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Political party and patterns of income inequality

bringiton's picture

The Republican party is an organized crime cartel that has been systematically stealing money from hard-working Americans and stuffing it all into the pockets of the very rich for 40 years.

Yes, as through this world I've wandered
I've seen lots of funny men;
Some will rob you with a six-gun,
And some with a fountain pen.

Pretty Boy Floyd
Woodie Guthrie

Lambert’s favorite economic distribution slide tells a major part of the story,

income distribution inequality

but does not explicitly reveal the full measure of blame due to the policies of the modern Republican Party. Based on Census Bureau data, Larry Bartels has constructed a comparison of change in gross family income by quintiles under Republican and Democratic Presidencies from 1948 (when data collection started) to 2001:

web gross income distribution by presidency 1948_2001

Full explanation and details can be found here and here. Extending the data through 2005 in his new book, The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age shows that under Bush, everything got worse for almost everyone.

web gross income distribution by presidency 1948_2005

Breaking down the data this way demonstrates a couple of things. Contrary to conventional wisdom, Democratic administrations are just as beneficial to high income families as are the Republicans. What happens under Republican rule is that everyone who is not in the highest income bracket suffers from diminished income growth and, as the uppermost chart shows, that income is shifted to the pockets of the top 1%.

From a gross income economic standpoint, almost everyone does better over time with Democratic governance. What Republicans have been successful at electorally is driving people to vote against their own economic interests in subjugation to fear and bigotry, while lying about the economic theft. The MSM are probably correct to treat the general populace as largely unable to follow discussions of technical “down in the weeds” policy, and perhaps progressive political bloggers should – to some degree – follow suit.

A presidential campaign focused on the clear truth that “Republicans Are Stealing Your Money” may be the best approach to getting voter’s attention.

Bartels’ work is further discussed by Henry Farrell at Crooked Timber, Dani Rodrik and Kathy G. who is also on a bit of a tear discussing the overall issue of economic inequality.

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Submitted by lambert on

And it deserves wide propagation (unless everyone jumps on board with the winner, of course).

I wondered about the causation. Of course the Republicans are stealing my money. But I have to wonder if the Republican increase is due to the South /Sunbelt achieving income parity with the rest of the country. Correlation, cause...

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

hypnot's picture
Submitted by hypnot on

Do these charts support the idea that we just can't afford to support the rich anymore? They have been perversely entertaining in some ways, but disastrous as managers of their lives as well as everyone else's.

If the Democrats have been as effective as the Republicans at supporting them in style, what are we to make of the imbalance of their gratitude? A strong case could be made that the Democrats have been better at supporting them over the long term, while Republicans have repeatedly and disastrously failed to curb their short-term greed.

The concentration of wealth shows the inequity more clearly than income levels, correct? Do we have a clawback plan yet?

Submitted by lambert on

I love that talking point, hypnot. Ties right in to the Bear Stearns (BS...) bail out.

(I believe there are studies that inversely correlate life expectancy to income inequality; and then there are the studies that prove, or purport to prove, that bourgeios values propagated in the UK because, well, the richer you were, the more kids you got to have. Strange to see evolution happening, in real time, with money as a key survival indicator, if that was going on. (Of course, you have to ask yourself what the entity reproducing itself is; the rich, or the entity whose nerves and sinews are the money and data flows. Cf. Col 1:16))

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Submitted by lambert on

Via Kevin Drum, from the same source. Bottom line is that the Republicans game the economy in election years, so that people's immediate perceptions obscure the long term trends.

This year, however, gaming the system means preventing the Big Shitpile from taking the whole economy, and us with it, back to 1929. That's probably not going to be enough for them to win...

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

For the excursion above the Corrente Line. Heady atmosphere, feeling slightly dizzy.

Who created the 1% chart? Right thing I think to embed the reference. Combined with Bartel’s graphs the picture is pretty damning.

Not sure where you’re going with the question about the South/Southwest. What has happened is that the maniacally greedy continue to be maniacally greedy unless they are reigned in somehow. While there is some regional shifting around of the leftovers, the rich get richer regardless of where they live. There are some state-by-state income graphs out there; maybe I’ll put those up for the record here as well. Leah has promised a big post on economic inequality, maybe they’ll be helpful.