Friday, August 27, 2004

Poverty and the concentration of wealth

Title: Nearly 36 Million Americans Live in Poverty
Source: Reuters
Date: August 26, 2004

From the article:
  • Some 1.3 million Americans slid into poverty in 2003 as the ranks of the poor rose 4 percent to 35.9 million.

  • The number of U.S. residents without health care coverage also rose by 1.4 million last year to 45 million.

  • The rate of child poverty rose to 17.6 percent from 16.7 percent in 2002 -- boosting the number of poor children to 12.9 million.

  • The poverty line is set at an annual income of $9,573 or less for an individual, or $18,660 for a family of four with two children. Under that measure, a family would spend about a third of its income on food. [See this post for a discussion of how uncomfortable life at the $18,660 level would be for a family of four]

  • The report showed real median income for all races was unchanged at $43,318 in 2003.
It is well documented throughout this blog that executive compensation is rising at a staggering rate. Meanwhile, the compensation rate for everyone else in the U.S. is completely stagnant. When you take inflation into account, it means that wages are actually falling. The number of people in poverty is growing. The number of people without health care is growing. The number of children in poverty is, quite simply, unconscionable.

These are the effects of the concentration of wealth. And we are seeing the tip of the ice berg right now. Unless things change, it will get far worse from here. See Robotic Freedom for details.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Incredible drug markups

Title: McKinney pharmacy sells drugs at no profit
Date: July 31, 2004

We've seen other examples of the effects of the concentration of wealth in the prescription drug marketplace and the health marketplace in general. For example:Today's article touches on the last part of the drug distribution chain -- the drug store. From the article:
    One of Texas' oldest drugstores [Smith Drug] is selling prescriptions at no profit to uninsured and underinsured customers, a move some industry experts called unprecedented.
An example given in the article is incredible:
    Carla Chandler's insurance covers three of her five medications. For one of the others, she called every nearby pharmacy and said she was quoted about $240 at one store. Smith Drug charged her $16.68.
If wholesale prices were visible, this kind of incredible price gouging would be impossible, and everyone would be better off.