THE 99.99th PERCENTILE

From Paul Krugman’s column in Monday’s New York Times:

. . . Between 1972 and 2001 the wage and salary income of Americans at the 90th percentile of the income distribution rose only 34 percent, or about 1 percent per year. So being in the top 10 percent of the income distribution, like being a college graduate, wasn’t a ticket to big income gains. But income at the 99th percentile rose 87 percent [you’re in that happy percentile if your income these days is around $400,000 — A.T.]; income at the 99.9th percentile rose 181 percent [you’re in that happy percentile if your income is around $1.7 million]; and income at the 99.99th percentile rose 497 percent [bliss, thy name is $6 million-plus].

[. . .]

Should we be worried about the increasingly oligarchic nature of American society? Yes, and not just because a rising economic tide has failed to lift most boats. Both history and modern experience tell us that highly unequal societies also tend to be highly corrupt. There’s an arrow of causation that runs from diverging income trends to Jack Abramoff and the K Street project.

And I’m with Alan Greenspan, who – surprisingly, given his libertarian roots – has repeatedly warned that growing inequality poses a threat to “democratic society.”

☞ It is a GRAND time to be rich and powerful in America – and the Republican Party has made its top priority slashing taxes of the ultra-rich so that, after tax, the inequality Krugman reports gapes even wider. (It’s what Jesus would have done.)

REBATES

Peg: ‘Reading your reply to that Russian student inquiring about mail-in rebates, I couldn’t help but think about my friend Bob Hamman. Bob has been the world’s top tournament bridge player for years. But, in addition to that (as if it wouldn’t be enough), he started a very interesting company about 20 years ago. If you poke around his website, you’ll see that, essentially, Bob is one of the world’s biggest bookies. Bob goes to companies, assesses the risk involved in a particular rebate offer, and then tells the company that for ‘X dollars,’ he will handle the overage above a certain ceiling, no matter how many rebates come in. Of course, old Bob usually can calculate the odds well enough so that the ceiling is not exceeded and he just keeps those X dollars. Nevertheless, companies appreciate his service, because it’s easier for them to factor in a known dollar figure for a promotion than to assume an unknown liability. Bob’s told me that the percentage of folks who actually return the rebate forms is ridiculously small.’

☞ Peg – who has written in many times before without ever identifying herself as more than just Peg – attached a photo this time of her in between Bob and another bridge acquaintance, Bill Gates. Turns out, she’s a former national bridge champion herself. She would never brag about this, but I’ll brag for her – I get a huge kick out of my terrific, modest, and diverse readership.

Well – this clever guy, for example:

HE SHOOTS – HE SCORES!

Glenn Hudson: ‘I liked your method of calming yourself about your investment: ‘I keep telling myself: Television did catch on. Television did catch on.’ I am in the process of introducing an inexpensive revolutionary basketball-shooting practice device, the shootAndstar Rebounder. It catches both made and missed shots and returns them quickly to the shooter. If I had a nickel for everyone that told me what a great idea it was, I would already be rich from it. It’s so obvious that they should just be flying out the door. Yes, I have had some success since its introduction a little over a year ago, selling units in over 30 states and as far away as Australia. However, I have had some times when I became somewhat frustrated with the initial growth of units sold. When that happens, I always remind myself of the research that I did concerning the marketing of new inventions and the story of the person who invented the shopping cart. Apparently, they had trouble getting people to use them when they first put them in stores. People were so used to taking a basket with them to the store and putting the items they purchased in their own basket that they wouldn’t even try the carts. To solve the problem, the inventor eventually figured out that he had to hire people to push the carts around the stores until the average person became comfortable enough to try one. Now if you can’t get a shopping cart when you’re at a store, you get upset about it. For some reason, no matter how great or obvious a new idea or invention is, it just takes time and money to get it across to the general public. I would guess the problem is that the majority of people have great difficulty in accepting new ideas and making changes to their lives. Anyway, I use this story to calm myself because I know if I keep plugging away, one day I will be tremendously successful.’

THEN SHE BEATS THE CRAP OUT OF HIM

Anon: ‘First, I must ask that you not print my name. I am female, and grew up in a household in which my mother abused my father. My mother was a small woman, but my father would never strike her or even protect himself. I have watched my brother take on a similar marriage. We were an upper middle class family, and yet this was a violent situation. (Alcohol was involved, and once my mother got sober, the violence stopped, but I was well into adulthood.) My husband’s mother beat him, and his ex beat him, yet he was arrested for abusing her simply because the laws in our state allow a female to accuse a male of abuse and the male is automatically arrested. Men and boys do not tell anyone about this because it is so societally embarrassing to have a woman beat you up. Most child abuse is perpetrated by women, probably because they are the primary care givers. Thank you for at least raising these sorts of secrets in a different public forum. And again, please don’t use my name, as I would not want to cause my family the embarrassment that they have managed to hide from all these years.’

 

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