Yet More Evidence That the Average Worker’s Getting the Shaft

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As those in the nation’s highest income brackets continue to see gains, we now find out that the median hourly wage for American workers (adjusted for inflation) has declined a full 2% since 2003, even as the productivity of those workers has increased. Will the ever-increasing struggles of the average worker have an impact on Republican incumbents facing midterm elections this fall? That remains to be seen, but anyone who thinks the economy’s not so bad for the every-man should think again. This summer Mother Jones detailed the many ways that, since Bush took office, the haves are getting more

-In 2005, there were 9 million American millionaires, a 62% increase since 2002.

-Only estates worth more than $1.5 million are taxed. That’s less than 1% of all estates. Still, repealing the estate tax will cost the government at least $55 billion a year.

-Bush’s tax cuts give a 2-child family earning $1 million an extra $86,722—or Harvard tuition, room, board, and an iMac G5 for both kids.

-A 2-child family earning $50,000 gets $2,050—or 1/5 the cost of public college for one kid.

-Public companies spend 10% of their earnings compensating their top 5 executives.

While the have-nots are getting even less

-1 in 4 U.S. jobs pay less than a poverty-level income.

-Since 2000, the number of Americans living below the poverty line at any one time has steadily risen. Now 13% of all Americans—37 million—are officially poor.

-Among households worth less than $13,500, their average net worth in 2001 was $0. By 2004, it was down to –$1,400.

-Bush has dedicated $750 million to “healthy marriages” by diverting funds from social services, mostly child care.

-Bush has proposed cutting housing programs for low-income people with disabilities by 50%.

The lists go on, with sources here and here.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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