President Barack Obama is expected to continue to focus on income disparity in his State of the Union address on Tuesday. As the uber-rich got uber-richer, the rest of us either backslid or got marginally better off. That shouldn’t surprise the president or anyone else. What no one mentions, however, is the increasing power of the political aristocracy over wealth. Will Obama mention the one percent no one speaks about?
As the federal bureaucracy has expanded control over energy, transportation, manufacturing, and labor, the middle class hasn’t benefited. The political aristocracy has.
A report at Cato in 2006, based on federal data, illustrates remarkable income disparity between federal civilian and private sector workers:
“The average federal worker earned $100,178 in wages and benefits in 2004, which compared to $51,876 for the average private-sector worker, according to U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis data. Looking just at wages, federal workers earned an average of $66,558, 56 percent more than the $42,635 earned by the average private worker.”
The taxpayer picks up the tab for the federal civilian work force. A recent report by the U.S. Dept. of Labor set the total of federal civilian workers at 3.2 million. Within that population are bureaucrats who write or subjectively interpret regulations that can be at odds with Congressional powers.
Furthermore, once President John F. Kennedy’s executive order unionized federal workers, the taxpayer lost representation as de facto employer. This of course has led to disparity, with one example the safety net on Obamacare costs for these workers compared to non-federal workers. The taxpayer will continue to heavily subsidize healthcare costs for this sector.
Other policies, largely based on progressive ideology, have led to record costs for electricity. We now pay 42 percent more than we did 10 years ago, and a sizable portion of the increase has to do with gerrymandering the alt-energy market while cost-friendly technology has not come to fruition. When energy costs rise, the cost of everything rises for both business and individuals.
In 2013 Bloomberg noted the cost of a carton of eggs jumped by 41.6 percent. No one has to tell you the cost of gas has risen dramatically; we note that every time we fill up at the pump.
As Democrats look to a major progressive support group, Millennials, to fund the health tax bill (Obamacare), that same population is hit with record unemployment, student debt and tanked housing prices.
Obama campaigned on hope and change. Some may still hope but the change hasn’t quite been what those who elected him twice expected as results of his economic policies show:
“A Pew Research Center study found that the wealthiest 7 percent of households grew 28 percent richer from 2009 through 2011. For the bottom 93 percent, collective wealth fell 4 percent.”
Democrats won control of both the House and Senate in the 2006 midterm elections. Although the GOP took the House back, courtesy of the government reform movement in 2010, Dems still effectively control the government by obstructing non-progressive policies at every turn, usually either by executive order or by legislative sleight of hand.
Meanwhile, the government continues to permit the import of undocumented workers who compete directly with domestic and immigrant workers. We have a labor surplus.
There’s an interesting passage in What Went Wrong?, a book by Bernard Lewis about the clash between Islam and modernity. If you read the passage carefully, it will occur to you that our Westernized approach to economic policy has in effect become Easternized:
“The difference between Middle Eastern and Western economic approaches can be seen even in their distinctive forms of corruption, from which neither society is exempt. In the West, one makes money in the market, and uses it to buy or influence power. In the East, one seizes power, and uses it to make money.” [pg. 63]
As a matter of fact, progressives have seized power by using the federal bureaucracy as a weapon, and that power is used to enrich the political aristocracy. Nothing will change until the market escapes the progressive chokehold that has led to near-record dependency on government and alongside the decline in disposable income, a tragic decline in personal liberty.
Obama’s SOTU will likely rely on the same philosophies he has held since his youth—that government is the power, the solution, and the saving grace of our country. Therein lies the source of income disparity as bureaucrats who have never made a free market dime in their lives control and redistribute wealth to those found favorable by the regime.
The U.S. population is around 300 million. The federal civilian work force is around 3 million. That work force and its power comprise the one percenters no politician discusses and no progressive activists make note of in terms of power and control over wealth.
(Commentary by Kay B. Day/Jan. 28, 2014)