the increasingly unequal states of america

Es­ti­mated reading time is 6 min­utes.

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.

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)

John Guare. 215I-012-013 New York City, NY, USA 1991







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 Charles and David Koch

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):

Matson Monopoly cartoon 700

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 . . .





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