Category Archives: Equality-Inequality

Factoid: The WALTON Family of Wal-Mart fame (infamy?) has a combined net worth greater than the lowest income 120 million Americans

Really? Did they work hard for it?

Are they more deserving than the poorest 120 million?

Why do we allow this to continue? Whether the Divine Right of Kings or the peculiar institution of Slavery we eventually recognize the absurdity of such myths legitimizing perverse inequality. When will we finally see the myth of the inherent right of the SuperRich to dominate the rest of the country as the folly it is. Even if we are content to be the peons of today should we not act to liberate our children and grandchildren.


At the Heart of Most of Our Problems



This is not merely an interesting stat. This is the cause of many of our most serious economic and social problems. This is the answer to the questions “Why is there poverty?” “Why do millions of children go to bed hungry?” Why are 2 million people homeless in America?” Why do families break up?” “Why do governments serve the few at the disadvantage of the many?” “Why do low income children have a higher mortality rate than rich people over the age of 60?”. . . . 

Women’s Equality Now and Forever

A Republican Party official in Texas, perplexed by the growing movement for equal pay for women in the workforce, opined that rather than resorting to the law, women should merely learn to be better negotiators. The only reason for the pay differential between males and females doing the same work is the lack of negotiating ability among women.

I recall in another era serious editorialists with a slight Southern drawl countering the Civil Rights movement with a patronizing dismissal, “our Black folks are happier when unburdened by the cares and worry that accompany voting rights”.

Yeah, sure.

Discrimination against women, like discrimination against other victims of bias, has no basis in the absurdities propounded by those who defend the indefensible. People who do the same work, and apply the same experience, should be paid the same PERIOD.

My mother entered the business world as a file clerk, progressed to secretary, and then assumed the role and responsibility of a buyer for the purchasing department of a cutting-edge electronics firm that was later acquired by the once-mighty Control Data Corporation. After a number of years performing the function of a mid-level executive buyer, she sought the title and something approximating the salary. Her boss, who frequently turned over the department to her care when he left the office for his 4 hour liquid lunch breaks tut-tutted patiently, “But, Annie, you’re a woman. You can’t have a man’s job even if you are already doing it. It’s just not done”.

Mom already negotiated most contracts for the department, and then typed them up and signed them to boot. But prejudice being what it is precluded her from being paid for the negotiating ability she exercised on behalf of the company. The Law then had not caught up with where we are today, and today is still far away from where we should be.

My wife in high school sought to play basketball but was denied the court unless no boys wanted it. Girls could play only when the boys were done playing and then they were not allowed to form teams for interscholastic competition. Why, she asked. The answer? “But you’re a girl and it’s just not done”. Our girls were free to compete, and our grand-daughter is an outstanding athlete able to out-bat, out-pitch and out-field many of her male friends.

Women are not kept out of the executive suite or off of the athletic field because they lack skills, they are paid piddling less and denied participation due to sheer stupidity. It would be nice if people would overcome their prejudices but it is well past time for waiting. It is the 21st century, equal pay and equal justice is overdue. Now is the time and no later.


Worth Seeing, We Are Overcoming


The 85 — Too Few to Have So Much When Too Many Have So Little

Michael Parenti

The world’s 85 richest individuals possess as much wealth as the 3.5 billion souls who compose the poorer half of the world’s population, or so it was announced in a report by Oxfam International. The assertion sounds implausible to me.  I think the 85 richest individuals, who together are worth many hundreds of billions of dollars, must have far more wealth than the poorest half of our global population.

How could these two cohorts, the 85 richest and 3.5 billion poorest, have the same amount of wealth? The great majority of the 3.5 billion have no net wealth at all. Hundreds of millions of them have jobs that hardly pay enough to feed their families. Millions of them rely on supplements from private charity and public assistance when they can. Hundreds of millions are undernourished, suffer food insecurity, or go hungry each month, including many among the very poorest in the United States.

“The number of people living in poverty is growing at a faster rate than the world’s population. So poverty is spreading even as wealth accumulates. It is not enough to bemoan this enormous inequality, we must also explain why it is happening.”

Most of the 3.5 billion earn an average of $2.50 a day. The poorest 40 percent of the world population accounts for just 5 percent of all global income. About 80 percent of all humanity live on less than $10 a day. And the poorest 50 percent  maintain only 7.2 percent of the world’s private consumption. How exactly could they have accumulated an amount of surplus wealth comparable to the 85 filthy richest?

Hundreds of millions live in debt even in “affluent” countries like the United States. They face health care debts, credit card debts, college tuition debts, and so on. Many, probably most who own homes—and don’t live in shacks or under bridges or in old vans—are still straddled with mortgages. This means their net family wealth is negative, minus-zero. They have no  propertied wealth; they live in debt.

Millions among the poorest 50 percent in the world may have cars but most of them also have car payments. They are driving in debt.  In countries like Indonesia, for the millions without private vehicles, there are the overloaded, battered buses, poorly maintained vehicles that specialize in breakdowns and ravine plunges. Among the lowest rungs of the 50 percent are the many who pick thru garbage dumps and send their kids off to work in grim, soul-destroying sweatshops.

