Report: Gap between rich and poor in America grows

by on October 22, 2008 · 1 comment

in Economy, Media

By Emma Vandore / Associated Press / October 21, 2008

PARIS (AP) – The gap between rich and poor is getting bigger in the world’s richest countries – and particularly the United States – as children and low-skilled workers slide deeper into poverty, according to a 30-nation report released Tuesday.

In a 20-year study of its 30 member countries, the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said children and young adults are 25 percent more likely to be poor than the population average – with an even larger gap for single-parent families.

The OECD’s members are mostly developed nations, especially in Europe.

Gap Within U.S. Increased Since 2000

The United States has the highest inequality and poverty in the OECD after Mexico and Turkey, and the gap has increased rapidly since 2000, the report said. Meanwhile France has seen inequalities fall in the past 20 years as poorer workers are better paid. At the same time, retiree poverty has fallen in many countries, the report said.

OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria urged governments to address the “divisive” issue of growing inequality. He said they should do more to educate the whole work force – and not just the elite – while helping people join the work force and boosting incomes for working families, rather than relying on social benefits. “Greater income inequality stifles upward mobility between generations, making it harder for talented and hard-working people to get the rewards they deserve,” he said in a statement. “It polarizes societies, it divides regions within countries, and it carves up the world between rich and poor.”

Efforts by governments to curb poverty by redistributing wealth through social policies are becoming less effective as low-skilled workers find it ever harder to find work, the report said.

In the United States, the richest 10 percent earn an average of US$93,000 – the highest level in the OECD. The poorest 10 percent earn an average of US$5,800 – about 20 percent lower than the OECD average. Social mobility is lowest in countries with high inequality such as the United States, United Kingdom, and Italy, the report said.

Since 2000, income inequality and poverty have grown fastest in Germany, although it remains below the OECD average. In Britain and Japan, inequalities have been falling since 2000 – although the gap between the rich and the poor is still greater in the United Kingdom than in three-quarters of OECD countries.

The report covers the 20 years from 1985-2005, but the trends it highlights are valid through today, the OECD said.

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avatar Mr. King July 6, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Do we need a Referendum For A New Democracy?

Are you concerned about the future of democracy? Do you feel democracy is under attack by extreme greed in countries around the world? Are you sick and tired of: living in fear, corporate greed, growing police state, government for the rich, working more but having less?

Can we use both elections and random selection (in the way we select government officials) to rid democracy of undue influence by extreme wealth and wealth-dominated mass media campaigns?

The world’s first democracy (Athenian democracy, 600 B.C.) used both elections and random selection. Even Aristotle (the cofounder of Western thought) promoted the use random selection as the best way to protect democracy. The idea of randomly selecting (after screening) juries remains from Athenian democracy, but not randomly selecting (after screening) government officials. Why is it used only for individual justice and not also for social justice? Who wins from that? …the extremely wealthy?

What is the best way to combine elections and random selection to protect democracy in today’s world? Can we use elections as the way to screen candidates, and random selection as the way to do the final selection? Who wins from that? …the people?

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