INCOME GROWTH HAS BEEN LOPSIDED in the recovery from the Great Recession. In the new Economic Policy Institute (EPI) report ‘The Increasingly Unequal States of America,’ Mark Price and Estelle Sommeiller find that between 2009 and 2012, the top one percent (1%) captured between half and all income growth in 39 states—a continuation of a trend that prevailed in the three decades before the recession.
I posted this chart on Facebook and a friend responded, “Our democracy is really special interests running everything and letting you think its run by the people’s elected officials. It’s really kind of a delusional democracy.” So I have a new pet term: delusional democracy.
Consequently, income inequality is on the rise across the country. This week’s Economic Snapshot shows that in Connecticut and New York, average incomes of the top 1% were more than 48 times those of the bottom ninety-nine percent (99%) in 2012. Even in the ten states with the smallest income gaps, the top 1% earned between 14 and 19 times the income of the bottom 99% in 2012.” (EPI)
Six degrees of John Guare
In 1990, American playwright John Guare wrote Six Degrees Of Separation, a play that ruminates on the idea that any two individuals are connected by at most five others. Although this idea had been circulating in various forms for decades, it is Guare’s piece that is most responsible for popularizing the phrase six degrees of separation.
“Six degrees of separation is the belief that everyone and everything is six or fewer steps away from any other person in the world, so that a chain of a-friend-of-a-friend statements can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps. No longer limited strictly to academic or philosophical thinking, the notion of six degrees recently has become influential throughout popular culture.
Further advances in communication technology—and particularly the Internet—have drawn great attention to social networks and human interconnectedness. As a result, many popular media sources have addressed the term. The following provide a brief outline of the ways such ideas have shaped popular culture.” (Wikipedia)
Guare wrote a script of his play for Hollywod and it was released in 1993 as Six Degrees Of Separation. Produced by Arnon Milchan and directed by Fred Schepisi, it starred Stockard Channing, Will Smith, Donald Sutherland, Ian McKellen, Mary Beth Hurt, and Heather Graham. And more than the play or any scientific theory, this movie helped make the six degrees of separation concept both widely known and popular as a game.
Six degrees of Kevin Bacon
There is a thought-game (nothing is required to play except the presence of some people and their brains) called Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon where two or more movie buffs challenge one another to find the shortest path between any named Hollywood actor and the seemingly ubiquitous BaconAnd believe it or not, Bacon may just be connected to everyone in Hollywood’s history by six degrees or less of one relationship or another!
A website called The Oracle Of Bacon allows you to type in any actor’s name and then the computer will attempt to link that person to Mr. Bacon within six degrees of relationships). 1
I typed in Elvis Presley, assuming there couldn’t be much of a link between the Elvis and Kevin. Here is the result:
1. Elvis Presley starred in the 1968 movie Speedway.
2. Speedway featured actress Charlotte Considine in a small part as Lori. Charlotte Considine is a pseudonym for actress Charlotte Stewart.
3. Charlotte Stewart played Nancy Sterngood in the 1990 movie Tremors which starred Kevin Bacon.
Voila!!! Too easy, so I tried Boris Karloff.
1. Boris Karloff starred in the 1963 movie The Raven.
2. Jack Nicholson had a bit part in The Raven.
3. Jack Nicholson starred in the 1992 movie A Few Good Men with Tom Cruise, Demi Moore, Keifer Sutherland, and Kevin Bacon.
Even easier! So one more that I thought might be more difficult: the lovely Merle Oberon. What connection could there be there?
1. Merle Oberon appeared in the 1967 movie Hotel.
2. Hotel also featured the veteran Kevin McCarthy.
3. Kevin McCarthy had a good part in the 1980 movie Hero At Large, which was Bacon’s fourth part in Hollywood as an unnamed teenager.
Enough!!! Bacon seems to be everywhere . . .
