Within its borders and around the world, New York is known for its contrasts -- urban grid and Adirondack expanse, hard-charging finance and farm life, the very rich and the crushingly poor.
That last divide can be seen once again in U.S. Census data that concludes the Empire State has the highest level of income inequality in the nation. The census employs a statistical tool known as the Gini coefficient, which measures inequality of distribution -- in this case, income.
Taken from 2009 surveys, the findings were recently compiled by the financial website 24/7 Wall Street.
Used by economists and statisticians to measure income inequality, the Gini coefficient is scaled to run from 0 to 1, with 1 being the highest level of inequality.
It starts by taking the pool of money in a given state or nation and creating an imaginary model in which everyone has an equal share, set at 0. That share-and-share-alike model is then plotted against the real distribution of income. (In Census surveys, household income above $200,000 is the highest bracket offered to respondents.)
New York rates a 0.502 on that scale, followed by Connecticut at 0.480 and Texas at 0.474.
This latest sign of the sharp gaps between rich and poor in the state was no surprise to those involved in public policy. "There are lots of people with very high incomes, and lots of people with very low incomes," said Algernon Austin, a sociologist at the Economic Policy Institute, which has done similar studies looking at individual metropolitan areas.
Here are the top two states ranked by the inequality of income:
1. New York
Median income: $50,216 (22nd highest)
Households earning $200,000 or more: 6.15 percent (5th highest)
Population living below poverty line: 14.20 percent (25th highest)
Median income: $63,851 (highest in the U.S.)
Households earning $200,000 or more: 7.87 percent (highest)
Population living below poverty line: 9.40 percent (4th lowest)
Listen, consumerist culture is near collapse. Income disparity is growing, it is the largest it has been since the Gilded Age, the middle class is disappearing, the working class is growing larger and larger, job security has all but disappeared and long-term unemployment is a reality of life for a lot of people.
The oligarchs of our society - including Sarah Palin's favorite socialist, Barack Obama - blame the income inequity, the disappearance of the middle class, and the long-term unemployment problem on public education and teachers.
But that is NOT who and what has caused the problem.
The problem, plain and simple, has been caused by globalization and a capitalist society that privileges the predatory bankers, brokers and hedge fund traders over everybody else.
Until people go and TAKE BACK BY FORCE what the hedge fund criminals are STEALING every day, until people go and FORCE the corporate politicians from Scott Walker to Mitch Daniels to Rick Scott to Little Andy Cuomo to Barack Obama to stop shilling for the top 1%, until people force General Electric to STOP forcing employees to take pay and benefit cuts while it rakes in more money than ever, THIS WILL NOT STOP.
The oligarchs, the bankers, the hedge fund criminals and the politicians they own will NOT stop grabbing more and more until they are AFRAID that if they continue, they will be destroyed.
Power and money does not cede power and money willingly.
It must be forced to do so.
We can start this process by boycotting the industries that promote some of the worst policies.
Start with Brawny, Northern Tissue and other products made by the Koch Brothers.
Move on to General Electric and all the products and services they provide.
Buy less, consume less, spend less, debt less.
As Arlo once said about something else, if one person does this, they'll think you're sick, and if two people do it, they'll think you're a couple, but if a whole bunch of people do it, they'll think it's a movement.
And it can be.
The Anti-Consumerist/Anti-Oligarchy Movement.
In four part harmony, of course.
It's time to take back by force the power that the oligarchs have seized over the last thirty years (and especially the last ten.)
Their oligarchy CANNOT exist if nobody buys the shit they make.