How America Became a Country of Haves and Have-Nots

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Ever since the United States of America became a nation, the struggle between opposing social classes -- those who have much, and those who have very little -- was present. In the early 1900s, John D. Rockefeller was worth over $300 billion (adjusted for inflation), and Andrew Carnegie was not far behind, controlling a wildly disproportionate amount of the country's wealth. The two men controlled such expansive and important businesses that the government was forced to make new laws to restrict monopolies, like the Sherman Act of 1890, the Clayton Act of 1914, and the Federal Trade Commission Act of 1914. 

The ultra-rich will always exist, but over the past 50 years, we've seen a divergence in income among levels of the middle class. What's interesting is what has caused this change in wealth in America.

Those who have more, make more
Over the past 50 years, the income gap broadened not only for the ultra-wealthy, but among the working class, as well. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, if you are in the 20th percentile of wage-earners (20% of people make less, 80% of people make more) your income (adjusted for inflation) grew 11.8% since 1967. If you lie in the 80th percentile, your income rose 45.7%, and for those in 95th percentile, your income escalated a staggering 66.3%.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau. Note: All data in 2011 dollars.

As is clearly illustrated, the gap between the haves and have-nots has intensified, and the country is quickly leaving half of its citizens behind.

The drivers of income inequality
The biggest factor propelling the ever-expanding income gap is education. The Census Bureau tracks incomes among different education levels, and since the current survey began in 1991, the results are resoundingly weighted toward those with higher educations.

As noted in the table below, the overall income growth is 14.1%; however, for those with an associate's degree or less, income is actually down over the past 20 years, when adjusting for inflation. Nevertheless, the data also expresses a 9%-14% spike in bachelor's degrees or higher, which consequently accounts for the overall income growth since 1991.


2011 Mean Income

Growth Since 1991

All education levels



Less than ninth grade



Ninth-12th grade



High school graduate



Some college



Associate's degree



Bachelor's degree or more



Bachelor's degree



Master's degree



Professional degree



Doctoral degree



Source: U.S. Census Bureau.

You could point to many factors for this divergence among incomes as education level changes, but the biggest factor is the productivity of manufacturing and the falling demand for unskilled labor.

From 1991 to 2011, overall private business output per labor hour rose 58%, while manufacturing output per labor hour rose 111%. Machines became bigger, better, and more complicated over that time, requiring fewer low-skill operators to produce the same amount of goods. Meanwhile, skilled operators who are in demand need a more advanced educational level than a high school degree -- a trend I have seen in my own career.

As a young engineer at 3M (NYSE: MMM  ) , it was my job to install equipment that was faster than existing equipment, in order to reduce labor costs. To paint the picture: If five pieces of equipment run by five operators made a total of 1,000 rolls of tape per hour, we could install a piece of equipment that only needed three operators and could produce 5,000 rolls of tape per hour. 3M produced more tape and needed fewer workers, which increased its efficiency, productivity, and lowered costs. This has happened throughout industry over the past 50 years, resulting in rising productivity per labor hour and less demand for low-wage labor.

The flip-side: The workers, who were now operating a piece of equipment that cost tens of millions of dollars to install, had to be smart to keep it running, with more than a ninth-grade education, a requirement the company may not have had in 1967. You can see above that a worker with at least an associate's degree makes more than double someone without a high school education. The economy doesn't just demand a pair of hands these days; it demands a smart pair of hands and it's willing to pay for them. 

Companies squeeze more out of workers
To put this in a corporate context; I went back and took a look at how manufacturing companies have improved productivity over the past two decades. 3M, General Electric (NYSE: GE  ) , and Ford (NYSE: F  ) are three of the biggest manufacturers in the country, and also among the largest employers. Each shows the same trend of improving productivity per employee by about 100%




Percent Change

3M Revenue 

$14.02 billion

$29.90 billion 


3M Employees




Ford Revenue

$91.57 billion 

$134.25 billion 


Ford Employees




GE Revenue

$60.56 billion

$147.36 billion 


GE Employees




Source: SEC filings.

Clearly, companies are squeezing more revenue from each employee, and they need fewer low-skill workers in the process. Ford even cut its staff by 46.9%, one of the major drivers of layoffs for blue-collar employers in Detroit.

Why are there haves and have-nots?
Education isn't the only reason for the divergence of incomes in America, but I think it's the main driver, and I don't see any reason the trend will change course. Fewer low-skilled workers are needed to produce more goods, and people need a way to differentiate themselves to demand a high wage.

