(via the Telegraph)
The New York Times printed an op-ed today by a “longtime Wall Street executive” drawning on work by French economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez analyzing U.S. tax returns:
NEW statistics show an ever-more-startling divergence between the fortunes of the wealthy and everybody else — and the desperate need to address this wrenching problem. Even in a country that sometimes seems inured to income inequality, these takeaways are truly stunning.
In 2010, as the nation continued to recover from the recession, a dizzying 93 percent of the additional income created in the country that year, compared to 2009 — $288 billion — went to the top 1 percent of taxpayers, those with at least $352,000 in income. That delivered an average single-year pay increase of 11.6 percent to each of these households.
Still more astonishing was the extent to which the super rich got rich faster than the merely rich. In 2010, 37 percent of these additional earnings went to just the top 0.01 percent, a teaspoon-size collection of about 15,000 households with average incomes of $23.8 million. These fortunate few saw their incomes rise by 21.5 percent.
The bottom 99 percent received a microscopic $80 increase in pay per person in 2010, after adjusting for inflation. The top 1 percent, whose average income is $1,019,089, had an 11.6 percent increase in income.
Steven Rattner, Op-Ed, The Rich Get Even Richer, N.Y. Times, Mar. 26, 2012, at A27.
And the Business section reported a few days earlier that, although “Americans have never been too worried about the income gap,” now “tolerance for a widening income gap may be ebbing.” Eduardo Porter, Inequality Undermines Democracy, N.Y. Times, Mar. 21, 2012, at B1. The article also notes that when “inequality becomes very acute, it breeds resentment and political instability, eroding the legitimacy of democratic institutions.” Indeed, as Gar Alperovitz has pointed out
repeated studies have shown the majority of Americans know full well that something challenging and fundamental is going on with “democracy”: Four out of five in a recent assessment judged that “[g]overnment leaders say and do anything to get elected, then do whatever they want.” Another study found that seven out of ten felt that “people like me have almost no say in the political system.”
Gar Alpervitz, American Beyond Capitalism 1 (2005) (arguing for democratization of the economic system through varying forms of ownership such as co-ops, worker-owned businesses, community land trusts, and other social enterprises).
In the first data compelled by the Student Safety Act (Local Law 6 (2011) of City of New York) [PDF], the NYC Dep’t of Ed. has revealed:
City schools reported handing out more suspensions to students in the last year than before, but most of that increase was owed to a jump in less-serious infractions, while reported cases of egregious misbehavior dropped.
City Department of Education officials announced on Tuesday that the number of suspensions given students citywide increased to 73,441 in 2010-2011, from 71,721 the previous school year.
During this time, schools reported giving students fewer superintendent’s suspensions, which can force students out of school for six days or several months, depending on the severity of their actions. But schools reported many more principal’s suspensions, which can last from one to five days and are given for more minor infractions, like cursing at a teacher or cheating on an exam.
The city’s data show that black and Hispanic students are on the receiving end of most school suspensions. More than half of all suspensions were given to black students last year, though they account for about a third of students in the city’s schools. Hispanic students, who make up close to 40 percent of public school students, got about 37 percent of the suspensions. Nearly a third of all suspensions were given to special education students.
Last month, a report by the National Education Policy Center found that, nationwide, school suspensions for non-white students in grades K-12 have increased by more than 100 percent since 1970.
As poverty in the United States climbed to 46.2 million people last year – the highest number since the Census Bureau began publishing figures on it 52 years ago – “[m]inorities were hardest hit. Blacks experienced the highest poverty rate, at 27 percent, up from 25 percent in 2009, and Hispanics rose to 26 percent from 25 percent. For whites, 9.9 percent lived in poverty, up from 9.4 percent in 2009.” Sabrina Tavernise, Poverty Rate Soars to Highest Level Since 1993, N.Y. Times, Sept. 14, 2011, at A1. The increases were even greater in New York City. Sam Roberts, As Effects of Recession Linger, Growth in City’s Poverty Rate Outpaces the Nation’s, N.Y. Times, Sept. 22, 2011, at A23.
