On incomes, Russia and the US are now equally unequal


Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin have a lot in common—elephantine egos, jowls, a post-fact approach to the world. They also happen to run two of the world’s most unequal countries, as major economies go.

The chart below shows the share of national income in three countries—the US, Russia, and France—claimed by the top 10% of earners since the early 1900s. (Income counts as wages, interest, rent, dividends, realized capital gains, pensions, and unemployment benefits before taxes and transfers.)

Elite earners in US, Russia, and France all claimed roughly the same share of income in the early 1900s. But their fortunes diverged dramatically over the next century. That makes it particularly striking that, in terms of income inequality, Russia and the US have wound up in about the same place.

Despite the global prominence of Russian oligarchs, you don’t often see Russia on the top of the income inequality charts. That’s probably because the government’s official data clearly understate the situation. These new data come from pioneering work by the French economist Thomas Piketty documenting more than a century of Russian wealth—trends that he details in a blog post and a fascinating new working paper.

By documenting the share of income pocketed by different ranks of earners, the measure tells us a lot about the distribution of wealth in a given society. For instance, in an egalitarian utopia, where everyone made just about the same amount of money each year, the top 10% of earners would earn only a bit more than 10% of total income.

But when that upper decile is bringing in, say, 48% of the country’s total income, it means that the average person in that top bracket is earning 4.8 times more than his average countryman.

And that, as it happens, is where the US finds itself as of 2015, the last year for which there are data. Elite Americans are now claiming the biggest share of income than they’ve managed in 75 years.

That’s probably no coincidence. It was around 75 years ago that New Deal reforms strengthening workers’ bargaining power began to bear fruit. Along with programs that boosted education and homeownership among World War II veterans, those reforms shifted wealth toward the middle chunk of society. That built the American middle class that powered a virtuous cycle of economic expansion. As the economy grew, so did incomes. And as consumption grew, so did the economy.

That “Great Compression” of incomes, as economists Claudia Goldin and Robert Margo termed it, ends abruptly in the 1980s as the US adopted neoliberal policies, shredding the New Deal social contract. (In Piketty’s home country, where a robust social welfare program endures, income remains far more equally distributed, though France’s economy has also grown at a slower pace.)

In terms of who earned what, Soviet Russia was strikingly—probably artificially—egalitarian. In 1980, the 10% highest Russian earners took home around 21% of total income, compared with around 46% in 2015. That’s almost exactly where it was in 1905, when czars ran Russia.

The country’s swift shift toward inequality begins with the Soviet Union’s collapse. Five years later, the share of income earned by the top 10% had almost doubled, jumping from 25% in 1991 to 48% in 1996, as a privatization bonanza got underway. Since then, that share has stayed in about the same place, ticking up during the epic Russian bull market that spanned from 1998 to 2008, and dropping just a tad after the global financial crisis and the plunge of oil prices.

The income grab by Russia’s elite as the country morphed from a Soviet republic to an (increasingly autocratic) kleptocracy was much sharper, and quicker, than that accompanying the US’s neoliberalist embrace.

But perhaps the circumstances and timing of the US shift should make Americans even more uneasy. Russia’s inequality is an unfortunate but unsurprising byproduct of the Soviet Union’s collapse; the epic upheaval that followed gave oligarchs an easy opportunity to seize control of the institutions that distribute wealth. The US shift toward inequality, by comparison, occurred during a period of near-idyllic stability. Unlike Russia, the re-jiggerings of US political and economic institutions to favor the wealthy weren’t by accident. They were deliberate, voter-approved choices.

Webster Tarpley – Dissident Groups Must Realign Behind Obama – The Definition of Controlled Opposition


“isn’t it funny that now as obamagod’s credibility is shaken and his real objective is showing through, we have Tarpley running a campaign in the dissident left urging them to “re-align” and support obama by “denouncing” real independent journalism?” me, today, so there

A reader left me a comment suggesting Webster Tarpley was exposing Glenn Greenwald as a psyop as early as June 9th 2013. That’s not entirely accurate. What Tarpley actually said was that the NSA scandal was being orchestrated by MI6 in order to pressure Obama into attacking Syria. He didn’t know if Glenn was in on the deception or not.

