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Inequality in the USA and the UK

John Simkin

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On Monday, the secretary general of the OECD, Angel Gurria, addressing the Chinese Academy of Governance in Beijing, delivered a remarkable warning about rising inequality and the damage it does. He is not some socialist ideologue, but the head of a historically conservative organisation that traditionally preaches free markets and state austerity. However, recently the OECD has become alarmed at what is happening within the western societies it monitors, the soaring inequality and dysfunctional social fracture.

Drawing on the OECD's Divided We Stand report, he warned the Chinese not to follow the likes of the UK and the US, where the gap between the income of the top 10% and the bottom 10% has multiplied by 14 in the last 25 years. The experience in the west, he said, shows that social mobility happens least where incomes are most unequal. When young people's fate is fixed by their parents' fortunes, it "reinforces the vicious cycle of poverty". The widening wages gap and "the emergence of a 'winner-takes-all' culture" has been worsened by cuts in benefits as "low incomes fail to keep pace with the rise in earnings".

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Guest Tom Scully

In the U.S., the investment in propagandistic, hypocritical wedge issues and foreign policy incoherence has paid off handsomely. The continued vibrancy of Rick Santorum's presidential campaign and the relentless bashing of the bloodless revolution are compelling proof.:


It's the Inequality, Stupid

Eleven charts that explain what's wrong with America.

—By Dave Gilson and Carolyn Perot

| March/April 2011 Issue



CBO finds that, between 1979 and 2007, income grew by:

275 percent for the top 1 percent of households,

65 percent for the next 19 percent,

Just under 40 percent for the next 60 percent, and

18 percent for the bottom 20 percent.


September 2, 2011 Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs [Flag of Venezuela]

"Background Note: Venezuela


The Venezuelan Government dominates the economy. There is considerable income inequality. The Gini coefficient was 0.39 in the second half of 2009. According to government statistics, the percentages of poor and extremely poor among Venezuelan households were 23.8% and 5.9%, respectively, in the second half of 2009. Real GDP contracted 3.3% in 2009, indicating a decrease in government expenditures and private consumption as a result of a drop in oil prices. The economic contraction continued in 2010 when real GDP decreased by 3.5% during the period January-June 2010 compared with the same period of 2009. The Consumer Price Index increased by 27.9% from September 2009 to September 2010, following increases of 25.1% in 2009, 30.9% in 2008, and 22.5% in 2007.


Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs

October 2007 Background Note: Venezuela

...There is considerable income inequality. The Gini coefficient was 0.45 during 2006. According to government statistics, the percentages of poor and extremely poor among Venezuelan population were 33.9% and 23.2%, respectively, in 2006. These high ratios are due primarily to lower real wages earned by employees, and high rates of un- and underemployment...


Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs

April 2001 Background Note: Venezuela

...The government is hopeful that the economic reforms established in the new constitution would help stimulate the economy in 2001. The government is drafting new legislation concerning the conduct of the Central Bank, social security, land distribution, social security, and pensions. These laws are designed to meet the high level of expectations of the Venezuelan people who have faced declining real income for much of the last two decades. Although most Venezuelans still have a higher standard of living than their Andean neighbors, there is considerable income inequality. By Venezuelan standards ($700/month for a family of five), almost 80% of the population lives below the poverty line. The government faces a difficult task in meeting these expectations in a reasonable amount of time....

Data provided by the CIA indicates the U.S. is a failed state, at least under criteria used by the U.S. State Dept. to described the economic disparity of other countries. Nothing out of sorts here that cannot be remedied by prohibiting gay marriage and access to safe, clinical abortion services, is there?


North America :: United States

page last updated on March 12, 2012

Unemployment rate:

9.1% (2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 105

9.6% (2010 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 2%

highest 10%: 30% (2007 est.)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:

45 (2007)

country comparison to the world: 41

40.8 (1997)

Investment (gross fixed):

12.4% of GDP (2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 174

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