9 January 2017   Leave a comment

Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, and Gabriel Zucman have published a new paper with the National Bureau of Economic Research.  I cannot provide a link to the paper  that will work for everyone but the NBER will send you a copy of the paper (Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, Gabriel Zucman, Working Paper 22945, http://www.nber.org/papers/w22945) if one is requested. The paper looks at the distribution of income in the US since 1913 looking at pre- and post-tax income to capture the effects of government subsidies such as food stamps, etc.   Their conclusions suggest that the government re-distributional programs do not compensate for the loss of earned incomes:

“We estimate the distribution of both pre-tax and post-tax income, making it possible to provide a comprehensive view of how government redistribution affects inequality. Average pre-tax national income per adult has increased 60% since 1980, but we find that it has stagnated for the bottom 50% of the distribution at about $16,000 a year. The pre-tax income of the middle class—adults between the median and the 90th percentile—has grown 40% since 1980, faster than what tax and survey data suggest, due in particular to the rise of tax-exempt fringe benefits. Income has boomed at the top: in 1980, top 1% adults earned on average 27 times more than bottom 50% adults, while they earn 81 times more today. The upsurge of top incomes was first a labor income phenomenon but has mostly been a capital income phenomenon since 2000. The government has offset only a small fraction of the increase in inequality. The reduction of the gender gap in earnings has mitigated the increase in inequality among adults. The share of women, however, falls steeply as one moves up the labor income distribution, and is only 11% in the top 0.1% today.”

The decline in income for the poor and middle class is real and not addressed by current social and economic programs.


South Sudan was created in 2011 and is the planet’s newest country.  It was created in an attempt to stop the violence against the people in the south from their own government in Khartoum.  But the country has been plagued by violence since 2013 and almost 50,000 people have been killed and 2.3 million displaced.  The violence in South Sudan is largely explained by the political competition between two leaders, Salva Kiir, the leader of the Dinka ethnic group, and Riek Machar,  the leader of the second largest ethnic group, the Nuers.   The rivalry between the two leaders has continued despite the attempts of other African states to mediate the crisis.  It seems unlikely that the dispute will be settled soon.

Image result for map south sudan

Jewish Community Centers in Florida, Tennessee, Delaware, New Jersey, and South Carolina were targeted by bomb threats today.  Authorities have yet to determine whether these threats were coordinated by an individual or a group, but the possibility of a systematic effort to intimidate Jewish people cannot be discounted.  As such, the threats represent yet another danger to the American polity.  The surge of ethnic, racial, and religious nationalism in the US continues abated.



Posted January 9, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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