As was also recently pointed out, the Occupy Wall Street “protesters picked the right city in which to start their campaign. Among the 1 percent of American households with the highest income, a significant portion, 13 percent, live in the New York metropolitan area, with 4.4 percent living in Manhattan, according to an analysis by Andrew A. Beveridge, a sociologist at Queens College.” Sam Roberts, As the Data Show, There’s a Reason the Protesters Chose New York, N.Y. Times, Oct. 26, 2011, at A23.
A call by the New York Civil Liberties Union to return school discipline to the province of educators, rather than the NYPD:
the police force in the schools has increased by 35 percent to more than 5,240 people, representing the fifth-largest police force in the nation. (City schools employ approximately 3,000 guidance counselors.) * * * As a result, incidents of children being wrongfully arrested and mistreated by police personnel in the city’s schools are disturbingly common.
The Bloomberg administration has announced it now backs a New York City Council bill that attempts to re-direct city cooperation with federal immigration officials towards “deporting noncitizen criminals who pose a threat to the public, while focusing less on illegal immigrants who do not pose a threat.” Sam Dolknick, In Change, Mayor Backs Obstacle to Deportation, N.Y. Times, Oct. 1, 2011, at A19:
In a significant reversal, the Bloomberg administration said Friday that it would support a City Council bill that would hamper federal authorities’ ability to detain, and eventually deport, foreign-born inmates on Rikers Island who are about to be released.
… Corrections Department officials routinely share lists of foreign-born inmates with immigration authorities, who then take custody of, detain and deport thousands of people who had been charged with misdemeanors and felonies. The arrangement is common across the country.
The bill would not end the practice, known as the criminal detainer program, in New York City. But it would prevent corrections officials from transferring inmates to federal custody, even immigrants in the United States illegally, if prosecutors declined to press charges against them, and if they had no convictions or outstanding warrants, had not previously been ordered deported and did not show up on the terrorist watch list.
As a result, the immigrants would be released if they were not defendants in criminal cases, regardless of whether federal officials wanted them deported.
“The criminal detainer program had become the immigrant dragnet program,” Ms. Quinn said. “We don’t support that.”
The New York Times has a front-page feature on how the US, Britain and Australia have looked to “a handful of [private] multinational security companies,” primarily GEO Group, Serco and G4S, have turned expanded immigration detention policies in all three countries “into a growing global industry.” Nina Bernstein, Getting Tough On Immigrants To Turn a Profit, N.Y. Times, Sept. 29, 2011, at A1:
Some of the companies are huge — one is among the largest private employers in the world — and they say they are meeting demand faster and less expensively than the public sector could.
But the ballooning of privatized detention has been accompanied by scathing inspection reports, lawsuits and the documentation of widespread abuse and neglect, sometimes lethal. Human rights groups say detention has neither worked as a deterrent nor speeded deportation, as governments contend, and some worry about the creation of a “detention-industrial complex” with a momentum of its own.
… In the United States — with almost 400,000 annual detentions in 2010, up from 280,000 in 2005 — private companies now control nearly half of all detention beds, compared with only 8 percent in state and federal prisons, according to government figures. In Britain, 7 of 11 detention centers and most short-term holding places for immigrants are run by for-profit contractors.
… Companies often say that losing a contract is the ultimate accountability.
“We are acutely aware of our responsibilities and are committed to the humane, fair and decent treatment of all those in our care,” a Serco spokesman said in an e-mail. “We will continue to work with our customers around the world and seek to improve the services we provide for them.”
But lost detention contracts are rare and easily replaced in this fast-growing business. Serco’s $10 billion portfolio includes many other businesses, from air traffic control and visa processing in the United States, to nuclear weapons maintenance, video surveillance and welfare-to-work programs in Britain, where it also operates several prisons and two “immigration removal centers.”
“If one area or territory slows down, we can move where the growth is,” Christopher Hyman, Serco’s chief executive, told investors last year, after reporting a 35 percent increase in profits. This spring, Serco reported a 13 percent profit rise.
Its rival G4S delivers cash to banks on most continents, runs airport security in 80 countries and has 1,500 employees in immigration enforcement in Britain, the Netherlands and the United States, where its services include escorting illegal border-crossers back to Mexico for the Department of Homeland Security.