What Tarpley does stress in the hour plus video is that dissident groups have to “re-align” behind supporting Obama and they all need to “denounce” any independent journalists out here trying to expose his criminality.

While blaming everything from Benghazi to the NSA on Romney and MI6 he breezes over Obama’s criminality in Libya, never mentions drones and suggests we should back Obama in our own interests as purveyors of “realism politics” meaning : “hold your nose and vote”, “lesser of two evils”… pick your establishment supporting false left V right paradigm cliche.

According to Webster it’s the pragmatic approach to investigative journalism I suppose but to me it’s also called “controlled opposition” or better still, Cass Sunstein styled pure “propaganda”

Based on his own words, in his own words, you should all understand that Webster Tarpley is in the BUSINESS of carrying water for the criminal Obama administration, trying to convince the dissident left to get in line behind administration policies by ignoring their crimes and attacking those of us who don’t.

What follows after the break is the video left as a link by this reader and my comment that followed it. I felt it was important enough to make this an article on it’s own because what I do here is expose propaganda. That includes propaganda and crimes of the state committed by Bush as well as Obama and that includes exposing operatives in the MSM and the alternative media who back said regimes either from the right or the left.

and here is the comment I left for the reader:

Submitted on 2014/01/20 at 8:00 am | In reply to Daniel Casalaro.

“I don’t need you to support Obama. That’s impossible (not running again). But what you CAN do and what you MUST do is denounce those attacking Obama!” Webster Tarpley

listening to video…

“we should be lucky we don’t have Romney… we would be fighting in Syria and Iran and we’re better off” Webster Tarpley

funny, the fascist dictatorship he describes that we would have had @ 6:30 mark in video (were it not for ObamaGod?) is the exact same thing that happened in Egypt, which he supports as the “real revolution”

then he goes on to absolve ObamaGod for Benghazi, saying it was an attempted “October Surprise” done to put Romney in the White House. Blames Benghazi on Romney (not Clinton?) and fails to notice it was done to justify military build-up in Africa.

he then goes on to say ObamaGod didn’t submit a jobs creating program because he couldn’t “get it through the house”

oh yeah, that’s why…

At the 16 minute mark he seems to suggest that Mubarak of Egypt was a Nasserist leader, populist by nature, and that the “current government” (elected Morsi) was trying to destroy that populist element of Egypt. Remember, he also supports the al Sisi dictatorship…

he focuses on France and Britain’s role in Syrian destabilization campaign while ignoring ObamaGod’s role altogether.

20 minute mark “Whatever he (Greenwald) THINKS he’s doing, this is the tool of the British and the French…” Webster Tarpley

then he proceeds to blame it all on GCHQ.

“i would submit the actual origins of these stories is these people cus they spy on their own citizens… whatever Greenwald thinks, i think it was these people and the goal of it is, they want the US at war” 22:44 mark

ok, so Webster suggests Greenwald is being USED (not complicit) by MI6 to push ObamaGod into war with Syria, which of course, has been Webster’s schtick all along, that ObamaGod does want war and every scandal is simply blackmail by other elements.

aaaaaand that’s all he said about it aside from closing with…

“I don’t need you to support Obama. That’s impossible (not running again). But what you CAN do and what you MUST do is denounce those attacking Obama!” Webster Tarpley

uuuuh… no. That doesn’t even come close. yeah he “mentioned” Greenwald and Snowden, but not as a psyop, as an attempted blackmail of ObamaGod.

not even close

Yes, Amy Goodman is controlled opposition. That’s a fact. But so is Webster Tarpley. He’s just assigned to a different target market, but still he’s carrying water for ObamaGod and trying to position himself each and everyday as the “leader” of that targeted group. That’s why he’s always reinventing his position…


thanks for the video. very enlightening.

