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Excerpt: "Whenever growing income disparities threaten to come into focus, a reliable set of defenders tries to bring back the blur. Think tanks put out reports claiming that inequality isn't really rising, or that it doesn't matter. Pundits try to put a more benign face on the phenomenon, claiming that it's not really the wealthy few versus the rest, it's the educated versus the less educated. So what you need to know is that all of these claims are basically attempts to obscure the stark reality: We have a society in which money is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few people, and in which that concentration of income and wealth threatens to make us a democracy in name only."

Portrait, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, 06/15/09. (photo: Fred R. Conrad/NYT)
Portrait, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, 06/15/09. (photo: Fred R. Conrad/NYT)


Oligarchy, American Style

By Paul Krugman, The New York Times

04 November 11

Inequality is back in the news, largely thanks to Occupy Wall Street, but with an assist from the Congressional Budget Office. And you know what that means: It's time to roll out the obfuscators!

Anyone who has tracked this issue over time knows what I mean. Whenever growing income disparities threaten to come into focus, a reliable set of defenders tries to bring back the blur. Think tanks put out reports claiming that inequality isn't really rising, or that it doesn't matter. Pundits try to put a more benign face on the phenomenon, claiming that it's not really the wealthy few versus the rest, it's the educated versus the less educated.

So what you need to know is that all of these claims are basically attempts to obscure the stark reality: We have a society in which money is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few people, and in which that concentration of income and wealth threatens to make us a democracy in name only.

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+92 # Barbara K 2011-11-04 10:58
The wealthy got wealthy off the backs of the poor and middle class in this country. We made them wealthy, then they sent our jobs overseas. I wonder who they think will be able to buy their products when we are broke can have no means to buy their stuff? It is the economy that suffers, but then that is the Republican/teab agger plan. The rich get richer and the rest get nothing. We are now showing them that we have had enough. No Tax Holiday for them either. They can pay their damn taxes just like the rest of us do.

NEVER VOTE REPUBLICAN !!
 
 
+35 # flygalusa 2011-11-04 11:36
Our problems go far beyond Rep or Dem. This is exactly what "they" (the shadow government) want you to believe. We no longer have a choice, the bipartisan thing is just an illusion. Go to www.educate-yourself.org or check out david icke or alex jones (prison planet) Google new world order or the Rothchilds to read up on what is facing us. Much more daunting than just voting dem again. The votes are rigged anyway. The only thing we have going for us is our numbers. Time is running out so please take this seriously. These are the very people that assassinated JFK. He talks about "them" in one of his speeches as did Eisenhower.
 
 
+38 # Fair Elections Now 2011-11-04 12:56
You are absolutely right. We can't count on either party. We need a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United by declaring money is not speech, and corporations are not people. There's a coalition of organizations working on this. The time is right. Go to movetoamend.org and watch Dylan Ratigan on MSNBC
 
 
+20 # jwb110 2011-11-04 11:58
Quoting Barbara K:
The wealthy got wealthy off the backs of the poor and middle class in this country. We made them wealthy, then they sent our jobs overseas. I wonder who they think will be able to buy their products when we are broke can have no means to buy their stuff? It is the economy that suffers, but then that is the Republican/teabagger plan. The rich get richer and the rest get nothing. We are now showing them that we have had enough. No Tax Holiday for them either. They can pay their damn taxes just like the rest of us do.

NEVER VOTE REPUBLICAN !!


The wealthy always get rich on the backs of the poor!
 
 
-12 # dorianb@fuse.net 2011-11-04 14:38
Barbara,
There is not a Republican candidate who has the right solutions, attitude or concern for the people but neither does Obama. His hope and change rhetoric and promise to de-escalate the wars and secure a better way of life went out the window once he was elected. He's bowed to Wall Street like the Republicans and shown a distinct lack of concern for the impoverished, unemployed, seniors, and the middle class. His priorities and decisions has brought our economy down to a level we have not seen in decades as well as our credibility and respect internationally . It's time the "Obama Apologists" and Obama stopped blaming, pointing fingers and making excuses for him and pointed straight at Obama and said "The buck stops here." Whatever prior problems or current problems produced more problems is "de trop". The responsibility lies with the President and his first term as President has been a disaster not only because he failed to give the people what he promised them to get elected but because he took away the things they needed to sustain their way.

