Archive | 8:38 pm

Arthur Shmarthur!

12 Feb


I was switching channels this morning and happened upon the movie Arthur, staring Dudley Moore as a lovable drunken millionaire who lives in NYC. And the funny thing about the movie was that all of Arthur’s associates and relatives kept referring to themselves and each other as millionaires and I thought to myself, how quaint. They had millionaires back then who thought they were really rich! I mean really! By the end of the movie it was revealed that Arthur would inherit 750 million dollars and he and his fiancée and driver and apparently everyone else thought that was more money than a person could use. Can you imagine that?! Isn’t nostalgia so amusing?

But Back in 1981 when the movie was made there were only 12 billionaires in the USA and some 200,000 millionaires so Arthur really was among the elite persons of means. Today however, a mere 30 years later, we have 70 Billionaires in NY state alone and over 400 in the USA and over 5 million millionaires! I wonder what they do for a living because I know not one of them…do you?

Coincidentally, 1981 was also the year that saw the inauguration of President Ronald Reagan and the advent of “Reaganomics”  and it was President Reagan’s new way of looking at the economy and how to grow it and  it espoused lower taxes, deregulation, and entrepreneurism. And for the real “Arthur’s” of the United States it was just what the economic doctor ordered, but along with the rise of wealth in America, poverty  began to rise steadily again too  and today the nation’s poverty rate is 15.1%  with close to 50 million citizens living in poverty.

Today A minimum wage job of $7.25 an hour will bring you about $15,000 a year before taxes, placing you right in the middle of America’s poverty line. Imagine getting up every day and going to work, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year and coming home dirt poor in the year 2013…or perhaps you don’t have to imagine? I know a lot of these people and it just doesn’t seem fare that someone who works hard and who works every day, should still have to be considered poor and in need of financial help just to make the basic ends meet.

In fact since the 1980’s  the overwhelming majority of Americans have derived almost no benefit from the boom in stocks and real estate and 30 years of economic growth in the U.S. that Arthur and his ilk have enjoyed. In 1980, the average per capita income for  a middle class American was $45,879. Today, adjusted for inflation, that figure is $45,113… But for today’s Arthurs,  incomes have almost tripled since the 80s began and right now The 400 richest people in the U.S.  have the combined income of the bottom 150 million American citizens!

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