and lack of vision will not help them. Once you see the problem then must come a solution that is a balanced mix of idealism and pragmatism.

        I am reading Ethical Capitalism (Fridenson and Kikkawa 2017), published by the Shibusawa Eiichi Memorial Foundation of Tokyo (part of the series, “Japan and Global Society”) simultaniously with another work The Ethical Economy (Arvidsson and Peitersen 2003), as well as a book on Buddhist Economics (written by an economists who happens to be Buddhist), Islamic Economics, etc. Values matter and many are articulating paths foward that are hopeful.

      • Rob
        May 18, 2019 at 6:44 am

        Shibusawa’s notion of gapponshugi as the idea that a free market needs rules, that such rules should include ethics, and that simply copying Western rules and practices was not necessarily the best way for other countries to reach the difficult goal of combining business, economic growth, and morality.

      • Rob
        May 18, 2019 at 6:54 am
      • Rob
        May 18, 2019 at 3:57 am

        Correction: “We are bound to be perpetually dissappointed if our happiness depends upon our expectations of other’s behaviors.”

      • Ken Zimmerman
        May 18, 2019 at 2:04 pm

        Rob, David Von Drehle has an opinion piece in the Washington Post today, “This month’s abortion laws are anything but conservative.” Drehle says this, ““First, do no harm” — the timeless admonition to new doctors — gets about as close to the core of conservative philosophy as four words can. A conservative measures twice before cutting, heeds the doctrine of unintended consequences and lives by the motto: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. A healthy republic needs conservatives in its political mix, and the lack of them in power today is a leading cause of America’s civic anomie. Our conservative party has become a radical movement, from the White House to the statehouse.” And radicalism leads to tearing of the social fabric and the discrediting, if not downright destruction of our institutions. All necessary for social order and deliberative and democratic decision making. Ripping our community and our institutions must inevitably lead to madness, war, and revolution. We have the madness, we’re about to have the war it seems, and then will follow the revolution. And who benefits from this sort of world? Those who use madness, war, and revolution to gain and hold political power, and become rich. We need some real conservatives, desperately.

      • Rob
        May 18, 2019 at 3:17 pm

        I agree Ken. I am making, albeit not as elegant nor as erudite, the exact same argument to a conservative friend. Classical Conservatism, the kind you describe above, was driven out of the GOP long ago. All that remains is what I now call Unprincipled Conservatism, a form of lust for power over principles that fosters fratricidal partisan scorched earth politics.

        Wife and I watched Frontline tonight: Trump’s Trade War. Bannon is bald faced extremism openly calling for economics as warfare by other means. We are sliding into war and may well end up in global war.

        I am not wearing blinders or viewing the world through rose colored glasses. But the future is not written in stone. Our efforts are but a day’s work in the mosaic of the ages. The results are out of our hands as forces bigger than ourselves are in play. For my children’s sake I strive to make the world (my small part in it) better than I received it, and to maintain faith, hope, and love, the last being the greatest.

        I thought of you when I read this quote from “Making the American Self: Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln” by Daniel Walker Howe –

        “Two of Mann’s seminal public addresses show how he marshaled conservative arguments on behalf of humanitarian policies. In 1838 he delivered his lecture on “The Necessity of Education in a Republican Government.” Like Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, Horace Mann was convinced that the perpetuation of free institutions depended upon the subordination of the dangerous passions to the faculties of reason and morality. But in America’s fluid society, the inflammatory press, unreasoning political partisanship, and the opportunity for financial speculation all served to excite the passions of the populace, especially “the love of gain and the love of place.” Only through universal public education could the people be trained to self-control.12”

        Start reading this book for free: http://a.co/eWR9aWn

      • Rob
        May 19, 2019 at 12:46 am

        Thanks for this heads up Ken. David Von Drehle is spot I think. He accurately captures the classical meaning of the term “conservative” as used by our Founders. They grounded such views in what at the time was called “faculty psychology” and enlightenment thinking. There were not religious zealots bent turning their new nation into a theocracy. Modern day unprincipled conservatism is the condquences of numerous failures within in American civilization (educational, economic, social). One of the most important books I have given my daughters is David Howe’s Making the American Self. He uses the history of ideas to reveal that the terms “conservative” and “liberal” once had very different meanings and were not necessarily opposed, but rather complementary. We are in for a rough ride I think.

