Why The American Dream Is A ‘myth’, A Nobel laureate says the U.S. is no longer the “land of opportunity” – and has numbers to prove it. Income inequality has become the subject of much debate in this country, in large part because of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
In his latest book, The Price of Inequality, Columbia Professor and Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz examines the causes of income inequality and offers some remedies. In between, he reaches some startling conclusions, including that America is “no longer the land of opportunity” and “the ‘American dream’ is a myth.”
While we all know stories of people who’ve moved up the social stratosphere, Stiglitz says the statistics tell a very different story. In the last 30 years the share of national income held by the top 1% of Americans has doubled; for to the top 0.1%, their share has tripled, he reports. Meanwhile, median incomes for American workers have stagnated.
Even more than income inequality, “America has the least equality of opportunity of any of the advanced industrial economies,” Stiglitz says. In short, the status you’re born into – whether rich or poor – is more likely to be the status of your adult life in America vs. any other advanced economy, including ‘Old Europe’.
For example, just 8% of students at America’s elite universities come from households in the bottom 50% of income, Stiglitz says, even as those universities are “needs blind” – meaning admission isn’t predicated on your ability to pay.
“There’s not much mobility up and down,” he says. “The chances of someone from the top [income bracket] who doesn’t do very well in school are better than someone from the bottom who does well in school.”
Because the children of those at the top of society tend to do better than those at the bottom – thanks, in part, to better education, health care and nutrition – the income inequality that’s slowly emerged over the past 30 years will only widen in the next 10 to 20 years.
Fastest-growing Industries Of The Decade, A new report reveals the 10 fields with the most growth potential, and some of them are pretty weird.This decade’s biggest business will take place on the Internet, in the yoga studio, or around the supermarket aisle. So says IBISWorld, the market research firm that releases an annual report of the fastest-growing industries, based on absolute revenue growth, established growth for the last 10 years, and expected performance for the next five years. The list of 10 industries serves as a good measure of our fiscal and social priorities. For example, several industries promote technological innovation, while others reflect our desire to take better care of ourselves as well as the environment. Here’s a breakdown of the hottest industries to watch, plus a few suggestions in each field of related occupations with good job prospects.
10. Online Eyeglasses & Contact Lens Sales
You can now buy everything from gadgets to groceries online; all you need is a reliable Internet connection and an at-the-ready credit card. IBISWorld predicts online sales for eyewear and contact lenses will flourish, especially with new technologies that allow customers to upload their image and virtually test how they’ll look in the eyewear they’re browsing. Revenue for the online eyewear and contact lens sales industry has grown by 28.2 percent, on average, annually for the last 10 years. Up to 2017, revenue is expected to grow 8.8 percent annually.
Related Jobs: The online marketplace has become more sophisticated, and requires techy know-how about site navigation and design to keep us enticed and clicking. If you’re a Web developer, you might want to search for openings at top industry players like 1-800-Contacts.com or Walgreen Company.
9. Green & Sustainable Building Construction
“Going green” is both fashionable and necessary. According to IBISWorld, the demand for energy-efficient buildings has skyrocketed, and government programs like Energy Star provide further incentive for corporations to design, build, and operate their buildings in a more responsible manner. Green and sustainable building construction grew 28.9 percent annually from 2002 to present. From 2012 to 2017, this industry should grow at an average annual rate of 22.8 percent.
Related Jobs: Shedding 28,000 positions this May, the entire construction industry has been in a fragile state. Still, there’s promise in the green and sustainable pocket of the sector. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts we’ll see a hiring renaissance for occupations like carpenters, plumbers, and cost estimators.
8. Hot Sauce Production
We’re in to eating. Terms like “food p**n” and “nom nom nom” have entered the vernacular, and a simple diet of meat and potatoes just doesn’t cut it if pho and sushi are options. A growing immigrant population with different consumption habits has contributed to our now-assorted taste buds, as its also changed the landscape of restaurants available and the items sold in our supermarkets. We’ve changed our ordering habits, broadened our cooking repertoire, and created a demand for the ingredients most needed to create these dishes. Production for one such ingredient–hot sauce–has seen average revenue growth of 9.3 percent per year from 2002 to present, and production is projected to continue swelling at an annual rate of 4.1 percent for the next five years.
Related Jobs: Looking to capitalize on this foodie trend? The BLS reports the potential for more than 117,000 jobs for restaurant cooks from now to 2020. Hiring prospects are best for cooks with formal and specialized training.
1962 Ferrari 250 GTO $35 Million, The most expensive car purchase in recorded history – $35 million for a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO race car built for Stirling Moss – was reported today by Bloomberg News.The apple-green GTO, one of 39 made by Ferrari between 1962 and 1964, was bought by U.S. car collector Craig McCaw within the past two weeks in a private transaction from Dutch-born businessman Eric Heerema, according to the car-dealer website Anamera.com accessed by Bloomberg, which also confirmed the sale through two independent traders.
The previous sales record was held by Peter Mullin, owner of the Mullin Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, who reportedly paid between $30 million and $34 million in 2010 for a 1936 Type 57SC Bugatti Atlantic.
