The Perks of Privilege and Poor Losers

The May/June 2006 issue of MotherJones compiled some interesting facts illustrating gross extremes between the Haves and the Have-Nots:

If the $5.15 hourly minimum wage had risen at the same rate as CEO compensation since 1990, it would now stand at $23.03.

A minimum wage employee who works 40 hours a week for 51 weeks a year goes home with $10,506 before taxes.

The $17,530 earned by the average Wal-Mart employee last year was $1,820 below the poverty line for a family of 4.

5 of America’s 10 richest people are Wal-Mart heirs.

A follow-up piece in the July/August 2006 issue of the magazine further illustrates the inequality and disadvantages poor people confront:

51% of the uninsured are $2,000 or more in medical debt. 16% owe at least $10,000.

Inner-city grocery stores sell milk for 43% more than suburban supermarkets.

In Chicago’s poorest areas, the ratio of check-cashing outlets to banks is 10-to-1.

In 2003, the IRS estimated it “protected” $3.1 billion of revenue by cracking down on EITC [Earned Income Tax Credit] filings. Half of all audits are now conducted on taxpayers earning less than $25,000.

The IRS, incidentally, has been involved in an ongoing FOIA-related lawsuit. The agency has resisted public scrutiny of its statistical information. See, for example: