The mush number, envy building, rabble rousing Associated Press

It’s sad to see journalism sink low by publishing mush numbers with no context. Do they do it on purpose? Or are they just stupid? Or both? And the government – that is – this current administration, hellbent on performing a radical wealthectomy on everyone they can get their greedy hands on – has magically “found” the exact numbers they were looking for, supposedly. Though, if Andrew Taylor of the Associated Press actually just used the government numbers without question, then, well, both the government and the reporter are complicit in the mush. It seems our man Taylor did not think things through. He and the government are “comparing” 1979 and 2007 – as if these two years have anything to do with each other.

For the demographics are different, and the population size is different, and the size of the economy is different – and the people within each cohort that they are trying to present is vastly different. Thus it is simply impossible to compare the two years without so many more qualifiers that it is well, impossible to compare them. So let’s try to “compare” them, and thus see that the whole point of the article – which is really to gin up support for Obama’s tax and spend frenzy – and his gifts of millions to people like Al Gore. He’s the recipient of nearly $1 billion in “grants” and “loans” from Mr. Taxpayer, for he knows best about business after a lifetime in politics, yes. Ahem. And boy, talk about your rags to riches story eh? Well, in Gore’s case it was silk rags of government wealth by daddy’s effort, but hey, he’s for the little guy, wielding his sword against the wealthy from his 7,500 foot house in Malibu. Yes. He is. Ahem.

The headline topping this morning’s Advocate is “Top 1% income climbs 275%” – yes, and so who cares? Within the story is that the bottom “20th Percentile” – well, nothing like confusing our already confused citizens by using two different measurements for the same thing. That’s like saying the “half gallon of gin went faster than the 1.75 liters of vodka”– it’s the same thing, by volume/weight, sure – but it doesn’t clarify anything. I hate when the press does this, which is often – how hard could it be to keep to the same terms – for aren’t we trying to measure the top 1% and the bottom 1%? Or are we comparing the top 1% to the bottom 5%? And how many of our public school educated people are not going to think that the article is referring to the bottom 20%? Oh yes, they will. So that’s mush.

OK, then, so the bottom cohort – the 20th Percentile – their income rose 18% – from allegedly $12,823 to $14,851 – from 1979 to 2007. Only what the article doesn’t quite say is that, oh, virtually every sports star started in the bottom and is now millionaires many times over. Oh, I’m sure a few started in maybe the next bracket up, or even higher – but it sure seems that sports starts of today were the rather destitute of yesteryear. So, all the sports stars are surely in the 1% – and leaped from one side to the other! – and if the cities and states hadn’t floated them billion dollar stadiums on the public dime they might well have had to take a pay cut so that they could play ball wherever their heart desired. No, we had the government create that wealth, eh? Are we now, we 99% going to demand that we get all the sports stars to take 90% pay cuts with the money going to we the people? Yeah, sure.

And let’s look at Steve Jobs and Bill Gates – they were both surely near the bottom in 1979 – and my how did their fortunes skyrocket. And what did the two men do? They created this wondrous technology that now enables even the $14,000 a year crowd to have an iPod, cellphone, computer and lord knows what other gadgets. And I dare say there were many other rags to riches stories – of people certainly at or near the bottom who did something and made money. Why, the Facebook boys started out pretty low down, perhaps at least middle class, but oh, my, billionaires at the moment. Ditto Google, Yahoo, Amazon, etc, etc. Ross Perot famously said he was down to his very last dollar, then, boom times came and he’s now part of the 1%.

Then there’s the Matt Damon’s of the world – a man grew up middle class, I suppose, and now he wonders “where have the middle class gone?” – well, sir, you got rich, dummy. You make $25 million a picture – you are the 1% – hell, you’re the top 1% of the top 1% – crème de la crème for our Matt, for sure. How many other actors, Brad Pitt, Tom Hanks, Robin Williams, etc etc, etc, got themselves up from little to nothing and have made millions? Now many are complaining about the wealthy from their $10,000,000 mansions in Bel Air and Hollywood. Nice work if you can get it, eh? But they too jumped from one end of the spectrum to the other. In 1979 they were broke, now they’re rich; the horrors!

Meanwhile, other fortunes, those up there in the 1% in 1979 – oh, my, they are no more. No more Vanderbilt wealth, no more Gimbel billions, no more Montgomery Ward millions, the Roosevelts and Fricks and lord knows who, all reduced to jobs. Even the Kennedys are down to their last few millions, and they too, are of course, for the poor, and direct their efforts from the family compound of mansions by the sea, whose views are not obstructed by the unsightly 300 foot tall wind turbines they want sprinkled over land and sea, except in their backyard, of course.

