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Censored 2005: The Top 25 Censored Media Stories of 2003-2004

Project Censored

here is #1:   Wealth Inequality in 21st Century Threatens Economy and Democracy

MULTINATIONAL MONITOR, May 2003, Vol. 24, No. 5
Title: "The Wealth Divide" (An interview with Edward Wolff)
Author: Robert Weissman

BUZZFLASH, March 26 and 29, 2004
Title: "A Buzzflash Interview, Parts I & II" (with David Cay Johnston)
Author: Buzzflash Staff

LONDON GUARDIAN, October 4, 2003
Title: "Every third person will be a slum dweller within 30 years, UN 
agency warns"
Author: John Vidal

Title: "Grotesque Inequality"
Author: Robert Weissman

Faculty Evaluators: Greg Storino, Phil Beard Ph.D.
Student Researchers: Caitlyn Pardue, David Sonnenberg, Sita Khalsa


In the late 1700s, issues of fairness and equality were topics of 
great debate - equality under the law, equality of opportunity, etc. 
Considered by the framers of the Constitution to be one of the most 
important aspects of a democratic system, the word "equality" is 
featured prominently throughout the document. In the 200+ years 
since, most industrialized nations have succeeded in decreasing the 
gap between rich and poor.

However, since the late 1970s wealth inequality, while stabilizing or 
increasing slightly in other industrialized nations, has increased 
sharply and dramatically in the United States. While it is no secret 
that such a trend is taking place, it is rare to see a TV news 
program announce that the top 1% of the U.S. population now owns 
about a third of the wealth in the country. Discussion of this trend 
takes place, for the most part, behind closed doors.

During the short boom of the late 1990s, conservative analysts 
asserted that, yes, the gap between rich and poor was growing, but 
that incomes for the poor were still increasing over previous levels. 
Today most economists, regardless of their political persuasion, 
agree that the data over the last 25 to 30 years is unequivocal. The 
top 5% is capturing an increasingly greater portion of the pie while 
the bottom 95% is clearly losing ground, and the highly touted 
American middle class is fast disappearing.

According to economic journalist, David Cay Johnston, author of 
"Perfectly Legal," this trend is not the result of some naturally 
occurring, social Darwinist "survival of the fittest." It is the 
product of legislative policies carefully crafted and lobbied for by 
corporations and the super-rich over the past 25 years.

New tax shelters in the 1980s shifted the tax burden off capital and 
onto labor. As tax shelters rose, the amount of federal revenue 
coming from corporations fell (from 35% during the Eisenhower years 
to 10% in 2002). During the deregulation wave of the '80s and the 
'90s, members of Congress passed legislation (often without reading 
it) that deregulated much of the financial industry. These laws took 
away, for example, the powerful incentives for accountants to behave 
with integrity or for companies to put away a reasonable amount in 
pension plans for their employees-resulting in the well-publicized 
(too late) scandals involving Enron, Global Crossing, and others.


As always, America's economic trends have a global footprint-and this 
time, it is a crater. Today the top 400 income earners in the U.S. 
make as much in a year as the entire population of the 20 poorest 
countries in Africa (over 300 million people). But in America, 
national leaders and mainstream media tell us that the only way out 
of our own economic hole is through increasing and endless 
growth-fueled by the resources of other countries.

A series of reports released in 2003 by the UN and other global 
economy analysis groups warn that further increases in the imbalance 
in wealth throughout the world will have catastrophic effects if left 
unchecked. UN-habitat reports that unless governments work to control 
the current unprecedented spread in urban growth, a third of the 
world's population will be slum dwellers within 30 years. Currently, 
almost one-sixth of the world's population lives in slum-like 
conditions. The UN warns that unplanned, unsanitary settlements 
threaten both political and fiscal stability within third world 
countries, where urban slums are growing faster than expected. The 
balance of poverty is shifting quickly from rural to urban areas as 
the world's population moves from the countryside to the city.

As rich countries, strip poorer countries of their natural resources 
in an attempt to re-stabilize their own, the people of poor countries 
become increasingly desperate. This deteriorating situation, besides 
pressuring rich countries to allow increased immigration, further 
exacerbates already stretched political tensions and threatens global 
political and economic security.

UN economists blame "free-trade" practices and the neo-liberal 
policies of international lending institutions like the IMF and WTO, 
and the industrialized countries that lead them, for much of the 
damage caused to Third World countries over the past 20 years. Many 
of these policies are now being implemented in the U.S., allowing for 
an acceleration of wealth consolidation. And even the IMF has issued 
a report warning the U.S. about the consequences for its appetite for 
excess and overspending.

In developing countries, the concentration of key industries 
profitable to foreign investors requires that people move to cities 
while forced privatization of public services strip them of the 
ability to become stable or move up financially once they arrive. 
Meanwhile, the strict repayment schedules mandated by the global 
institutions make it virtually impossible for poor countries to move 
out from under their burden of debt. "In a form of colonialisation 
that is probably more stringent than the original, many developing 
countries have become suppliers of raw commodities to the world, and 
fall further and further behind," says one UN analyst. World 
economists conclude that if enough of the world's nations reach a 
point of economic failure, such a situation could collapse the entire 
global economy.

For further information on this story, please check out the following 
excellent websites:,12271,1118425,00.html
David Cay Johnston interview also found on Democracy Now!, May 18, 2004.

Censored 2005: The Top 25 Censored Media Stories of 2003-2004

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