Wednesday, March 04, 2009

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Concern over "class warfare" depends on which class you're in...


for full story, see http://www.latimes.com/business/personalfinance/la-fi-hiltzik4-2009mar04,0,1356927.column

by Michael Hiltzik
March 4, 2009
"Class warfare" comes in many flavors. There's the variety practiced by feudal overlords upon their serfs, and the variety waged by the Jacobins of the French Revolution against the monarchists.

Then there's the variety that Republicans claim to find in President Obama's proposed budget -- a taking from the rich to reward the undeserving poor. The rhetoric has spread quickly, moving from the libertarian Heritage Foundation to the ranks of GOP presidential hopefuls like flames leaping from tree to tree in the Angeles National Forest.

"Lenin and Stalin would love this stuff," says former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. "The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics may be dead, but a Union of American Socialist Republics is being born."

Yet the true class war of recent American history is the one that has pitted the upper 1% of income earners against almost everybody else. Over the last three decades, a period that spans Republican and Democratic administrations alike, average family income has scarcely budged an inch, while the wealthy have grown measurably wealthier.

In 1979, the top 1% of U.S. households earned eight times as much as the middle 20% and 23 times as much as the bottom fifth; by 2005, the Congressional Budget Office found, the upper crust touched 21 times as much as the middle class and 70 times as much as the bottom. Adjusting for inflation, the average American worker made 16% less in 2004 than in the 1970s, according to economist Benjamin M. Friedman....

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