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What South Carolina Says About Zuccotti Park

Posted by: Mark Gimein on October 21, 2011 at 1:18 PM

ows_south_carolina_boeing.jpgA strange thing about Wall Street is that it’s in some ways a bad vantage point from which to look at what’s driving the economy. A good way to see the impetus behind the Occupy Wall Street movement is to get far away from the epicenter. Like South Carolina.

A Bloomberg story that should have gotten more attention looked at the experience of South Carolina, a state that sold itself to new employers as a business friendly place where they wouldn’t have to worry about unions. What’s telling about the state’s experience is that it succeeded with the pitch to business, bringing in big employers like BMW and Boeing. Nonetheless the state’s poverty numbers have gotten worse.

The basic issue here—wages remaining stagnant even when the economy seems to chug along nicely—precedes the 2008 crash by many years. When the US last seemed to be in a deep economic malaise, in the late 70s and early 80s, the standard complaint was that we just didn’t make anything anymore. Now we do; those plants in South Carolina are evidence of that. The benefit of this, however, has not trickled down.

In 1980, the median income for a man aged 25 to 34 was (adjusted for inflation to 2010 dollars) $39,250. You probably already have seen many statistic about income stagnation. Here’s a less abstract way of one way of thinking about it: in 2010, the median income for a man aged 55 to 64 was $41,197. That man aged 55 or 60 now is the same man who was 25 or 30 then. In 30 years, he has gotten a raise of about 5% (Or more precisely, he did get raises, and then they were taken away. Since 1990, his income has fallen dramatically.)

Put yourself in that man’s shoes, and you can see why his experience is central to the wealth debate: he may blame the banks, as the Zuccotti park protesters do, or he may blame the government, as the Tea Party does, but you can bet he feels like there’s something wrong.

Reader Comments

leonor Arango

October 21, 2011 5:26 PM

I am tiered of explaining how much money has gone where no one knows trillions, how I asked in Florida to My Senator for Help with our very obviouse, Foster care issue, 3 murdered in 3 month.

Response from pink slip Rivera was out of the 14 Trillion Debt, 46 K is mine. I was livid, called and well, I speak but mad.

How dare you, where is our lotto money for education, here I have yet to see, another false pretense to get public approval, and each or every other supervisor or higher.

Runs of with a couple of million and Costa Rica. I am sick of this, Fed is Private. new to me. Regards and God Help Us


October 22, 2011 10:07 AM

That's me.

Down here in the "We are the 49.999%" movement folks don't see a lot of difference between a bank, a hedge fund, an investment house or an insurance company.

When we say were going to put in 8 hours of work, we actually have to have 8 hours of time available. We don't work on margin. If somebody orders 10 hamburgers we actually make 10 real hamburgers. If they change their mind and really only want 3 hamburgers we actually have 7 hamburgers sitting there getting stale.

There is no federal reserve for hamburgers that will loan us imaginary hamburgers over night at .25% interest when we get in a pinch.

Capitalism was suppose to about actually having capital in reserve. I think maybe the discrepancy in income has something to do with the detachment from reality that our current financial system allows.

March 15, 2012 3:14 AM

What South Carolina Says About Zuccotti Park - BusinessWeek was added to my own bookmarks. I can't wait to read more about this subject.

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March 16, 2012 7:03 PM

What South Carolina Says About Zuccotti Park - BusinessWeek has been stored like a favorite :), I really like your website!

Crystle Fahy

March 18, 2012 2:40 PM

Thank you for the information. I will check back for future updates.
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April 2, 2012 5:14 PM

Interesting to read all the comments and responses, looking forward to more input and research info.
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"The Wealth Debate" is a running discussion of wealth, poverty, the economy and income inequality in the U.S. and the world. It was started shortly after the Occupy Wall Street movement sparked a global protest about the fallout from the financial crisis and money in politics. You can reach the editors, Dan Beucke and Mark Gimein, by email, or follow BloombergNow on Twitter to keep up with posts.

Analyses or commentary in this blog are the views of the author and or commentators, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloomberg News.

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