If Obama has an authentic concern for our country, he will step down and hand the mantle over to Hillary Clinton who has a much better chance to win the election and the additional experience and leadership qualities needed in 2012.
 
 
+13 # RSJ 2011-11-04 17:18
Dorianb, what you say would all be true if Obama had been elected king. Presidential power is limited and he has been stymied by Republican filibusters in the Senate, supported by Blue Dog Dems and Joe Lieberman, so he has been unable to get some of what he wanted passed without compromise. You may not like it, and you may accuse me of being an Obama apologist all you want, but those are the facts -- that's the way our government works. Hillary Clinton could not do any better with the current Congress. BTW, our credibility and respect internationally has never been higher. I don't know where you're getting your information (Fox News, maybe?) but you are badly misinformed.
 
 
+4 # Michael_K 2011-11-04 20:35
Quoting dorianb@fuse.net:
If Obama has an authentic concern for our country, he will step down and hand the mantle over to Hillary Clinton who has a much better chance to win the election and the additional experience and leadership qualities needed in 2012.


I hope you're joking! You'd be hard pressed to find someone with a colder heart and lack of empathy for any living thing except maybe her own family (and I wouldn't bet on that either). The woman is a criminal and an habitual liar. We need someone like Bernie Sanders and we need to shun all those who kow-tow to the self-fulfilling prophecy that "an independent can't win".... If we ALL vote for an independent, then the independent will win.
 
 
+9 # NanFan 2011-11-05 09:38
Agree, but we also need a Congress that is fully vetted by the people, rousting out the very people who are messing us over and claiming to represent us.

The presidency is not enough! We must coalesce and clean out the ENTIRE U.S. federal governance: President, House and Senate!

Let's "Occupy" that!

N.
 
 
+2 # Patch 2011-11-06 00:42
Dorianb, I agreed with you until the last paragraph. We would be in the exact same spot we're in now if Hillary Clinton were President. She's no better than Obama. We need Progressives and Clinton is NOT a Progressive.
 
 
+2 # Margolicious 2011-11-06 00:43
Hilliary Clinton is totally demonic. She was one of the nine "Demorats" that voted for the Bankruptcy Law that makes people that cannot pay their medical bills and single moms homeless. Hilliary is a rich stinky does not have a care about the poor and middle class and is totally evil. She works for the super rich and does give a damn about poor people. Hilliary and Bill are among the 2%. Her husband, President Clinton eliminated the last provision of Glass Steagall this contributed to the 2008 economic crisis. Clinton's trade agreements sent American jobs overseas and destroyed the working class.
 
 
+11 # CL38 2011-11-04 20:08
I don't think the wealthy are concerned about our buying their products --they'll sell their products in those countries where they've outsourced our jobs and get rich over there all over again. When they've sold what they can in one country, they'll move on to another and abandon those workers, too, just as they have US workers.

In other words, they don't care what happens not only to US workers who helped make them rich, they don't give a damn about the US, the COUNTRY that helped make them rich. If the US declines, due to their unscrupulous actions, they'll just move elsewhere.
 
 
+4 # Cassandra2012 2011-11-05 16:49
Quoting CL38:
I don't think the wealthy are concerned about our buying their products --they'll sell their products in those countries where they've outsourced our jobs and get rich over there all over again. When they've sold what they can in one country, they'll move on to another and abandon those workers, too, just as they have US workers.

In other words, they don't care what happens not only to US workers who helped make them rich, they don't give a damn about the US, the COUNTRY that helped make them rich. If the US declines, due to their unscrupulous actions, they'll just move elsewhere.


Yes, sounds like treason to me...
 