“the goal is watergate (impeachment). the republicans in washington, i watch them quite closely, they talk of nothing else. they say “the irs, benghazi, james rosen, the ap and now, the nsa. is this what you want? you have to make a political decision. is it going to help you to get obama out at this point? the merit obama has is when these people come to him and say we want the war, obama has said no… i speak as the most vehement critic of obama in the world” Webster Tarpley

for the record, obama is as much a warmonger as any of them and the entire syrian destabilization campaign STARTED under obama. for the record… Libya. for the record, obama surged our involvement in Afghanistan and is currently sending thousands of troops into Africa. for the record, obama signed ndaa 2012 in the dead of night dec 31 2011. for the record his death by drone campaign is off the charts. for the record, american gladio under his watch.

this video is a perfect example of the kind of controlled opposition that Webster Tarpley represents. different than Goodman, different slightly, than Di$info Jone$, but OBVIOUSLY, controlled opposition just the same


you don’t “denounce” journalists because they are reporting stories that may harm your favorite president.

and you certainly don’t obfuscate or ignore their crimes because you think the alternative may be worse. think about that for a second. sound like the old propaganda line we heard years ago?

“we can’t impeach Bush cus Cheney would take over”

here’s another…

“i urge you to re-align” Webster Tarpley literally telling dissident crowd to get behind Obama

isn’t it funny that now as obamagod’s credibility is shaken and his real objective is showing through, we have Tarpley running a campaign in the dissident left urging them to “re-align” and support obama by “denouncing” real journalism?

you think this guy is believable at all? trustworthy? it’s a joke

On Burrard Bridge in Vancouver. Autumn of 2019.

The Burrard Street Bridge (sometimes referred to as the Burrard Bridge) is a four-lane, Art Deco style, steel truss bridge constructed in 1930–1932 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The high, five part bridge on four piers spans False Creek, connecting downtown Vancouver with Kitsilano via connections to Burrard Street on both ends. It is one of three bridges crossing False Creek. The other two bridges are the Granville Bridge, three blocks or 0.5 km (0.31 mi) to the southeast, and the Cambie Street Bridge, about 11 blocks or 2 km (1.2 mi) to the east. In addition to the vehicle deck, the Burrard Bridge has 2.6 m (8 ft 6 in) wide sidewalks and a dedicated cycling lane on both sides.

The architect of the Burrard Street Bridge was George Lister Thornton Sharp, the engineer John R. Grant. The bridge’s two close approach spans are Warren trusses placed below deck level, while its central span is a Pratt truss placed above deck level to allow greater clearance height for ships passing underneath. The central truss is hidden when crossing the bridge in either direction by vertical extensions of the bridge’s masonry piers into imposing concrete towers, connected by overhead galleries, which are embellished with architectural and sculptural details that create a torch-like entrance of pylons. Busts of Captain George Vancouver and Sir Harry Burrard-Neale in ship prows jut from the bridge’s superstructure (a V under Vancouver’s bust, a B under Burrard’s).

Unifying the long approaches and the distinctive central span are heavy concrete railings, originally topped with decorative street lamps. These pierced handrails were designed as a kind of visual shutter (stroboscopic effect), so that at a speed of 50 km/h motorists would see through them with an uninterrupted view of the harbour. The effect works at speeds from about 40 to 64 km/h.

The Burrard Street Bridge, opened July 1, 1932, was built to provide a high-level crossing from Vancouver to the southwestern neighbourhoods in Kitsilano, by connecting Burrard Street to Cedar Street. After completion, Burrard was extended through to the base of downtown and Cedar Street disappeared.

At the opening ceremony, entertainment was provided by two bands, the Kitsilano Boy’s Band and the Fireman’s Band. An RCAF seaplane flew under the bridge and later a sugar replica of the bridge was unveiled at the civic reception in the Hotel Vancouver.