Kids, it's time to hit the books.

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Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On May 10, 2013, at 1:54 PM, NeedaClue7 wrote:

    Good article. Many people are so busy blaming outsourcing for the loss of middle class jobs they're completely unaware of the main reason - technological advance.

  • Report this Comment On May 10, 2013, at 5:57 PM, ztnjpv wrote:

    "Over the past 50 years, the income gap broadened not only for the ultra-wealthy, but among the working class, as well. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, if you are in the 20th percentile of wage-earners (20% of people make less, 80% of people make more) your income (adjusted for inflation) grew 11.8% since 1967. If you lie in the 80th percentile, your income rose 45.7%, and for those in 95th percentile, your income escalated a staggering 66.3%."

    I never understand why this line of reasoning doesn't get more scrutiny for misrepresenting what the information tells us. Comparing percentiles over the decades is not a view of individual people and does not mean what people use it to mean.

    We need only look at OURSELVES in real life to see that the presentation of information in the quoted paragraph does not apply when we follow actual people through the decades. If you were working in the 20th percentile in 1967, you're likely retired by now. But leaving aside that trite and obvious observation, we should consider what happens when we look at actual people's percentile in 1967 and then again in 1972, '75, '80, '85 and so on. Or better yet, their individual earnings growth. I highly doubt most people in 1967 saw their income grow by a mere 11% over the next 20-30 years. See what's wrong with the following of percentiles to insinuate what happens to actual people?

    What that info DOES tells us is something about the percentiles....but it isn't entirely clear to me. I suppose you could say that Joe Shmoe in 1967 was in the 20th percentile making (in 2013 dollars) about $10/hr working at a gas station. Then, you could say that Bill Shmill in 2013 was in the 20th percentile making $11.10 working at Walmart...or a gas station. So what?

    But notice: that doesn't say anything about their ages, educational levels nor what these particular guys were or will be making 10-20 years later...nor what KIND of jobs they had later on.

    As with most people, Joe's and Bill's percentile likely improved with age and experience along with their pay. What their "successor" in the 20th percentile will be making in 2053 in 2013 dollars is not known. But it also also doesn't tell us much about mobility or the typical career path of particular people at any percentile.

    What I take from widening percentile gaps in that compensation rises exponentially over time with education and/or value of work or scarcity of skills as the workplace and skills needed evolve over time or change in value due to technology or alternatives. Not to mention the effects of unskilled immigrants on lower end wages. And I am fine with immigrants of all skill levels coming here BTW. I am not a slave to producing nice graphs for future reference. Opportunity to work hard and improve one's own lot is the key. And percentile gazing doesn't tell us much there.

  • Report this Comment On May 11, 2013, at 1:15 PM, showmethefacts wrote:

    Yes, education is one driver of economic success, but the principal reason the US has regressed into an 1890s-like state of wealth distribution is that the system is rigged.

    The super-wealthy have accumulated unprecedented political influence (exacerbated but not originated by the Citizens United decision and the fiction that money=free speech). They have rigged the tax code to accelerate the pace at which the "haves" absorb any and all income or wealth gains.

    A few examples: Section 1031 exchanges allow the wealthy to buy a shopping center (or office building or whatever) for $5 million, sell it for $10 million but pay ZERO tax on the gain, as long as they exchange the real estate for more real estate. I have done a 1031 exchange and its benefits are glorious -- but who does that help? To say the wealthy disproportionately enjoy such benefits is a gross understatement.

    Another example: the "carried interest" fiction that allows hedge fund managers to pay 15% tax on their income instead of the 39.6% other people in the top bracket pay.

    More fundamentally, the whole notion that passive income (from stocks, bonds and things rich folks inherit and sit on) should be taxed at a far lower rate that hard work is bizarre.

    The working poor pay a hefty federal tax on their incomes called the payroll tax or FICA. Fox "news" lies about that to, claiming most folks pay no "income tax" when they most certainly do.

    A more rational system would tax consumption, not income (with some efforts to ease regressivity, like a tax-free generic aisle in stores, where milk, bread and diapers, etc. are tax free)-- but both parties are so wedded to the loophole-ridden tax code that doing something rational like junking the tax code in favor of a national sales tax is a pipe dream.