 
+63 # Erdajean 2011-11-04 11:03
Anybody "lucky" enough to have a job now knows that hard work just keeps that crimped little paycheck coming -- and the Boss getting richer. No longer does productivity reward both the work bench and the glass office. Worker, produce! Faster! Cheaper! No complaints! Or see your job go to Bangladesh and your kids go hungry.
We have reverted to the Old Plantation -- for too long without a whimper. And now the beaten-down and impoverished are likely to have a college degree -- or several. Plus, the cost of education will soon make degrees a moot point -- because nobody except the Oligarchs' kids can afford one. Which lowers the competence level of our professional classes -- because Oligarchs and their offspring are gifted mainly at turning a profit -- but maybe not so hot at heart surgery or orchestral conducting -- or at anything not focused wholly on Money.
Also, the dumber the population, the better for the Oligarchs. Witness the Tea Party's political choices for how that works --
We MUST DO SOMETHING! NOW!
 
 
+47 # mwd870 2011-11-04 11:31
The 99% know this is true. Keep the Occupy Movement strong.

"The larger answer, however, is that extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy. Can anyone seriously deny that our political system is being warped by the influence of big money, and that the warping is getting worse as the wealth of a few grows ever larger?"
 
 
+39 # m... 2011-11-04 11:48
Sorry to repeat myself.
We just spent 30 years pursuing one obsessive CORPORATE CONservative TALKING-POINT that became the umbrella under which America was transformed from Republic to Corporatacracy and the wealth and power of 'WE THE PEOPLE' was systematically transferred from 99% of AMERICANS to the 1% Global Corporate Wealthy Class.
The Talking Point--> 'SMALLER GOVERNMENT'
According to CONservatives, We The People ALWAYS need SMALLER GOVERNMENT.
Why is this such an accepted CONcept?
LOOK AROUND. What has the obsessive pursuit of LESS Government (of the People) through LESS REGULATION (of Corporations) and LESS TAXATION (of the Corporate Class) and the relentless for-profit CORPORATE CONTRACTING of almost all Functions of OUR Government into a millions bits and useless pieces actually brought to America besides the Edge of the Cliff?
Less Taxation of the Wealthy Class simply equates to the starvation of OUR Government on their behalf. Relentless Deregulation Schemes render OUR Government impotent to act on OUR behalf and has also led to the fact that almost all Media in America is now owned and exploited by just a very few GLOBAL Corporations which seem to view the control of information as a useful way to gain even more wealth and power at the expense of OUR Republic.
SMALLER GOVERNMENT IS THE BIGGEST FLIM FLAM IN WORLD HISTORY
 
 
+22 # BradFromSalem 2011-11-04 12:31
Not to be trite....

Everything these Republican fools say are either lies, misrepresentati ons, without any basis in logic or fact, or all of the above.
 
 
+4 # Michael_K 2011-11-04 20:37
True, but it really doesn't help that there are so many DINOs who help them spread the stupidity.
 
 
+22 # JohnCDurham 2011-11-04 13:04
The only possible reason to reduce the power and reach of Government is so the financial criminals can loot more and faster. Our only real protection against predatory Capitalism is our Government. So it is Government that is vilified. Fools invest into an anti-government concept.

I know first hand about that, having come out of the Right Wing of the Republican Party, leaving it in 1979. Today, I support Buddy Roemer, the most Leftist of all those in any party running for President.
 
 
+10 # Erdajean 2011-11-04 17:35
Thank you, John Durham. Nothing enlightens a person about the ways of the Right half as appallingly as having been part of it. Thus some of the most dedicated elder soldiers in the current Army of Conscience came of age, politically, in the Goldwater camp -- then, as now, looking for solid, honest, democracy-servi ng leadership. In the South we thought a "two-party system" would be great for us, and for the country. Neither aim came to pass, of course -- we cringed through Nixon, and then, Lord forgive, came Reagan -- where many of us jumped ship. And again, "change" brought us another one-party South -- and what a dim-bulb bitch THAT turned out to be!
Truly nobody knows the wages of sin like the penitent sinner. The aim is still the same -- honest government by and for the people, though it sure gets more elusive all the time.
 