G.L. Thornton Sharp, of Sharp and Thompson, was the architect responsible for the distinctive towers on the bridge and its middle galleries. “Both central piers,” Sharp told a reporter, “were designed and connected with an overhead gallery across the road. This helped to mask the network of steel in the truss from the two approaches, and has been treated as an entrance gateway to the city.” Along their other axis, the full height of the piers above the water also serve to frame a sea entrance gateway, notably for pleasure craft: “by sea and land we prosper”. The piers have provision for a rapid transit vertical lift span beneath the highway deck, never installed.

Burrard Street Bridge has been assessed by heritage consultants retained by the City of Vancouver as being in the top category of historic buildings in Vancouver. The bridge appeared on a stamp issued by Canada Post in 2011, in a series showcasing five notable Art Deco structures in Canada.

When constructed, the Burrard Street Bridge did not have dedicated lanes for cyclists, who shared the bridge’s six vehicle lanes with motorists. Later, as traffic volume grew and speed limits were increased on the bridge to 60 km/h, cyclists were directed to share the bridge’s sidewalks with pedestrians. Over time, the volume of pedestrians and cyclists on the 2.6 m (8 ft 6 in) sidewalks created a dangerous situation, with several accidents occurring, which resulted in at least one successful lawsuit against the city.

Since the mid-1990s, the city of Vancouver has investigated various options to rectify the situation. The two most prominent options were 1) to introduce bicycle lanes on the bridge’s vehicle deck by reallocating one or more vehicle lanes, and 2) to build horizontal extensions on the outside of the bridge to create additional sidewalk space. Other options have included building an entirely new pedestrian and/or cyclist only bridge, and building another deck on the bridge below the existing deck.

Heritage advocates have been strongly opposed to the construction of outside sidewalk extensions, which would likely alter significantly the historical character of the bridge. Fiscal conservatives have also been opposed to high costs associated with this option.

Many motorists and others have opposed reallocation of vehicle lanes to bicycle lanes, believing that the reduction in vehicle carrying capacity would create excessive traffic problems both on the bridge and on and around alternate crossings, such as the Granville Street Bridge.

Beginning March 26, 1996, in a six-month trial by the City, one commuter lane was closed to automobile traffic and made into a temporary cyclist lane. However, after one week, the City was forced to revert the lane to its original purpose, due to outrage by some motorists.

On May 31, 2005, a detailed engineering and planning report was presented to Council, reviewing the situation broadly, presenting alternatives, and offering recommendations.

That day Vancouver City Council voted 10–1 not to follow the recommendations of the report, but to reallocate the two curb-side lanes to cyclists for another trial, as part of Council’s plan to increase cycling in Vancouver by 10 percent for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

The issue was carried into the municipal election of November 19, 2005.

On December 20, 2005 the newly elected Council voted 6-4 to cancel the lane reallocation trial and to proceed directly to widening the bridge sidewalks as promised in that election.

In 2006, the City considered removing the concrete railings and widening the bridge deck by outward (‘outrigger’) sidewalks, at projected cost of over $40 million. To preserve the bridge’s heritage value, such cantilevered structures would not include the bridge’s central piers, or towers. Critics of this plan argued that the resulting “pinch points” would defeat the purpose of widening the bridge by creating bottlenecks, through which a greater number of cyclists, skaters and pedestrians must pass over coming decades.

For the third consecutive year, in 2008 Heritage Vancouver listed the Burrard Bridge first on its Top Ten endangered sites in Vancouver. It had ranked fourth in 2005.

Sidewalk expansion was delayed by the Squamish First Nation, which controls the land directly under the south (or west) side of the bridge. For construction to begin, the city would require permission from this group, which has expressed concern that machinery working on the site may affect their land.

The Squamish First Nation erected advertising billboards on their properties, located at that bridge approach, and is proposing the same for similar properties by the Lions’ Gate Bridge and the Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing.

In a late April 2008 report to Council, city engineers raised the estimated cost of widening to $57 million, due to reconsideration of the additional weight to the existing bridge structure and rising construction costs. $61 million was set as a more likely figure.