The 85 richest in the world probably include the four members of the Walton family (owners of Wal-Mart, among the top ten superrich in the USA) who together are worth over $100 billion. Rich families like the DuPonts have controlling interests in giant corporations like General Motors, Coca-Cola, and United Brands. They own about forty manorial estates and private museums in Delaware alone and have set up 31 tax-exempt foundations. The superrich in America and in many other countries find ways, legal and illegal, to shelter much of their wealth in secret accounts. We don’t really know how very rich the very rich really are.

Regarding the poorest portion of the world population—whom I would call the valiant, struggling “better half”—what mass configuration of wealth could we possibly be talking about? The aggregate wealth possessed by the 85 super-richest  individuals, and the aggregate wealth owned by the world’s 3.5 billion poorest, are of different dimensions and different natures. Can we really compare private jets, mansions, landed estates, super luxury vacation retreats, luxury apartments, luxury condos, and luxury cars, not to mention hundreds of billions of dollars in equities, bonds, commercial properties, art works, antiques, etc.—can we really compare all that enormous wealth against some millions of used cars, used furniture, and used television sets, many of which are ready to break down?  Of what resale value if any, are such minor durable-use commodities, especially in communities of high unemployment, dismal health and housing conditions, no running water, no decent sanitation facilities, etc? We don’t really know how poor the very poor really are.

Millions of children who number in the lower 50 percent never see the inside of a school. Instead they labor in mills, mines and on farms, under conditions of peonage.  Nearly a billion people are unable to read or write. The number of people living in poverty is growing at a faster rate than the world’s population. So poverty is spreading even as wealth accumulates. It is not enough to bemoan this enormous inequality, we must also explain why it is happening.

But for now, let me repeat: the world’s richest 85 individuals do not have the same amount of accumulated wealth as the world’s poorest 50 percent. They have vastly more. The multitude on the lower rungs—even taken as a totality—have next to nothing.

Michael Parenti is an author of note who is known for the classic text on political science and American government “Democracy for the Few”. His work can be found at This post was first published at COMMON DREAMS and distributed by PORTSIDE (See Links below)

Chris Hedges Interviewed by Abby Martin

One of the attractions of RT and Al Jazeera as alternatives to the run-of-the-mill Media is that they do serious interviews and stories on serious topics. Abby Martin’s program “Breaking the Set” is a good example and this interview with one of the DISSENTING DEMOCRAT’s favorite authors, Chris Hedges, is a refreshing change from the nonsense we’re force-fed . . . who is Beyonce dating? . . . will Lindsay go to jail or rehab ? . . . does Holland have a new mistress? . . . and what not.

You can watch the the second part of this interview at Youtube : WATCH PART II:…

Poverty Doesn’t Just Happen

Economic inequality is the cause of poverty. We will never overcome poverty until we take on its root cause in inequality. Peter Marcuse discusses structural issues in the economy which tend to institutionalize poverty:

Exploitation at the work place. Keeping the pay for workers as low as possible is an inherent part of running a business and making a profit: the lower wages are, the higher profits are. Employers are “job creators” only against their will; the fewer workers they need use to produce a different product or service, the better off the employer is. The high pay for business executives and dividends to shareholders are directly at the expense of the workers in their businesses. .

Exploitation at the consumption end. Increasing the demand for ever more consumers goods, of course necessarily paid for out of wages, increases the profits of the producers of those goods and the wealth of the owners of the firms that produce them. Inducing demand artificially, through advertising and the wide array of cultural patterns of the kinds long documented by sociologists and economists, supports the consumption exploitation of poor (as well as middle class) consumers, to the benefit of the rich.

Exploitation at the financial end. Where, after all, do extraordinary profits of hedge fund managers and bankers come from? Ultimately, of course, from the prices paid by the purchasers of the goods and services they are financing. Their interest and dividend incomes and high salaries are really based on the profits of those making their money from more direct exploitation of the poor.

Exploitation of the benefits of land ownership, an obvious and pervasive monopoly, paid, as economists put it, by rent not for anything that the recipient of rent payments has produced or done, but solely extracted by him through the possession of something in limited supply for which there is demand. Property owners and developers are among the richest of the rich (think Donald Trump), in large part because they are able to benefit from the speculative increases in the pries of land which they own.  Ultimately, those benefits are paid for in the prices consumers pay and the rents that tenants pay, a regressively distributive system enriching land owners at the expense of all others.

All four of these forms of exploitation are among the primary causes of poverty and, centrally, inequality.

Digging deeper into what a war on poverty ought to be about would lead to examining, not only how the poor might be directly helped, but also how the rich might be constrained in those actions that keep the poor in poverty. Digging deeper into how inequality might be reduced would lead not only to measuring the extent to which it is reflected in income inequality and be ameliorated by boosting the incomes at the bottom rungs of the ladder of opportunity but would lead also to the same concern for limiting the way the rich get to the top of the ladder to begin with.

The dispute between Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio over the financing of pre-kindergarten for poor children is a vivid example of the difference, Cuomo’s insistence on paying out of general funds, does help to alleviate poverty, but it also avoids de Blasio’s proposal for  paying through a dedicated tax on incomes over %$500,000 addresses inequality directly. Thus Cuomo may alleviate poverty but de Blasio aims further directly to reduce inequality, looking both at the top and the bottom of the ladder. Reducing poverty is much less controversial than reducing inequality, which confronts more basic vested interests.

Readers can take a look at Marcuse’s analysis at