      • Rob
        May 19, 2019 at 4:30 am

        While I have never voted republican in my life I have most certainly been aware of the difference between the classical vs. the twisted extremist right-wing populism, the “angry mob” easily incited by the demagogue Trump, conservatism. The latter doesn’t even deserve to be under the same name, but nevertheless, it has been mainstreamed and therefor is now the official party line of the GOP. Unprincipled conservatism is now the official dogma of the GOP under Mitch McConnell, Ryan, and ilk like them. No one who knows their history can say we were not warned, for we were warned.

    • Rob
      May 15, 2019 at 8:36 am

      Greenspan should be in jail. https://youtu.be/9F_sxkSHmCo

  5. Helen Sakho
    May 20, 2019 at 1:36 am

    “A People’s History of America” should be compulsory reading. As should hundreds of other books written by progressive Americans. They were not in search of profit or profitability. They spoke “nothing but the truth” and should be remembered as heroes of American and world history.

    • Ken Zimmerman
      May 20, 2019 at 11:04 am

      Helen, for such books to become compulsory, they must first be popular. “A People’s History of the United States” is not a popular book. It is a guidepost for some, such as yourself, but for most Americans it creates only tension and uncertainties. Historically, Americans are a conservative people, but with outbreaks of populism (right and left) and on and off efforts to create a common American culture that extends beyond being left alone and a good job or business opportunity. Some of the cultures that make up America are decidedly different from this general description, however. Some are forcefully humanistic and community oriented, while others are selfish and focused on only the needs of their insular group. Building a single culture from these disparate cultures has been difficult. Sometimes it’s a matter of trusting other Americans whose appearance, customs, or origins are different than one’s own. Other times it’s a matter of fearing unfamiliar others will take one’s economic wellbeing. Other times it’s religious differences or grudges brought over from the “old” country. And when some progress is made, such as after WWII, during the 1960s, or after the attacks of 9-11, often one form or another of populism, nativism, or xenophobia creates new divisions and hatreds among Americans that may require decades to resolve. Zinn is a good historian but not a great historian. Most of what he writes is accurate, but he writes in ways that irritate old fears and threaten the stability that American immigrants (that’s all of us) need to work together to solve the many problems facing America today and in the future. A little softer touch and one that simultaneously unites while also critiquing American history would make him a great historian.

      • Rob
        May 21, 2019 at 12:37 am

        Interesting. A short list important works are welcomed.

  6. Helen Sakho
    May 21, 2019 at 1:16 am

    Ken, I do understand your point, believe me. And that is just the problem. I mentioned hundreds of other books and sources. In fact, I met a very nice American lady on a tour of Europe today (from the Mid-West) who saw me reading the New York Times and wondered why I knew so much about the collapse of the Lehman Brothers, Globalisation, etc. She genuinely believed that the paper I was reading was a communist publication or it would be considered so in the US.

    And I remember after the 9/11 attacks, despite profound sympathy for the victims, I was horrified to see that a group of colleagues (all white) argued that this was the biggest tragedy humanity had ever seen. The saddest thing for me was that we were at conference on Critical Thinking, but they seemed unaware that Imperialism, Globalisation – old or new, had been a constant feature of human history for thousands of years. Call it what you like, but it is just an undeniable fact.

    In fact, I wrote a formal piece on and it was published by Environment and Planning. It is available on the net, but if you wish I can send to you here.

    The day today, a generous, kind woman had not even noticed that the US dollar was the only currency in the Western world that has ” In God We Trust” printed on it! She was going to vote for Mrs. Clinton as she is better that Trump! She had never been to Harlem, or New York, or many parts of the US either. Just a small town in the mId-west, where she will do her best to help with food bags…So sad really.

    As you say, America must address its divisions.