In Nov. 2008 the current Council, which advocated widening the bridge, was defeated and replaced by a new mayor and Council opposed to the widening but supportive of lane reallocation from vehicles to cyclists. In late January 2009, in an economic downturn and anticipating the 2010 Winter Olympics, the City announced plans for trials of three kinds of auto traffic lane closings, allowing bicycle use of the road surface. This would be supplemented by safety upgrades.

In March 2009, the City of Vancouver delayed discussing the Burrard Bridge Bike Lane Trial at least one month. Council rescheduled meeting to May 5, 2009 to discuss the three kinds of possible trials, to begin summer 2009, where one approved.

On May 7, 2009, Council approved a motion to proceed with option 3 of the proposed trials, to begin in June 2009. The proposed trial began on July 13. It saw the southbound motor-vehicle curb lane and the northbound-side sidewalk allocated to bicycles, with the southbound-side sidewalk allocated to pedestrians. The reassigned lane was separated from motor vehicles by a physical barrier. As part of the trial, traffic pattern changes to accommodate feeder bicycle traffic were also completed on Pacific St., next to the North bridgehead, over complaints from local merchants that cited lack of consultation and possible negative impacts on their businesses. Three days into the trial, a local merchant reported a 46% drop in sales compared to the same days the year before. Six weeks into the trial another local merchant reported a 25% drop in sales, and a local restaurant reported a 30% drop in sales.

Regarding effects on three kinds of traffic: two weeks into the trial, the City of Vancouver released a data report showing daily bicycle travel across the bridge had increased by an average of 30%. The same report indicated little change in pedestrian trips, a slight drop in motor vehicle trips, but no change in motor vehicle travel times between 12th Avenue and Georgia Street along Burrard via the bridge.

In July 2009 a website allowing people to register opposition to the bike lane trail was set up by local realtor and former NPA parks candidate Keith Roy at www.unblockthebridge.ca

(On August 24, 2009 the Vancouver Police Department announced a sharp increase in bicycle theft, with the first three weeks of August experiencing a 53 percent increase over 2008, however, VPD spokesperson Constable Jana McGuinness denied a link between the rise in theft and the lane reallocation trial.)

By 2019, the bike lane on the Burrard Bridge had become the busiest bike lane in North America. The Downtown Business Improvement Association, which had originally opposed the conversion of vehicle lanes into bike lanes, stated that it endorsed cycling infrastructure because many employees and customers bike to downtown businesses.

In December, 2009 the Squamish First Nation erected an electronic billboard on their land adjacent to the south end of the bridge on the west side. It is visible to traffic travelling in both directions on the bridge and each screen (one for each direction) measures 9 metres wide x 3 metres tall. The advertisements will cycle every ten seconds. There has been controversy and protest from neighbouring residents who claim the billboard is unsightly, blocks view corridors of the mountains and even that it is a dangerous distraction to drivers. There are at least five other similar billboards going up near the Lions Gate Bridge and Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing as well as near the Stawamus Chief on Highway 99. The billboards were approved by the federal government. Local and regional governments have acknowledged they have no control over what is done on native reserve lands. The Squamish Nation has said that the purpose of the billboards is primarily to make money.

There continues to be a significant problem with PCB contaminants at the bridge; in 2012 Vancouver City Council allocated $14 million in funding over two years to the removal of PCB contaminants from the Burrard and Granville bridges.

Please Stop with the David Duke Videos


Lately, many people have been spreading videos, quotes, and articles featuring David Duke via email, Facebook, blogs, etc. This is a tangential issue, because it’s not something Alex Jones is doing himself. It’s something that has become mysteriously popular among certain fans of Jones, particularly Truthers and Canadian “Freemen”. I have to say something about it because I hate racism more than just about anything else on this planet, and I realize that (strange as this may seem to Americans), a lot of Canadians seem to be unaware of David Duke’s history and motives. They like what he has to say about the Israel-Palestine issue, or Zionism, or what-have-you, so they think it’s perfectly acceptable to share his “work” for the enlightenment of others.