McCaw, a Seattle resident, was a co-founder of McCaw Cellular that was acquired by AT&T for $11.5 billion in 1993. According to the Forbes ranking of billionaires published in March 2012, McCaw has a net worth of $1.8 billion. Heerema, owner of the Nyetimber vineyard in SusS-EX-, England, reportedly purchased the GTO 10 years ago for $8.5 million.
The Ferrari GTO has long been considered the most desirable and valuable of any cars built by the Maranello, Italy, automaker because of its iconic styling and V12 performance. In 2010, the nearly $18 million sale of a Ferrari 250 GTO by British TV and radio host Chris Evans made headlines, and it reportedly has since been resold in the upper $20 millions, Bloomberg said. (Fox News)
Facebook $40 Million, Nasdaq OMX Group Inc.’s plan to earmark $40 million for brokers whose orders were mishandled in Facebook Inc.’s initial public offering will hurt competition, according to NYSE Euronext.
The second-biggest U.S. stock-exchange operator said yesterday that it would pay $13.7 million in cash, with the rest of the money credited through lower trading fees for members who took losses. That step was criticized by the New York Stock Exchange owner, which said it compels customers to trade on Nasdaq to get refunds. The Securities and Exchange Commission must approve Nasdaq’s plan before it can be implemented.
“This is tantamount to forcing the industry to subsidize Nasdaq’s missteps and would establish a harmful precedent,” NYSE Euronext said in an e-mailed statement. “We intend to strongly press our views that Nasdaq’s proposal cannot be allowed to permit an unjust and anti-competitive situation.”
Delays and malfunctions on the Nasdaq Stock Market were the first signs of trouble in the May 18 Facebook IPO that burned investors, cost Wall Street market makers an estimated $120 million and prompted lawsuits against the company, its exchange and the underwriters. The stock is down 29 percent since the $16 billion offering, the biggest ever by a technology company. (San Francisco Chronicle)
Your Cheapest Source Of Lifetime Income, Many people don’t realize that Social Security is the best annuity you will ever find.The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College has just released a new study that shows that the best way for people to turn their 401(k) balances into a stream of income is to “buy” an annuity from Social Security. Many people don’t recognize that Social Security is in the annuity business, but it is and it has the cheapest product in town.
As more people approach retirement with 401(k) plans as their only supplement to Social Security, they face the challenge of how best to use their accumulated 401(k) assets to support themselves once they stop working. They could invest in safe assets and try to live off the interest, but the value of the assets would erode as prices rise and interest income would fluctuate as nominal interest rates rise and fall. They could invest in a portfolio of stocks and bonds and draw out some percent each month, but to avoid outliving their assets that draw is now about 3 percent. They could take some of their money to an insurance company and buy an annuity, but commercial annuities tend to be expensive because they are designed for people with above-average life expectancy and involve considerable marketing costs.
A much better alternative is for the household to “buy” an annuity from Social Security. They can make this “purchase” by using their savings to pay current expenses and delaying claiming to get a higher monthly benefit at an older age. The savings used is the “price” and the increase in monthly benefits is the annuity it “buys.”
For example, consider a retiree who could claim $12,000 a year at age 65 and $12,860 at age 66 – $860 more. If he delays claiming for a year and uses $12,860 from savings to pay the bills that year, $12,860 is the price of the extra $860 annuity income. The annuity rate – the additional annuity income as a percent of the purchase price – would be 6.7 percent ($860/$12,860). Remember that Social Security benefits are indexed for inflation, so the retiree is buying a real annuity. Vanguard – a wonderful company – also sells real annuities but it pays much lower rates.
Walmart Shareholders Meeting 2012, While Wal-Mart’s U.S. business is roaring back, the world’s largest retailer will face scrutiny from shareholders at its annual meeting Friday in the wake of allegations that top executives neglected their responsibility in a bribery scandal in Mexico.
Shareholder groups, including the nation’s two largest public pension funds, and key proxy adviser firms have called for the removal of several board members, including CEO Mike Duke and former CEO Lee Scott. Investors have filed lawsuits against top executives.
The descendants of founder Sam Walton own about 50 percent of Wal-Mart’s shares, so activist shareholders have little chance of voting out the board members. But any lack of support for the leaders is a blow to the retailer, which has worked hard to rebuild its reputation. Such criticism could dampen the festivities of the celebrity-laden event, which will celebrate the company’s 50th anniversary.
The New York Times reported in April that Wal-Mart allegedly failed to notify law enforcement after finding evidence that officials authorized millions of dollars in bribes in Mexico to get speedier building permits and other favors.
Mexico is Wal-Mart’s largest international operation. Duke was the head of the international division and Scott was CEO when Wal-Mart was conducting the probe in 2005.
Federal authorities in the U.S. and Mexico are said to be investigating Wal-Mart for potential violations of the 1977 law that forbids U.S. companies from bribing foreign officials.
Wal-Mart has said it is overhauling its compliance program and has launched an internal investigation. It disclosed last month that it is widening the investigation to other countries. (AP)