Six degrees of Richard Mellon Scaife
Richard Mellon Scaife is a billionaire and a principal heir to the Mellon banking, oil, and aluminum fortune. He is also the owner-publisher of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
“Scaife is also known for his financial support of conservative public policy organizations over the past four decades. He has provided support for conservative and libertarian causes in the U.S., mostly through the private, nonprofit foundations he controls. Scaife also helped fund the Arkansas Project, a campaign to investigate Bill Clinton’s past business and personal affairs.” (Wikipedia)
“Scaife’s tax-exempt foundations disclose their grants on the Web. Among them: $2.4 million over several years to American Spectator to pay for anti-Clinton reporting, even a private eye to dig up dirt. And millions more went to other anti-Clinton groups.” (CNN All Politics)
In “Troopergate,” Scaife surreptitiously supplied financial support (cash!) to those troopers willing to testify to the former governor’s shenanigans. In “Paulagate,” Scaife supplied Ms. Jones with spending money and paid for her attorneys.
Back in the ‘90s, Mother Jones magazine ran an article on RMS and his connections to the various Clinton “scandals.” It featured an illustration that could have been titled Six Degrees of Richard Mellon Scaife. The picture had him at the center surrounded by every major attack on or lawsuit against either Bill or Hilary Clinton. He was the hub for the “vast rightwing conspiracy” hat Hilary Clinton dared name and for she was so roundly abused by the members of that conspiracy in the corporate media.
Six degrees of George Soros
On the other side of the void, conservatives accuse George Soros of the same shenanigans, but with far less backing their claims:
“Soros is a well-known supporter of progressive-liberal political causes. Between 1979 and 2011, Soros gave away over $8 billion to human rights, public health, and education causes.
He played a significant role in the peaceful transition from communism to capitalism in Hungary(1984–89) and provided one of Europe’s largest higher education endowments to Central European University in Budapest. Soros is also the chairman of the Open Society Foundations.” (Wikipedia)
The conspiracies about his activities have been tagged ‘Anti-Sorosism.’ Of course he also donates to various political candidates, especially Democrats with a liberal lean to them. This is not quite the same thing as financing assaults on an opponent’s integrity through lies and innuendo . . .
Six degrees of the Koch Brothers
Charles and David Koch have accepted the baton passed by Scaife and are currently funding almost any and every rightwing movement and initiative imaginable. Without their backing, the ‘grass roots’ Tea Party would have died aborning. Like so many of wealth, hey seem to despise anyone beneath their station, but with an almost sociopathic simmer:
For decades, Charles and David Koch (the notorious nefarious “Koch brothers”)—members of the second wealthiest family in America [and] worth at least $80 billion—operated in the shadows of American public life. They were essentially invisible to the mainstream media. 2
In 1980, David Koch was the Libertarian Party candidate for vice president and helped fund that party. He campaigned on a platform that called for, among other things:
• ending all limitations on campaign spending, abolishing taxes on the wealthy and profitable corporations,
• shutting down Medicare and Medicaid,
• repealing Social Security,
• terminating the Postal Service, and
• doing away with the minimum wage.
All the while, the Brothers were pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into front groups promoting the so-called “billionaire’s agenda.”
“They want to repeal every major piece of legislation over the past 80 years that protects the middle class, the elderly, the children, the sick and the most vulnerable in our country!” – Senator Bernie Sanders
All of this brings me here, to a brief conversation between Ed Schultz and Bernie Sanders on The Ed Show (April 24, 2014):
FEATURED IMAGE: The illustration at the top of this page is by R. J. Matson for the St.Louis Post Dispatch.
1 “According to this site, “about 12% of all actors cannot be linked to the rest of the movie universe, either because they have appeared only in video games or straight-to-video releases that the Oracle doesn’t count, or because they have not appeared in any films with actors from the Hollywood mainstream.”
2 The inability of corporate media to see the Kochs for years was no doubt, to the brothers having access to a Klingon cloaking device . . .