**In 2004, the U.S. Census Bureau announced that poverty rates in U.S. had increased for the fourth straight year and had jumped from 31.6 million people in 2000 to 37 million, including 13 million children.
**For the first time in our nation's history, the Forbes list of the 400 wealthiest Americans includes only billionaires.
**Real median earnings of full-time working males fell nearly 2% last year, according to the Census Bureau, while the real wages of working women fell by 1.3%.**Real median household income did manage to rise slightly last year, though that small gain was the first increase in household income since 1999.
**The number of Americans without health coverage rose by 1.3 million last year, up to 46.6 million, according to the Census Bureau. What's worse, more than one in 10 American children are now uninsured.
**The Kaiser family foundation says the cost of family health insurance, in fact, is up 87% since 2000.
**Prices for the most popular brand-name prescription drugs rose every year this decade. The AARP concluded prices for the top 193 drugs climbed 6.3% over the last 12 months ending in June 2006, while inflation went up 3.8%
I was pondering what I might do with this information (and Sam's suggestion) in an article that would be reasonably brief in length, coherent in argument, and intellectually fair and responsible.
That last issue --fair and responsible-- arises because not all of this can exclusively be attributed to the policies of American office-holders. Though the culpability of the "evil forces" that dominate Bushite America is real, it is not sufficient to say, simply: these bad things are happening, and this group is in power, and therefore this ruling group is to blame.
It's true that traditional Chinese culture interpreted earthquakes and floods as signs that the Emperor had lost the Mandate of Heaven, but I've never much cared for conducting our own political analyses on that same basis.
And I wasn't sure I was up to the job of connecting, in a responsible way, the various facts about the abuses of power by the Bushite regime --and by the larger forces that have created this regime, through the corrupt Republican Party, through the fascistic element that has ascended in American capitalism-- with the facts that Sam had adduced.
Then, over the weekend, I read an article in the May/June issue of Mother Jones magazine that provides, I feel, an appropriate framework in which to present those dismal facts about this growing inequality and economic injustice in America.
The article is entitled "The Predator State," and it is by James K. Galbraith. Here is an excerpt from that article:
"Today the signature of modern American capitalism is neither benign competition, nor class struggle, nor an inclusive middle-class utopia. Instead, predation has become the dominant feature-a system wherein the rich have come to feast on the decaying systems built for the middle class. The predatory class is not the whole of the wealth; it may be opposed by many others of similar wealth. But it is the defining feature, the leading force. And its agents are in full control of the government under which we live.
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