    • Rob
      May 21, 2019 at 1:24 am

      “I mentioned hundreds of other books and sources.” Please forgive my old eyes and direct me to a few sources. I feel your frustration and pain. As an American I can hardly any longer suffer the abject willful ignorance that leads fools to think knowledge is “communism.” How does one find common ground with willful ignorance that insists on harming others and denying them basic human rights in the name of “religious freedom”?

    • Rob
      May 21, 2019 at 2:00 am

      I met a very nice American lady on a tour of Europe today (from the Mid-West) who saw me reading the New York Times and wondered why I knew so much about the collapse of the Lehman Brothers, Globalisation, etc. She genuinely believed that the paper I was reading was a communist publication or it would be considered so in the US. ~ Helen Sakho

      The United States, if there is not a swift augmentation of wisdom, is about to pay the price of over forty years of a culture war that is now reaching a crescendo. And the innocent will not be spared, for the entire world will suffer for its evil, sin, and final rotten fruits of an iniquitous Trumpism fueled by evangelical fundamentalism wedded to market fundamentalism preached from the pulpits of American evangelical churches for over these many decades.

      And it is painfully obvious which side has the upper hand. Drip by drip American Constitutional Democracy is being usurped by religious fanatics bent on turning America into a Christian Nation. Their base, the sheep in the pulpits, have been brainwashed to believe that knowledge is communism, war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength, misogyny is feminism, and Paul Manafort is Hillary Clinton.

      It is a simple fact that many of the followers of Trump (his so-called “base”) are Evangelical Christians espousing a narrow fundamentalist worldview that has been fueling this culture war relentlessly now for almost a half-century. There can be no addressing of divisions until the root of the problem is addressed. And it is not only economics; it was not only because of the exporting of jobs overseas, for many of those middle-class Americans that voted for Trump were not unemployed but rather, well-off and doing fine. The causes are more nuanced and complex, and therefore, less easily addressed, I fear.

      Welcome to a the New World Order, Crusaders X.0, but on steroids with nuclear weapons. The world, largely because of American GOP capitulation to unprincipled conservatism and religious fanaticism embodied in evangelical fundamentalism, is about to unleash upon the world perpetual war and another “dark ages.” If Trump is reelected all bets are off and the world had better prepare of the demise of democracies around the world, starting with US democracy.

      • Ken Zimmerman
        May 21, 2019 at 3:46 am

        Helen and Rob, as historian Richard Hofstadter noted over 50 years ago, and some other historians before and after him, the American revolution was not a revolution. It might better be termed a “conservation.” Hofstadter wrote this in 1957, “The relative mildness of British authority in America-as reflected in the unfettered agitations of merchants’ groups and patriotic organizations, the terrorizing of the Tories in the colonies-suggests that the Revolution came not because of English tyranny but because of English weakness and inconsistency. The one thing most lacking after 1763 to make a revolution possible was enough sense of unity among the colonies to carry it through-and the fumbling policies of Parliament provided just the necessary unifying provocation. For all this, it would be a mistake to imagine that most colonists plotted and planned for independence. They wanted only the right to manage their affairs within-not outside-the empire. Even a month after fighting broke out at Lexington and Concord, the Continental Congress voted to make a careful list of the supplies captured from the English at Fort Ticonderoga so that they could be properly returned when ‘restoration of the former harmony’ made it possible. But the colonists were driven to demand independence when they finally concluded that without it they would not have the measure of self -government they wanted.”

      • Rob
        May 21, 2019 at 6:23 am

        The Making of the American Self is unfinished then, if I am reading the lesson right? The “revolution” is unfinished.

      • Ken Zimmerman
        May 21, 2019 at 12:57 pm

        Rob, correct. But more than that the USA has a long history of failing in efforts to create a common American culture. I give some of the reasons in my post above concerning Howard Zinn and his book, “A People’s History of the United States.”

      • Rob
        May 21, 2019 at 1:05 pm

        Yes, I read your post and it was very interesting. Have our read Making the American Self by Daniel Walker Howe? It was there that I first learned of the kind of conservatism you linked to above. It was there that I came to the same conclusion you make, we need a healthy two party (or more!) system and the loss of sane intelligent classical (for lack of a better term) conservatism is threatening our very nation.

