Monday, February 28, 2005

Wealth Charts

Wealth Charts

A set of useful charts. One chart states that Total Net Worth in the U.S. was $42.3892 trillion ($42,389,200,000,000) in 2001. The top 10% of the people in the United States owned approximately 70% of that wealth. The bottom 50% owned less than 3% of it. See also A Rolling Tide: Changes in the Distribution of Wealth in the U.S., 1989-2001.

Basic Income Guarantee

Title: Basic Income Guarantee Versus the Corporate Media
Source: Counterpunch
Date: February 28, 2005

From the article:
    How would a basic income guarantee work? Each month, every adult would receive a check from the government, for the exact same amount. These checks, notes the Citizen Policies Institute, would be "large enough to meet basic costs of food and shelter, and perhaps health care, but not so large as to undermine incentives to work, earn, save, and invest." The checks, likely "in the range of $400 to $800 a month," would go to everyone, working or not working, wealthy or not wealthy.
It is possible to imagine much higher amounts. See, for example, this article.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

The concentration of wealth at Applebee's

Title: Applebee's execs get $1.5M in bonuses
Source: The Business Journal of Kansas City
Date: February 23, 2005

From the article:
    Applebee's International Inc. has granted its five top-compensated executives a total of nearly $1.5 million in 2004 cash bonuses.

    The Overland Park-based casual dining chain (Nasdaq: APPB) will pay CEO Lloyd Hill the largest bonus at $554,500, the company said in a Wednesday filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
    Hill, whose salary was reported as $670,000 in the company's most recent proxy statement, will get a 2005 base salary of $800,000, cash bonus potential of as much as 125 percent of base salary, stock option grants of 141,000 shares and restricted stock grants of 27,000 shares.
This is the concentration of wealth at work. The CEO received a base pay increase of $130,000 -- 20% in one year. Did the rank and file workers see such an increase? Of course not. The cash bonus that the CEO received nearly doubled his salary. Did rank and file workers see a 100% bonus? Of course not.

Because of this trend, a small number of people in American society take more and more and more of the income, leaving less and less for everyone else. See This page for details.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Bill targets public broadband

Bill targets public broadband

From the article:
    A bill limiting Internet offerings by government entities is back for legislative consideration, and city officials said Friday they were working to keep the measure from affecting publicly provided broadband services.

    "We are collectively looking at that issue and hoping we can sit down as a group and say ... 'Guys, can we find a place where we can agree?'" said Gary Brinkworth, Tallahassee's utility director and a driving force in the city's wireless Internet canopy.

    The bill would stop local governments already in the communications business from acquiring new customers until certain steps had been taken.

    It would bar cities such as Tallahassee, Quincy, Gainesville and seven other cities in Florida from acquiring new customers for existing systems and make any other city go through a lengthy review process before it could start broadband or Internet service.
Government can provide wireless service to citizens far less expensively than corporations can. But government is being banned from doing so in many states by tiny group of large corporations that want to keep prices high. This is the concentration of wealth at work.

Monday, February 21, 2005

New ideas for providing social security

Title: A New Idea for Social Security
Source: LA Times
Date: February 15, 2005

From the article:
    If we decided as a society that we were going to put $2,000 a year into a savings account from the day each child was born until he or she reaches age 18 — and if we assume a 6% annual interest rate — each child would have $65,520 at age 18. (The worst return for a 25-year investor in the stock market from 1929 before the crash to 2004 was an average of 6% a year.) With no further contributions, again with a 6% interest rate, those savings would grow to $1,013,326 at age 65.
It is an interesting idea that goes a long way toward providing a form of financial freedom.

See also -

Title: Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
Source: NY Times
Date: January 16, 2005

From the article:
    As I write this I can imagine the chorus of pundits saying, "This isn't politically possible." Why not? Because it is too complicated for people to understand? Or because the only way to approach change in our society is through small incremental steps, like the president's tepid notion of a limited, voluntary diversion of Social Security taxes into small private accounts?

    Baloney, I say. What stands between a truly worthy aspiration for our society and its realization is political leadership with the courage to dream big.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

HP's ousted CEO receives $45 million

Title: Fiorina walks with $45 million
Source: CNN
Date: February 25, 2004

She was fired because she wasn't doing a good job, yet she gets $45 million as she leaves. From the article:
    Carly Fiorina, who was ousted last week as chairman and CEO of Hewlett-Packard Co., will have received $45 million worth in stock options and severance pay on top of her regular salary and cash bonuses after five years at the company, a spokeswoman said Monday.

    The $45 million is based on the current value of roughly $23.5 million in previously awarded stock options and a $21.4 million severance package awarded to Fiorina after she resigned last week.

    "It comes to $45 million or so," HP spokeswoman Brigida Bergkamp said. "This is just what she can exercise now."

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Holding three jobs is 'UNIQUELY AMERICAN'


From the article:
    MS. MORNIN: That's good, because I work three jobs and I feel like I contribute.

    THE PRESIDENT: You work three jobs?

    MS. MORNIN: Three jobs, yes.

    THE PRESIDENT: Uniquely American, isn't it? I mean, that is fantastic that you're doing that. (Applause.) Get any sleep? (Laughter.)
Meanwhile, the president gets 23 helicopters at a cost of $6 billion, and CEOs make $10 million a year.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Half of Bankruptcy Due to Medical Bills

Half of Bankruptcy Due to Medical Bills

From the article:
    Half of all U.S. bankruptcies are caused by soaring medical bills and most people sent into debt by illness are middle-class workers with health insurance, researchers said on Wednesday.
See also: Incredible drug markups

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

The president's helicopter

Lockheed Martin wins presidential helicopter contract

From the article:
    The $6.1 billion contract to buy 23 high-tech, high-security aircraft, is relatively small in the military budget. But it is emblematic of two important issues: the outsourcing of American jobs and the question of how open the U.S. military market is to foreign contractors.
$6.1 billion works out to about $60 that each American household will pay.

ExxonMobil reports annual profits of $25bn

ExxonMobil reports annual profits of $25bn

From the article:
    US oil giant ExxonMobil sealed its status today as a supreme money-spinner by reporting annual profits that exceeded the GDP of Syria.

    Exxon, the company that environmental activists love to hate, said net income in the fourth quarter increased to $8.4bn from $6.6bn a year earlier. That brought its profits for 2004 to a record $25bn, bigger than the GDP of countries such as Syria.