January 2014 is almost over and it feels like it’s only been a few days. That’s OK though: January is always the dump month. Musicians dump their less-than-marketable albums, movie distributors drop their lackluster movies in the only time of the year they have a chance to make money, and people unload their dumpy moods freely because it’s cold. It’s not all horrible though! We’ll always have “This Week in Financial Blunders” to put things in perspective. Speaking of which …
Income inequality, the uneven distribution of wealth amongst classes, has quickly become the hot-button economic issue for the press and politicians. In the days approaching the president’s State of the Union speech, two articles exposing the detrimental effects of income inequality were published, both of them breaking the struggle down into easily digestible bullet points. One article came from the Huffington Post, which started by exposing the bad yin and yang of income inequality: The rich save most of their money (the top 1% of earners save 37% of their money), while lower-income earners spend much more of their money. The article argues that increased wages for low-income earners will help the economy because of this. The article also implies that this creates an adverse effect on American politics. “The median net worth of U.S. senators is now around $2.7 million,” according to the article, which creates a divide between policy makers and the people they represent.
Rolling Stone had an equally unsettling article titled “27 Shocking Numbers That Reveal the True State of the Union.” While it wasn’t all related to U.S. economics, it reinforced the theory that income inequality affects us in more ways than we imagine. Here are some of the bigger points:
- New income generated since 2009 that has gone to the top 1 percent: 95%
- Financial wealth controlled by the bottom 60% of all Americans: 2.3%
- Number of Americans who were cut off from long-term unemployment benefits at the beginning of the year: 1.3 million
- Real decline in median middle-class incomes since 1999: $5,000
Would You Like Highs with That?
If you were looking for a Happy Meal in Pittsburgh recently, you may have received a terrible surprise in the form of heroin instead. McDonald’s worker Shania Dennis was arrested this past Wednesday and charged with selling heroin through the drive-through. The gambit: If you were looking for heroin and hankering for some fast food, you could drive through this particular McDonald’s and say, “I’d like to order a toy.” That was the code for “I’d actually like to order some narcotics,” and Dennis would deliver. After the police were tipped off, undercover agents caught her in the act and seized a total of 60 bags of heroin. Lesson learned: It’s very hard to do two jobs at once – and it’s also illegal if one of them involves selling drugs.
That’s all the blunders for this week. Feel free to comment below with more blunders we may have missed.