      • Ken Zimmerman
        May 21, 2019 at 1:31 pm

        Rob, in my view best and fairest book on the history of conservatism in the last 20 years is, The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot by Russell Kirk. I gave it as gift to two conservative politicians I worked with in 2005 when I discovered neither had any knowledge of the history of the doctrines they claimed to represent.

      • Rob
        May 21, 2019 at 1:35 pm

        Thank you Ken, I will find a way of getting it.

      • Rob
        May 21, 2019 at 2:35 pm

        Got it.

      • Rob
        May 21, 2019 at 1:07 pm

        Also, from a religious studies perspective your thesis that there never has been a real “common American culture” is true. The idea that we were a Christian Nation is a myth. We were diverse from the very beginning. The question then remains what will bind us together before we tear ourselves apart?

      • Rob
        May 21, 2019 at 6:27 am

        I still want that (short) reading list :-) I’ve learned to much to not be persistent. My email is robreno at Hotmail and I’ll give you my non-spam one if I hear from you.

      • Craig
        May 21, 2019 at 4:36 am

        You’re correct that most colonists were not predisposed toward revolt, but they had an awareness of the benefits of fiat money systems with Franklin’s Pennsylvania system and how the economy tanked as soon as Parliament insisted that the colonists couldn’t create their own currency.

        We, on the other hand, are so long demagogued, dumbed down, bedazzled, distracted from distraction by distraction and damnably acculturated to private for profit finance that we’re excellent sheep.

        Let us get a sniff of the tyranny of the current paradigm and the obvious freedom and self interest of the new one….and the impossible becomes inevitable.

      • Rob
        May 21, 2019 at 6:43 am

        I love your motive, but I don’t understand a damn thing you are saying half the time. Forgive this common man.

  7. Helen Sakho
    May 21, 2019 at 1:33 am

    No idea my dear! All I did was to spend time with her (as one does with many others) and asked her to look at the currency when she got back… To try to understand the roots of the poverty rather than the symptoms, etc. She might think about it, but that is, as you know, neither here nor there…
    I wish I had drunk my coffee and read my paper! (I hope this puts a smile on your face.) So, please do not lose heart; your contributions here and elsewhere are vital at this point in our miserable world.

    • Rob
      May 21, 2019 at 6:38 am

      I agree that the roots of poverty are important. Send has been useful in that regards in exposing the twisted philosophy underlying some of it. I don’t know how familiar you are with ancient Jewish history, but when the prophets are understood in actual historical context there in like some cogent lessons for the roots of poverty. Is it really much different if widow’s houses are usurped by extortionary tiths, religious taxes, and money changers or Wall Street Subprime predatory lending? Isn’t the root greed, lust for power, and utter disregard that we are after all, our brother and sisters keeper?

      • Rob
        May 21, 2019 at 6:38 am

        Sen! Damn spellpecker!

      • Rob
        May 21, 2019 at 9:19 am

        Helen, forgive my silly question, I see now, I hear now, for what I only say dimily I now see clearly.

        If the rich could hire other people to die for them, the poor could make a wonderful living.
        ~ Yiddish Proverb

      • Rob
        May 21, 2019 at 9:21 am

        Doh! “saw”, I meant “saw”!

    • Rob
      May 21, 2019 at 8:58 am

      Is this you Helen (Here? RWER is lucky to have someone like you posting on its comment forum and I am lucky to be able to be in contact with such a person.

  8. Ken Zimmerman
    May 21, 2019 at 12:41 pm

    Performing poverty and the poor have existed since the advent of writing. That is, we don’t know a lot about people’s lives prior to written records and prior to about 1200 CE written records generally provide only a partial portrayal of human societies and cultures. We do know that poverty and the poor become part of human societies sometime between 10,000 BCE and 5,000 BCE, the latter being the approximate date of the earliest written human documents. Based on those documents we can identify the processes that created poverty and the poor. Poverty did not become a major issue in Europe, the UK, and the US until the 18th and 19th centuries. But even then, the presence of poverty was generally accepted as normal. At the beginning of the 19th century poverty was regarded as the natural condition of the laboring poor – those who worked with their hands. The fluctuations of harvests, the disruptions of war, and the fine line between subsistence and indigence was viewed as inevitable and difficult to change. Poverty was caused by many factors in the 1800s:
     Unemployment – families had no means of support.
     Large families – many children had to be cared for.
     Death of main ‘bread-winner’ – no one to make money.
     Disability/injury at work – loss of earnings through inability to work.
     Illness – those off work due to illness would not be paid and had the added costs of medical consultation and treatment.
     Old age — No income received if not working.
     No national social security system to protect people against the worst effects of sickness and unemployment.