    We have a political system more appropriately called a bribe-ocracy than a democracy, with media outlets that serve as propaganda arms of the super-rich. Both political parties are addicted to the cash. Clinton and Bush had treasury secretaries from Goldman Sachs; Obama appointed Geitner, whose previous job at the NY Fed was as the appointee of the Big Banks.

    The ultra-wealthy have won. It's not about the 1%; it's the 1/10th of 1% who control most everything. Until we de-couple money and politics, nothing can change. (And with 5 relatively young Republican appointees on the Supreme Court --the same 5 who voted for the Citizens United decision, the chances of doing that are thin).

    It is corrosive to a civil society to have a third world wealth distribution like we have. Everything worked better in the 1950s when a rising tide truly lifted all ships instead of only lifting the super-yachts.

  • Report this Comment On May 11, 2013, at 3:30 PM, devoish wrote:

    I think you can hide a lot of income disparity in the top percentiles. Take out the top 1% or .01% out of that top 20% group and the college degree did not make anywhere near the gains you show for it. Everybody opportunity and pay is getting robbed by the investment industry, corporate boards and CEO's.

    You know what! Just read this;

  • Report this Comment On May 11, 2013, at 5:31 PM, GeorgeStoll wrote:

    Finally someone is getting to one of the real causes of income inequality growth. There is another significant cause as the author Travis Hoium treats products which have enough value in the market to justify equipment investments so they naturally migrate to lower labor cost countries. While it is true the jobs are 'outsourced', the only way they could have stayed in the U.S. would have been to reduce the wages of the people making these products and that of course was not a good option. The bottom line is whether the jobs were lost through automation investments or through outsourcing of low value jobs, the answer is we must increase the education level our younger generation in order for them to make a good income and reestablish the middle class in the U.S. Please let's stop the discussions of using taxes and government benefits as ways to close the income back. We need to deal with the truth, we must have a better educated country in order to sustain a good standard of living for all Americans. From a former 3M colleague of Travis Hoium

  • Report this Comment On May 11, 2013, at 7:00 PM, devoish wrote:

    The shortest way to a better educated country is to make it free at the point of sale.

    Another way "outsourced" jobs could have stayed in the USA was to raise the incomes of employees buying the products.

    However, combining the two ideas you present we could have college grads become employed as tomato pickers.

    I mean, we still have to pick tomatoes and hammer nails and stuff, right? I am not sure why investors want to justify not paying the people who free their time up to be investors.

    Actually, I am sure why. Sometimes denial, sometimes greed.

    Best wishes,


  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2013, at 9:54 AM, XXF wrote:

    I agree with ztnjpv, who posted above, that the preceding data is really designed to mislead due to the exclusion of any information about who makes up each of those groups. In a study I've sited on here before, “Economic Mobility of Families Across Generations” we see that far more than a majority of those born into the lowest 20% of of income increase their relative income over their lives and the same in the opposite direction.

    Personally, I started out in the lowest quint when I began working at 15 in a grocery store I've moved up to the middle quint now about 16 months removed from college (and still rising). The fact is that there are unskilled positions, like grocery clerk, which aren't really deserving of additional pay just because efficient people at the top of the income scale do better, and anyone who finds themselves in a job like that is not trapped in it forever, the key lies in taking responsibility for yourself and not falling into the belief that if you work an 8 or 10 hour day you have done all you can to improve yourself. Go home and take an online course (for free!) or volunteer and develop some additional skills (before the white collar job I'm in now I volunteered at Habitat for Humanity which led to a construction job which paid far better than my initial job as a grocery clerk).

    TL;DR - Don't cry about misleading stats; take responsibility for your life.

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2013, at 10:02 AM, JimVanMeerten wrote:

    This article is just another reason why I think giving to scholarships is one of the most effective ways to fight unemployment and poverty -- send a check to your alma mater today -- your checks matter!

  • Report this Comment On May 17, 2013, at 10:10 AM, KombatKarl wrote:

    I went through the first 10 years of my career with "only" an Associates degree. Nearly 10 years ago I decided it was time to go back and get my Bachelors. When I graduated in 2005, it allowed me to get a job that nearly doubled my salary. I don't know how accurate some of the data is in the article, but you don't need to be a genius to know that the more education you have the better chance you have of making more money. Of course there are exceptions. I know 1 person with no college education making 6 figures. I know another with a Masters not making very much money at all.

