Over the past 25 years some types of Americans have become richer and richer, at the expense of others who have become poorer and poorer – to the point where average life expectancy is starting to fall. One might have imagined that at some point those who have been taking more and more would conclude that enough is enough, feel obligated to do more in return, and become concerned about the circumstances of others who are less well off. But that doesn’t seem to happen. Not among the richest generations in U.S. history, those born from 1930 to 1957, who continue to be completely focused on increasing their own share of the take. Not among the richest people, the top executives who sit on each other’s boards and vote each other higher and higher pay. And who anointed themselves “the makers” and everyone else “the takers” within two years of having been bailed out by the federal government, even as “the takers” saw their standard of living plunge, and then demanded another round of tax cuts that mostly benefit themselves.
And not among New York’s unionized public employees, particularly those working in its public schools, who have become the most politically powerful – and selfish – of all self-interest groups at the state and local level here. Power and selfishness seem to go together in part because no one dares to offend the powerful, by pointing out how much they have taken relative to everyone else, and the connection between others having less and them taking more. So they can continue to feel aggrieved, entitled, resentful, unobligated – and somehow demand even more without embarrassment. There seems to be no end to it. This post uses Census Bureau data to show how far it had gone, as of three years ago.