 
+6 # CL38 2011-11-04 20:02
If you haven't already, read John Dean's "Conservatives without Conscience"
 
 
+4 # RSJ 2011-11-05 18:12
Erdajean, at the end of his life in 1998, Barry Goldwater, called the 'father of modern conservatism,' said he didn't recognize the Republican Party anymore. He didn't believe in mixing politics and religion, or using racial code words to appeal to bigots, or violating the Constitution to ship weapons to our enemies, and he fully supported women's rights and the decriminalizati on of marijuana. His son Barry Jr said he would likely be an independent or even a Dem these days. That's how far the GOP has come since Goldwater ran for president in 1964. I think if Barry were alive today, he very well might be down in the streets with the OWS.
 
 
+32 # CL38 2011-11-04 11:55
Thank you for being a voice of sanity.

Just as "a reliable set of defenders tries to bring back the blur", we, the 99%, need people like you, Mr. Krugman, Robert Reich, Bernie Sanders, Michael Moore, Elizabeth Warren, Al Gore, Robert Redford, Russ Feingold and many others to appear TOGETHER at OWS sites and elsewhere, to hold conferences and strategy meetings and keep speaking out and planning for future actions, just as the right consistently does.

As we see with OWS, there is great power in united voices repeatedly naming the abuses perpetuated by the right in taking over our democracy.

They can't put ALL of us in jail.

Thank you for everything you do!
 
 
+29 # BradFromSalem 2011-11-04 11:58
The cover story that the Republicans have been using is that the 99% have declared war on the 1%. This war, they say is demonstrable by the constant complaint from the 99% of all that money in the hands of the 1% is unfair. "What would be fair?", they ask. When they know damn well that absolute fairness is a flat distribution of all wealth. Every 1 Million dollars is spread out to 1 Million persons.

That, of course, is not a desirable outcome; and not a goal of any rational "Complaining Warrior for the 99".

The issue is before the rich get their money. It is the process where they are allowed to collect salaries beyond what even the rich themselves would say thay are worth.

The issue is the tax code that does nothing to reign in runaway inflation of wages at the top and a coinciding runaway deflation of salaries at the bottom. This is in fact a critical function of a progressive tax code and what makes it fair.

What is a fair number? Its like porn, I will know it when its not fair. And the salary distribution model and its supporting tax code in America is absolutely pornographic.
 
 
+4 # Cassandra2012 2011-11-05 16:53
A bonus or salary for the 1% of more than 425 times the salary of worker in that 1%'s organization/ company is obscene, for sure!
 
 
+13 # Zagreus 2011-11-04 12:09
I am tired of our current President and our current Congress capitulating to the Oligarchy. Every four years a new President come into office, and every four years, all the President does is work for the rich and for the war machine.

There comes a time in the life of any man when he can no longer stand the cant of hypocrisy, or stand by the door while the legions of robbers trample down the fair fields, and pillage and destroy all that has ever been dear to him, and trample down and defile the temples of beauty and honesty and Truth. It is in times like these that he must stand up alone, and make restoration to the People for what has been stolen from their Land.

I am not about Hope. I am about Deliverance.

We can't have Change when we have no change.

We have proved that we can manifest positive political change in Middle Eastern countries using Facebook.
Now YOU can help ME restore the sacred truths of OUR Constitution, and rebuild OUR Great Nation
into a place of Peace and Honor beneath the Sun, where every Citizen can flourish in the pursuit of their own happiness,
for we are a country of Dreams, who once made those dreams a reality. Help me restore that Reality.
Make me your President in 2012.
Come see me on facebook, at Nicholas Pierotti for President 2012
 
 
+22 # Todd Williams 2011-11-04 12:25
Do you believe in history repeating itself? I do. Look at Russia in 1917. All power was concentrated in the hands of the aristocracy and the Czar. What happened there? Do the powerful elite here really believe that they can escape a similar fate? Are they that naive or just too complacent. Unlimited wealth makes people believe they are untouchable. Did Batista ever see himself disposed by a ragtag army led by Fidel, who by the way, has outlasted 10 U.S. presidents. What about Ho Chi Minh? He defeated the French and the U.S. All aristocracies eventually fail. Are we on that road now? Think about it.
 