  • Report this Comment On May 17, 2013, at 11:02 AM, Schneidku40 wrote:

    I'd like to see income gap disparity numbers from pre-WWII all the way back to the revolution in America. A wide income gap disparity has always existed in the world, from kings and peasants, to plantation owners and slaves, to those with higher education and those without, the number of poorer people has always far outnumbered the wealthy. It's only the means to that end that has changed.

    I don't have any link to back this up, but in my view, the two decades following WWII were an anomoly in terms of actually having a low income gap disparity. Jobs were aplenty to help rebuild the nation and early technological advances were easy for the layperson to grasp and manufacture or service. Once the technology advanced beyond the understanding of the layperson (perhaps with wide use of computers in the 1980s), the gap widened. Those with technological intelligence were rewarded, those without were left in the dust.

    I have no issue with the article as a whole, but I think choosing the 1960s as a starting point, when the income gap was relatively small, may bias the end result. Just like choosing the 1950s or 1960s as a starting point for climate change graphs, which was anomolous because the world was in a relatively cool period post-WWII that made the rise in temperature of the next 40 years seem all the more dramatic.

    I may be cold, but in my estimation it is the easiest time in history to be in the lower 20% of income. Now you can collect welfare and unemployment checks. 500 years ago those people would have starved to death. In the past four years I have talked to three people on unemployment and all three said they have no desire to get another job while they can collect the unemployment. Granted that's a very small sample size, but that's just my experience.

    With the way technology is advancing at the fastest pace in history, with the relative ease of starting a business and the ability to reach out to billions of potential customers through the internet and other communications (compared to only the 100 people in your dusty town 200 years ago), those few who are educated and have the motivation to achieve will be rewarded handsomely.

  • Report this Comment On May 17, 2013, at 11:46 AM, docdocatl wrote:

    I am a college professor with three Masters and a Ph.D., and I make less than $52,177, which is shown on the above chart as the 2011 average income of a HS Graduate.

    So, although education is presented as the catalyst for higher earnings, educators are not appreciated, nor are they well-compensated.

    Today in America one has to see educating as a calling to go into the profession.

    And while the article and comments agree that education is the key to upward financial mobility, I would submit that it is the degree that is critical today, and not the education.

    That is why one sees a proliferation of on-line, and for-profit universities that charge exorbitant "tuition" but only require a five-page paper for a Masters thesis, and a fifteen-page paper for a Ph.D. "dissertation," all of which I refer to as degrees from "clown college."

    I teach at a very prestigious liberal arts university known throughout its 176-year history for its high, demanding, and challenging educational standard.

    But, increasingly, I find that students and their parents are so completely inculcated into the marketplace that they see education as another object of desire: I pay my money for a product I want/need, therefore, after four years, I am automatically entitled to receive my diploma. And since I am paying my money, I should not be required to attend classes, read books, write papers, do research, etc.

    Parents and students are so steeped into this way of thinking that, today, what passes for education before college is really drilling to perform well on standardized tests, such as the SAT, because the object is to get accepted to a good college.

    So I have to teach seventh grade grammar to students with 1350 SAT scores. These are students who do not know the difference between "then" and "than," and actually think they mean the same thing. They do not know the difference between "there" "their" and "they're," do not realize that the comma has been invented, and cannot tell me the difference between "briefcase" and "brief case."

    Normally, when we participate in the marketplace we want the most value for our money. For example, when we buy a car, we want all the bells and whistles thrown in at no cost, whether or not we will ever use them, or even understand how they operate.

    Yet, with education, which is exorbitant in cost and creates financial hardship for individuals and families, students and their parents--the consumers--want the least for their money.

    Students will begin lining up outside the Registrar's office at 3 a.m., just so they can register for classes with the easiest professors. They want the professors who assign the least reading, the least number of papers, and those who do not require attendance.

    In other words, when it comes to education, parents and students demand the least value for their money.

    In fact, college is more about being social: drinking, drugs, parties, dating, experimenting with sexuality and identity, and other non-academic pursuits.

    Colleges do not like "helicopter" parents and grandparents. But if they knew what their children are doing on college campuses, most would not send their children away to college, nor have them live on campus.

    Yet parents are part and parcel of the problem with education in America today.

    Parents encourage their children to cheat, and will find and pay others to write papers for their children. When I was in graduate school, I had several Ph.D. colleagues who wrote papers for high school students for $25 per page.

    Parents threaten to sue the professor who gives their child any grade less than an A, and try to get professors fired when their child is cited for plagiarism or other academic infractions.

