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Tired? Cranky? Hard to make ends meet?

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It might have something to do with the U. S. re-emergence as the most productive of the Industrial Countries. Sweden, with their socialized medicine and non–war society had beaten us out for the last couple of years.

Now, that is total productivity. When they look at it by the hour per worker, the U.S. was outperformed per hour by Korea, Taiwan, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Netherlands, Spain Sweden, and the U.K in 2006. http://www.bls.gov/news.release/prod4.nr0.htm The big reason for our regaining the title is that Americans simply work more hours than almost anybody else – certainly anyone of the top 16. It would be interesting to see how we compare to the average rural peasant in a variety of places

The View Depends From Where You’re Looking

In the first place, it is a stacked deck for most folks. If you believe otherwise, you’re eating too many Cheetos.

In the United States today, the wealthiest one per cent of the population owns more than the bottom 95 per cent. The United States has the greatest disparity of wealth in the entire industrialized world. http://www.commondreams.org/views02/0701-05.htm

The wages of American workers have, since 1978, and adjusted for inflation been flat or worse. The economic reality is that increases in the standard of living have come almost entirely because women have entered the work force in huge numbers, and households which formerly depended on one wage earner now depend on two.

American workers today work longer hours than workers in any other industrialized nation, even hard-working Japan. The average American works an additional 163 hours, or one month a year, more than the workers did in 1969. American workers get less vacation time than in any other nation. (Ibid)

You know those tax cuts for the wealthy, the ones that were supposed to trickle down by a higher level of investment and spending? In the next ten years, those cuts will have diverted an astounding $500 billion out of federal coffers and into the bank accounts of those who earn over $375,000 a year. (Ibid) Want to guess who will make up for that loss in income taxes?

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According to Business Week, the CEOs of large corporations earn five hundred times what their average workers make. Put in less arithmetical terms, they earn in slightly over half a day what their workers earn in an entire year.

The after-tax income of the average, non-supervisory worker in the United States is 15th among the 30 richest countries. http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/1105/p16s01-wmgn.html

The U.S. has a present population of a bit above 301 million. 35 million live in poverty, often while working. An additional 60 million live just a notch above the federal poverty line, which is between $20K and 25K for a family of 4 depending on where you live. Many poverty programs count 150-200% of that as qualifying. Around 22 million are on Social Security.

The employed in the U.S. is presently 146 million with 7 million unemployed (e.g. getting unemployment) and another 1.4 million looking but not getting. http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm

So, in round numbers, a little more than half the country is working, essentially full time. The other half are composed of children, elderly and disabled. Overall 95 million (or 1 out of 3) are barely making it, going hungry and/or doing without.

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!/3 of America is living hand to mouth in the richest country in the world during what are called great economic times! Pardon me?

The bottom 20% of U.S. workers earned less than $23,202. The top 6.37% of workers earned 1/3 of all income in the US! (2006). http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/STTable?_bm=y&-geo_id=01000US&-qr_name=ACS_2006_EST_G00_S1901&-ds_name=ACS_2006_EST_G00_&-redoLog=false

So, if you’re wondering why life is getting tougher, it’s simply because you are working harder, longer, and there are more of you dual income families trying to get where one income and 40 hours a week used to get you. Throw in a sliding dollar, an extravagantly spending government and $90 oil and you’d better start a garden.

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Christopher is a retired Mayflower family, Navy Vet, flower child, Mensan and a long-time rural Alaskan with a lifetime or two in Social Sciences and cross-cultural endeavors. He has a terminal graduate degree and is heading into his terminal years (more...)
 

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