 
+13 # Redroses 2011-11-04 12:28
The really wealthy I know and go to for donations to good causes, are no longer running companies, hiring people or shipping jobs overseas. They're retired. It may have been years since they worked at paying jobs. They do volunteer work. It would not hurt them to pay the same percent of taxes the rest of us pay.
Think of the many wealthy women who are widows. Generally they work hard at their charities but they may have never had a paying job. They are not in the mainstream going to offices, or hiring anyone other than a maid, a cook, nannies and lawn people. Even those in the 99% do some of that now. Their club memberships cost no more than any of the other members.
No matter how rich you are, you just eat three meals a day.
These people will not be hurt by paying more taxes. And they certainly won't be hurting the economy. They may well not be helping the economy that much more than the rest of us.
 
 
+20 # David Starr 2011-11-04 12:30
I would have to agree with the poster m...'s last statment; particularly in that the Right's propounding of "limited" or "smaller" government has been, & is, essentially a con game where a few are way more free than many. Government, & thus the public taxpayers, is used & abused in prioritizing elitist, private privilege & speculation. Further, this is protected by subsidizing an already overbloated military budget & security apparatus, both of which have gone beyond the idea of selfdefense.
 
 
+24 # Texas Aggie 2011-11-04 12:46
Louis Brandeis comes to mind: "We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few. But we can't have both."

It's obvious what the republican leadership has chosen. Now it is up to the rest of us to see to it that they are taken down. Despite what people say about both parties being the same, if Cantor, Demint, the two Kings, McConnell and similar individuals were not in Congress, things would be a lot different.
 
 
+20 # elbows 2011-11-04 13:15
The difference between collapse and survival is resilience, the ability to recover quickly from a potentially negative change in circumstances. Ecological studies have taught us that diversity is a crucial structural element of resilient systems -- one part may suffer or disappear but other parts persist and in time fill in the opened niche. From that aspect, the problem with our current economic structure is its lack of diversity. We've gone from hundreds of medium-to-large banks and scores of medium-to-large brokerage houses to half-a-dozen combined behemoths all deemed too large to fail. "Break up the banks" is not class warfare but a survival cry from an endangered system.
 
 
+17 # Rara Avis 2011-11-04 13:58
You can't have equal opportunity in a nation when there is such a staggering divide between a small group of people with such wealth and power and the rest of us. Worse yet, the great multi-national corporations have turned their eyes elsewhere to make the big profits. The American market itself is declining in importance.
 
 
+21 # Carolyn 2011-11-04 14:55
Thank you, Paul Krugman, at last, for speaking the truth about what American has become -- an oligarchy. Words like oligarchy and Glass-Steagall have not been spoken. Once they are spoken, they can be addressed. It seems to me that it's like having a doctor tell me as a patient what is troubling me, why I hurt so much. Treatment can be prescribed and the process of healing follows
I don't have to be an historian to remember studying about the Roman Empire. As I am very old, I can recall the struggles against the British Empire. My understanding of life was forever touched by Hitler. Power over the many, in the hands of the few.
In a recent book by Peter Kingsley, "A Story Waiting to Pierce You", I learned that cultures are seeded. Our American culture was an experiment seeded by enlightened men. it's our turn now to bring in a new culture of compassion, as the Dalai Lama affirms and as Rabbi Michael Lerner, here in America, also affirms, and many others. We are now speaking of what really makes a difference to every one of us, in our lives, here on earth -- values
 
 
+7 # dorianb@fuse.net 2011-11-04 17:39
Thank You, Carolyn for a powerful and meaningful comment. We need a strong and brilliant humanitarian to begin the healing. Do you have any ideas about who that be
 
 
+15 # Buddha 2011-11-04 16:43
More amazing that this wealth and income disparity is how the current GOP are pushing policies that create an "economic royalist" Oligarchy...red ucing the means of wealth generation for the SuperRich (cap gains and dividends) from its already way-too-low 15% to 0%, ending the "death tax", etc., and shifting the tax burden even moreso on those who actually earn a paycheck. The question is how well these plans can be shown for exactly what they are. Way too many mainstream Dems are members of that 1% class themselves, and have been only too happy to extend the tax breaks for the rich, cave on trimming Social Insurance, pushing "Free Trade" bills to send more Middle-Class jobs overseas, etc.
 