Here’s the deal. I’ve watched these videos and read these articles, and I can tell you in perfect confidence that everything David Duke has to say about Israel and Palestine has already been said elsewhere, by far more credible (and far less racist) people like Gwynn Dyer, Robert Fisk, and Norman Finkelstein – to name just a few. Duke is not doing original research. I doubt he’s even been to Israel or Palestine, as there would be no impetus for a Christian white racial supremacist to hang out with Jews and Muslims (unless it’s at a Holocaust denial conference or a PR event). I believe that Duke’s recent moral support of Muslims is a ploy; he doesn’t actually care about their rights and issues, but it benifits him to align himself with them in the short term, to promote his anti-Semitism.

So by using Duke’s words, his videos, his image to spread a certain message, rather than going to the source material and putting together your own presentations on the conflict, you look like a total asshole. I guarantee that anyone who knows you’re disseminating David Duke literature and vids will look askance at you for the rest of your life, wondering if you’re secretly a racial supremacist. It will damage your credibility and reputation beyond measure, no matter how many times you say something like, “I don’t like David Duke, I just liked what he had to say in this clip.”

The attitude seems to be that it’s OK to learn from and collaborate with racial supremacists as long as they’re not being overtly racist. It’s the same attitude I saw among Truthers who worked openly with Holocaust deniers, arguing that if you’re united on one issue, it doesn’t matter what else you believe. Maybe that’s true, but look how much damage was done to the Truth movement by its affiliation with anti-Semites. The bottom line is that by failing to challenge racist disinfo and supremacist propaganda when you’re directly faced with it, you are basically aiding and abetting it. You are giving your tacit approval to it. And if you are helping racists spread their message by sharing their videos and literature – for whatever reason – you are actually participating in it.

With the current attitude, it shouldn’t be a surprise that white supremacists and white separatists have been making some major headway lately. The separatist movement has its own syndicated radio show, Political Cesspool (on which perennial Jones favourite Paul Craig Roberts has been a guest). And now David Duke, of all people, has somehow managed to dupe certain members of the public – once again – into believing that he has changed and that it’s time to stop mentioning his “past” as a Klan leader and racist. If you have fallen for this, I strongly urge you to review even the most basic information about Duke, even just his Wikipedia entry. He does, beyond any shadow of any doubt, believe that the Christian white man is morally, spiritually, physically, and mentally superior to any other race on earth, and that he has a God-given mandate to spread this message to as many people as he can. This is not past tense. David Duke is not appearing on TV and giving radio interviews to offer you unbiased, helpful information about Israel and Palestine; he is using public forums to subtly denigrate non-Christian and/or non-white people so that you will begin to think of yourself as superior to them and jump all the way onto his bandwagon. He is a propagandist. He is a popularizer. He is a recruiter. If you’re comfortable with this, go ahead and share his information with everyone you know. If you’re not, take a stand. Stop being a vector of thinly veiled racist propaganda.

Let’s bid farewell to Paul Craig Roberts, a favourite guest of both Jones and the white supremacists at Republic Broadcasting Network’s Political Cesspool. (David Duke once wrote that before PC debuted in 2004, the white man had no voice in mainstream radio. Apparently Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Imus, Glenn Beck et al don’t qualify as mainstream. Or white men.)

Roberts is retiring from professional paranoia, though he might return to The Alex Jones Show once or twice.

I won’t call Roberts a racist or an anti-Semite, because like all the people he excoriates for sitting on or ignoring the *truth* about his pet topics, Roberts likes to coyly dance around certain issues so that you can’t quite pin him down. While his anti-war views can be appreciated even by liberals, his other views … um, not so much. He has spent the last decade shredding the reputation he spent the other 60+ years building. Kinda sad, but also kinda familiar. I mean, Morley Safer is doing infomercials these days. I guess when you reach an advanced age, you get to be a complete moron and no one will call you on it.

To PCR fans, cheer up: There are plenty more paranoid white guys where he came from.