Dismal Reports From Two U.S. Inequality Studies

Stephan:  You read reports like this and, then, you listen to cable news and the Republican primary debates and you think to yourself: These two worlds have almost no points of tangency. These inequality reports describe a reality with which most politicians and most media seemingly have no familiarity.

The 1 percenters targeted by those leading the Wall Street occupation had a profitable run between 1979 and 2007. Their average after-tax income grew 275 percent in that period, while income for the 60 percent of the population in the middle of the earning scale grew by just under 40 percent.

That’s the news from a report published by the Congressional Budget Office this month. Researchers said an increase in the share of income coming from capital gains-profits made on investments-played a substantial role in the overall increase. And of course, all of this occurred during the period in which participation in the derivatives market-the favorite golden goose of modern investors-grew astronomically.

Meanwhile, German researchers ranked the U.S. as the 27th least ‘socially just

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Why Inequality in America Is Even Worse Than you Thought

Stephan:  I chose this report to accompany the one before it because I wanted you to get the context, and some of the back story of this research. This is our wake up call: We can no longer delude ourselves that our society is successful. To see the original German report discussed in these two articles see: http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=de&u=http://www.bertelsmann-stiftung.de/&ei=dh2rTqy2KsLh0QGgtJWPDw&sa=X&oi=translate&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCIQ7gEwAA&prev=/search%253Fq%253Dhttp://www.bertelsmann-stiftung.de%2526hl%253Den%2526client%253Dsafari%2526rls%253

There has been no shortage of headlines this week about the growing income and wealth inequality in the United States. A new study from the Congressional Budget Office, for example, found that income of the top 1 percent of households increased by 275 percent in the 30-year period ending in 2007. American households at the bottom and in the middle, meanwhile, saw income growth of just 18 to 40 percent over the same period

But less attention has been paid to the fact that not only are the numbers bad in America, they’re particularly bad when compared to other developed nations.

A new report (.pdf) by the Bertelsmann Foundation drives this point home. The German think tank used a set of policy analyses to create a Social Justice Index of 31 developed nations in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The United States came in a dismal 27th in the rankings. Here, for example, is a graph of one of the metrics, child poverty, in which the U.S. ranked fourth-to-last (click for larger size):

Daniel Schraad-Tischler, who authored the study for Bertelsmann, explained to me how the Social Justice Index works and why the U.S. ranks so low.

The U.S. ranks 27 […]

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Editor’s Cautionary Note

Stephan:  SR reader Damien Broderick has sent me some material about Rossi -- see yesterday's SR -- which gives me pause. It suggests that he has some criminal issues in his past. http://newenergytimes.com/v2/news/2011/37/3741appendix36.shtml. It would take an awfully ingenious scam to befuddle so many scientists, but it could be done. In the end Rossi will either commercialize this technology, as he claims or he will not. When it runs for months and months, producing over unity power, all questions as to its validity will be answered. Exactly what is going on in the process, may take longer. I post this note because part of my commitment to my readers is that I make available what I learn, even if I have to correct myself. It isn't clear that I have to here, but this is a cautionary note that I might. -- Stephan
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From the Cave to the Kennel

Stephan:  Here is the latest on one of the oldest relationships we human have had.

Chauvet Cave in southern France houses the oldest representational paintings ever discovered. Created some 32,000 years ago, the 400-plus images of large grazing animals and the predators who hunted them form a multi-chambered Paleolithic bestiary. Many scholars believe that these paintings mark the emergence of a recognizably modern human consciousness. We feel that we know their creators, even though they are from a time and place as alien as another planet.

Dog historian Mark Derr discusses the story of how man’s best friend came to be and how new scientific findings are changing our preconceived notions of the domesticated dog. He speaks with WSJ’s Christina Tsuei.

What most intrigues many people about the cave, however, is not the artwork but a set of markings at once more human and more mysterious: the bare footprints of an 8- to 10-year-old torch-bearing boy left in the mud of a back chamber some 26,000 years ago-and, alongside one of them, the paw print of his traveling companion, variously identified as a wolf or a large dog.

Attributing that paw print to a dog or even to a socialized wolf has been controversial since it was first proposed a decade ago. It would push back by some […]

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Bombings, Beheadings? Stats Show a Peaceful World

Stephan:  Here is some more good news. However, it also shows the power of a negative trend, the shift in news from facts to sensoids that distort and misrepresent for the sake of emotional response.

WASHINGTON (AP) – It seems as if violence is everywhere, but it’s really on the run.

Yes, thousands of people have died in bloody unrest from Africa to Pakistan, while terrorists plot bombings and kidnappings. Wars drag on in Iraq and Afghanistan. In peaceful Norway, a man massacred 69 youths in July. In Mexico, headless bodies turn up, victims of drug cartels. This month eight people died in a shooting in a California hair salon.

Yet, historically, we’ve never had it this peaceful.

That’s the thesis of three new books, including one by prominent Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker. Statistics reveal dramatic reductions in war deaths, family violence, racism, rape, murder and all sorts of mayhem.

In his book, Pinker writes: ‘The decline of violence may be the most significant and least appreciated development in the history of our species.’

And it runs counter to what the mass media is reporting and essentially what we feel in our guts.

Pinker and other experts say the reality is not painted in bloody anecdotes, but demonstrated in the black and white of spreadsheets and historical documents. They tell a story of a world moving away from violence.

In his new book, ‘The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has […]

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