And what other rich folks fell on hard times? Why, Lenny Dykstra, former millionaire baseball player was reduced to trying to steal cars for a living. And Dr. J – ol’ Julius Irving himself is having to sell his trinkets and maybe even the furniture for the wealth was squandered. Mike Tyson – now there’s a guy who went from rags to riches right back to rags again. Rather quickly it is said he went through $300 million or something.

Something tells me then that wealth is perhaps a bit more ephemeral than what our Mr. Taylor of AP alludes to – he’s trying to make it seem as if the same people who were wealthy in 1979 are richer today – and that perhaps, the poor are poorer, though he can’t quite pull that off, because, well, everyone seems to be richer. And not just in actual income or cash on hand, but in the vastly cheaper goods and services relative to the prices of yesteryear. A computer of 1979 might have cost a million bucks, who knows, there weren’t many – now, a laptop could be had for a measly $300 – and with vastly more capability, too.

Meanwhile, in 1979, the economy was like $3 trillion or $4 trillion dollars in size, with maybe 220,000,000 people – and it was in a doldrums, a misery index of 21 or something, and the Carter years just doomed to the dustbin of history – for weirdly, nearly identical policies that Obama is doing, with, not weirdly, the exact same results. And then, by the time Reagan left office the economy was nearly tripled, and their was so much wealth it was incredible – and amazingly, almost all the fortunes of say, 1939 were gone, and there were all those new fortunes for our brightwads of today to measure from 1979, which are now, mostly, similarly gone.

Not to mention that because of inheritance taxes, or yes, the “death tax,” upwards of ½ the wealth that existed in 1979 was taken by the government – and virtually all the wealth of today is new. Hell, I’d say 100% of the wealth of today is new wealth – and that every bit of wealth that existed in 1979 is gone. Pan Am fortune? Gone. The IBM billions? Gone. The Kodak behemoth? Up for auction for pennies on the dollar. The Polaroid millions? Piffle in the wind. Indeed, it seems even General Motors can’t hang on to their percentile nor their wealth – at one time the largest corporation in America, now reduced to a sniveling carcass of a few lines of cars, propped up by, yes, government billions from Mr. Taxpayer that now the government is oh so concerned about.

Meanwhile, Walmart was a dinky one or two stores in Arkansas and now billionaire company despised by the envious. Woolworth millions are gone, with only a fine skyscraper left, so who knows what Walmart will leave behind to be remembered when they too are dismembered by capitalism’s wonderful ability to take wealth out of the hands of anyone.

And even the poor have changed – when back in the 1970s is was mostly African-Americans, just a decade released from 100 years of Democratic Party inspired and maintained Jim Crow segregation – and now, well, look at Oprah! The poor gal, now billionairess forever – well, no, her wealth will move to someone else eventually, too. But the black middle class has soared, and their share of the wealth way up – while the new poor are white, or Mexican. Indeed, the 20,000,000 Mexicans, almost all currently at the bottom have so skewed the reason for the poverty – Jim Crow versus new-immigrant – that there’s no comparison there either. And most other new immigrants, which we now have in numbers not seen since the 1910s, are also in the bottom rungs, for sure. Even if you say that ½ the people on public assistance today were on it back in ’79 – oh, no, wait, you can’t – Welfare Reform supposedly took care of that problem too.

What our current Administration and these press people – and of course the occupiers demanding an end to capitalism – fail to realize is that wealth moves around – and that people move in and out of being wealthy, and that everyone is wealthier by every measure, and that the purchasing power of this wealth has vastly increased. And that thus there is no true way to compare 1979 to 2007. And I dare say, that from 2007 until 2011 – during the Great Recession as people are calling it, billions and trillions of wealth have been stripped from the hands of the um, wealthy. Something like 7 trillion bucks in wealth have disappeared. And thus any alleged “percentages” that existed in 2007 simply don’t hold true for today.

And so, the headline is envy building mush numbers with a political agenda behind it – and not a shred of rational thought. It is comparing apples to oranges. It disingenuously supposes, through crafty avoidance of the fact, that the people in the bottom stay there, and the people in the top stay there. And the middle muddles along. Hogwash. The poor of ’79 are all richer today – up in the middle class – or the super rich. And the super rich of yesteryear are back to the middle, or even bottom, and the new poor are different, and the new rich are different – and thus there is no way to compare the two years, nor the “change” in the percentages of wealth held by this or that cohorts – for they were simply different people in different times in different circumstance.

And how the government couldn’t “find” this reality as they “found” this allegedly horrible income gap is utter chicanery for political purposes. Taking the wealth of today’s wealthy is merely stealing some former middle class or poor person’s new found riches. And it is not good for our nation. Which is why this administration has got to go. And I can’t wait for the internet to kill of the rest of the newspapers – and thus the Manship family, fabulously wealthy, since they own the newspaper and a TV station – is bleating after its own kind – they are stoking up the flames against them – which has got to be pretty dumb, no?

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