    So why would any professor in his or her right mind do the heavy lifting that it takes to actually educate students?

    Study after study finds that 85% of all students cheat but, more surprising, studies find that the best students believe that it is necessary to cheat, and plagiarize, in order to get the A, because it is A's that will get them into the best graduate schools, and they therefore must take advantage of every possible mechanism to get the highest GPA.

    And more and more, professors are poorly paid, truly educating is a 24/7 job with no evenings, weekends, or holidays off, and the average professor is just treading water, doing the least they can get away with, until retirement, and simply rubber stamp A's because it is the path of least resistance.

    In fact, I have seen one student's A paper with one paragraph repeated three times, so it was obvious that the student did not care, and that the professor did not read the work.

    I am an educator, not a teacher, and, as such, I am rowing against a tide that is becoming a tsunami: students do not want to be educated, parents want to pay tuition and get the high GPA and diploma after four years, and colleagues are hostile because I make them look lazy with their 25-year-old, yellowing, irrelevant lecture notes.

    The solution: ALL education, at all levels, across the nation, should be free AND standardized. Every student before college should have the same curriculum, and grading should be done outside the region.

    I was raised and educated in a Third World country under British colonialism, and I received the same education as children in England, India, Australia, Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), and in every other part of the British empire.

    Our exams came from England and were graded in England by people who knew nothing about us and our families. And that is why the child of a subsistence rice farmer, who went to school barefooted because the family was too poor to afford shoes, could get an all-expense paid scholarship to medical school in England.

    And do not kid yourself that you will be doing education and society a service by donating your hard-earned money to a college.

    I am also a Trustee of my university and find that the university is really a corporation disguising itself as an institution of higher learning. As such, members on the executive staff earn six-figure incomes, have full benefits (country club and gym memberships), and bonus and deferred income plans, and all the corporate perks. This has been the trend across the nation because, increasingly, universities' boards of trustees are stacked with corporate executives.

    And thus there is always no money left over for staff, faculty, and students. At my institution, which charges around $40,000 for full-time tuition, $38,000 was allocated for faculty pay raises for some 55 professors. And in the past four years, faculty was forced to take a 2% pay cut one year, and then suffer two years of salary freeze, and only receive a paltry $300 or $500 annual increase.

    Now run as a corporation, it's statistics that matter: reducing the number of students who transfer after the freshman year, increasing the number of students who graduate, etc.

    One of the institution's studies showed that students with a GPA of 3.5 or better stay at the university and graduate, usually in about five years.

    So, increasingly, faculty is pressured to dumb down the curriculum and inflate grades, because improved statistics on retention and graduation rates translate directly into fundraising dollars from corporations, foundations, the government, and individuals, who all think they are being noble and educating the next generation to make for a better America.

    It was the case that every student at my institution got a stellar education in every classroom. And the sad reality today is that students who want to be educated have to be pro-active and do research on who the best professors are, and ensure that they are in those classrooms.

    So if TMF's criteria for investing in a company were to be applied to my institution, it would fail on all counts: no moat, high executive compensation, poor management, poor product, poor staff relations, low shareholder (students) value.

    And that's why I'm leaving teaching, even though my statistics as an educator knock it out of the ballpark in all categories that the institution measures.

  • Report this Comment On May 17, 2013, at 12:36 PM, CharlieTX wrote:

    America has ALWAYS been full of Haves and Have-Nots and that will never change. What is different in America vs much of the rest of the world is that those in either group can transition from one to the other by hard work or stupid mistakes. The transitions can happen in either direction. Sure, it may seem harder to move up now than before, but times are different. People are also different, more imaginative, more resourceful, etc.. It all averages out in the long run.

  • Report this Comment On May 17, 2013, at 1:30 PM, HarryMoser wrote:

    The article is quite misleading in that it implies that more workers would have higher incomes if more workers had university degrees. Actually we already have far too may university graduates. About 40% are in jobs that do not require a 4-year degree. We need more engineers and more training for the skilled professions: tool maker, precision machinist, etc. Great apprenticeship programs are the key to the industrial success of Germany and Switzerland.