    The poor of Britain received little help from the Government in the 1800s. The Poor Law of 1834 provided two types of help:
     Indoor relief – the workhouse, which was greatly feared.
     Outdoor relief – food and money given to those at home, but which carried great social stigma.

    However, many problems still needed to be tackled and the government was reluctant to get involved. The British Government acted according to the principle of ‘laissez faire’. This was the belief that the Government should not be involved in issues of poverty and hardship. Involvement would cost money, hence a rise in taxes – middle- and upper-class citizens would be paying to look after others.

    The poor were seen by the wealthy and by government funded by the wealthy and middle class as an unfortunate but inevitable part of society. “Poor people are made of inferior material…and cannot be improved,” according to Anglican minister Norman Pearson. Many Victorians struggled to understand and explain poverty. Was it because of personal misfortune, because of social circumstances beyond an individual’s control, or, the direct result of a person’s character, their laziness and stupidity? Were the poor, therefore, deserving’ or ‘undeserving’? Who was responsible for those who became so poor that they could not maintain themselves and how should these paupers be cared for? Another question brought up then and even today by historians is the part industrialization and industrial capitalism played in 18th and 19th century poverty – its nature, extent, and impact. In general terms, ‘optimists’ argue that industrialization brought higher wages, and a better standard of living, whereas ‘pessimists’ argue that the quality of life for workers deteriorated especially between 1780 and 1850, with only limited improvements for some skilled sectors before the 1870s.

    Because the operations of the Poor Law were so circumscribed and the poor were often unwilling to apply for relief, additional ways of dealing with life’s misfortunes became increasingly important. Almsgiving and charitable endowments already had a long history but from the end of the 18th century the number of voluntary charities gradually increased. Charity was directed at those least able to help themselves, such as children and the sick, while relief for the destitute was influenced both by the ideology of self-help and by evangelical religion.

    These placed an emphasis on the role of charity in encouraging moral regeneration and on the virtues of self-reliance and respectability. Like the poor law, charities sought to distinguish the ‘deserving’ from the ‘undeserving’ poor. The Charity Organisation Society, founded in 1869, at a time when outdoor relief was being further curtailed, was partly an attempt to ensure that charity did not undermine the intent of state provision. Their use of an early form of social investigation – visiting homes and interviewing the poor – was designed to link assistance to observable conditions.

    People were not necessarily helpless or passive recipients of state intervention in nascent welfare provision, nor were they simply the beneficiaries of groups with charitable intent. Formally organized mutual aid – especially the friendly societies (the most popular form of social insurance for the working man and woman) formed from the late 18th century – levied a weekly subscription on members and provided financial assistance in times of need, such as sickness and death. Trade unions, which grew more slowly in the 19th century, usually offered similar benefits. Co-operative societies beginning in the 1840s sought to provide cheap, unadulterated food for their members.

    The situation in the US mirrored that in the UK, only worse. The US lagged all the efforts of the UK to deal with poverty by 50-75 years. The religious aspect was more complex in the US and the principle of ‘laissez faire’ was stronger and nearly impossible to unseat or modify. But charitable and self-help organizations were more numerous and often richer than those in the UK. But the other side of this coin is that the belief that the poor were inferior in character and initiative and generally indolent was both more common and more strongly held in the US. And because the US was and is a nation made up of immigrants, hatred of the newest immigrants and particularly the poor of the newest immigrants was widespread and poisonous. Finally, the great issue that remains still unsettled even today – slavery and its aftermath – places African American poor in a category particularly oppressed, often involving one or more forms of physical violence, incarceration, and enforced poverty.

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