 
+11 # mjc 2011-11-04 17:50
Republicans and some Democrats pretend that the gap between the very wealthy and the poor isn't really a problem. There are many in this country dedicated to NOT allowing that gap to narrow significantly no matter what they say. It is easier for an oligarchic few to make the important decisions, such as which war we are going to engage in this year or whether we will allow opponents either worldwide or in our country. Real democracy is messy and if there really is a free press that exists one can't count on one's smiles and energy to win every election. Elections themselves are only a beginning at any rate. The difficult time comes with trying to establish your democratic values against those who don't believe in such. Perhaps...perha ps that is what happened to Barack Obama. It is so much easier to go with those who have all the experience, and money and power, than try to challenge them.
 
 
+4 # Zagreus 2011-11-05 10:13
Americans are always told by the media, the Republicans, right-wing Democrats, and Tea Party defeatists that Government is broken. Government is NOT broken. It’s just been hijacked. It’s the bought-and-paid -for puppets of Wall Street in the Congress and in the White House that are robbing our future to fill their bank accounts. And it’s the two-party system that’s broken. The Presidential relationship with Congress has become a seesaw in which legislation passed by one Congress is undone by the next.
And now we have Wall Street puppets in the White House and Congress

I want to fill the Congress with factory workers and Wall Street occupiers, line cooks and laborers, schoolteachers and homemakers; people who carry a lunch box to work and who pack that lunch box so that a worker can eat while they slave for Obama and Wall Street; folks who work two jobs to make ends meet. People who know what it is to live paycheck to paycheck, or with no paycheck at all.
come see me on FB at Nicholas Pierotti for President 2012
 
 
+3 # noitall 2011-11-05 10:28
As long as we're having to search through the internet for something that rings truthful to our common sense, we are in a losing battle. Our "BATTLE" depends on people learning the truth and hearing it everywhere because what we need to turn this tanker is NUMBERS OF PEOPLE. Hoards, like we see in France when they try to cut THEIR health care. We are seeing bits of that but we need to see THAT everywhere! Gang the newspapers and radio stations. In most towns, the newspapers have nothing on the 'occupations' in their town. Therefore, the local people are able to look at the movement as 'oh, it's just THOSE people again..." not realizing that they are those. We need to focus on this and on educating and recruiting people to fill their 2-square-feet of space in the street. It is this visual 'vote' that will make local and national 'representative s' respond. They respond to fear, fear for their job (of doing the 'good' work for US). They justify their means by accomplishing their ends, they stay in office; they keep their job. We aren't keeping OUR jobs because our 'representative s' are too set on doing what they need to do to keep THEIR job. Learn, educate, recruit, get in the street (for whatever time you an afford, 1 min, 1 hr., 1 day, 1 week, 1 duration. get you and your friends and relatives out there! Learn and educate. You need to do it, those with the job to do it aren't.
 
 
+3 # JCM 2011-11-05 15:15
So many of you who don't like Obama think as though he acts in a vacuum… He, as the President, can only do so much. The opposition he has to stand up to is nearly insurmountable. There were plenty of his compromises I hated too but if a Republican becomes president or they take over congress, there will be no compromises at all. And you are only thinking of the decisions you didn’t like, Obama got through many laws and provisions that truly benefitted the country. Obama is the only electable democrat we have at this point. We must stand up for him and support him. Yes it might be the lesser of two evils, but the other evil will destroy this country. You have to accept this political reality or we all suffer. Ralph Nader got Bush elected. Do you want to repeat history?
 
 
+5 # forthepeople 2011-11-05 16:41
Once again, thank you Mr. Krugman for that unfashionable statement of truth. Had Obama lived up to his early notices and appointed you, Stieglitz and Reich to his economic team, instead ofr the Wall Street insiders he cozied up to, we would not be where we are. It's not a questions of a lesser of evils, the Republicrats have destroyed our democracy and the big O has proven himself the enabler in chief.
 
 
0 # ronaldfa 2011-11-08 14:30
Well we just blame the Rethuglican, we have enough Blue Dog Democrats that fall in line!
Super Commitee, Max Bachus give me a break!
 

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