  • Report this Comment On May 17, 2013, at 2:03 PM, rahler99 wrote:

    The cause of the have/have not split is not technology. It is pure and simple, a switch to a culture of greed. A manufacturer installs technology and eliminates labor. Does that manufacturer pass the savings on to the customer? No, it goes as extra profits to the owner, or to the CEO in the form of a bonus. No longer is it acceptable to make a decent profit and run a company on an ethical basis. Profits must be "maximized" at all cost. Look who is being paid the most. The "hedge fund manager" and the banker/ money manager. Not the doctor who heals you or the plumber who fixes your house. No, they actually do something of value. Money managers have no ethics, at least of the positive kind, and bankers whine about being unable to make a profit even when they are allowed to charge rates that you or I would go to jail for. Yep, greed, pure and simple. No longer is the value of a stock something based upon reality, it is now whatever the pundits of the wall street clique can portray it as.

  • Report this Comment On May 17, 2013, at 2:50 PM, infopackrat wrote:

    As a college graduate (and an engineering school at that) working part time for minimum wage, I beg to differ with this article. It's not only the manufacturing jobs that have gone off to other countries, but engineering, designing, and even medical practices that are now happening more cheaply in other countries and getting sold back to us. Why get a degree (and all that student loan debt) when the job moves to another country as soon as you graduate? the only "outsource-proof" jobs are food service, janitorial, and hospitality industries. In other owrds, the bottom of the pay scale, no matter what your education.

  • Report this Comment On May 17, 2013, at 3:41 PM, ershler wrote:


    Your comments are at least 50 years out of date. The United States has less financial mobility then most developed countries.

  • Report this Comment On May 17, 2013, at 6:26 PM, rambotrader wrote:

    The article avoids the major reason why inequality exists: manipulation and fraud in the political system. If it addressed these issues readers would see that the rich have their paid backers in the political game. If they didn't then how does one explain that the rich have obscenely low tax rates which cut in at ridiculously high earnings and are available nowhere else in the developed world? And then are the many TAX DEDUCTIONS available to investors which minimise taxable incomes.

    It is wrong to point simply at education as being the difference. It is far more. Those who demand that low income earners (who consume 100% of their income) pay tax whilst those who have huge incomes pay little are fooling themselves as well as those who have no knowledge. If this were business it would be classified as a scam. It is unfair, shameful and would not be permitted if well off Americans had a conscience.

  • Report this Comment On May 18, 2013, at 12:15 AM, rambotrader wrote:

    Response to "docdocatl":

    Well spoken. Sadly education has become a commodity in the western world and teachers are seen as little more than drones to be manipulated. Is it any wonder that the profession is poorly remunerated is confronted with a growing pool of students who think that they can mouth off (or worse), refuse to engage in the education process and then blame teachers when they fail. But the chickens have been coming home to roost for many years as there are less and less highly skilled teachers and those left are often at retirement age. I can see the future headlines now......"why are there no skilled teachers to teach our children?" My response is that the public always gets what it deserves and when you abandon manners, hard work and proper remuneration for one sector (teaching) whilst over remunerating others (finance/business) then you set up outcomes which nobody will like in the end. Well perhaps very rich folk who can access the small pool of great teachers left at their select schools may be exempt.

    Again well spoken docdocatl. A slight diversion but on topic I venture to say.

  • Report this Comment On May 20, 2013, at 2:18 PM, CarlRachel wrote:

    That we are even looking at this subject and all its tangential drivers is important.

    I personally believe that there is no singular answer for a conundrum that emerges out of a society that is increasingly Balkanized, both economically and socially.

    The very fact that the income gap has widened and continues to expand is evidence enough that the nation is on a serious course that will not have a happy ending. While we can debate the causes, I proffer that the need for immediate fixes is even more imperious.

    Yes, we need to understand the causal elements in order to engineer more permanent solutions. Yet, the time spent on research that further corroborates what is already accepted wisdom could be better invested in — for one example — enacting immediate tax changes to initiate a return of the manufacturing sector, a more responsible sharing of the nation's debt from off the backs of the middle class, and a simplified, non-exclusionary income tax structure.

    The current government is held in suspect by a majority of voting Americans. Yet, these same voters, like addicts, crave continuous doses through a habit that ensures the two-party slate will thrive in its self-serving role.

    While individuals can be blamed, in part, for not keeping up competitively with the demands of the times, a collusive two-party government that strives to sustain its stranglehold while it shoves Americans under crushing debt bears the lion's share of blame for destroying the panorama across what once was known as the land of opportunity.

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General Electric CAPS Rating: ****
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3M CAPS Rating: ****