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Opinion: Wage stagnation hurts economy

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Opinion: Wage stagnation hurts economy
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Here’s some cheery news for class warfare enthusiasts: The gulf between the richest 1 percent of the Americans and the rest of the country reached its widest level in history last year.

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USA Today reports the top 1 percent of earners in the U.S. pulled in 19.3 percent of total household income in 2012, which is their biggest slice of total income in more than 100 years.

That’s according to a an analysis by economists at the University of California, Berkeley and the Paris School of Economics at Oxford University.

The very rich haven’t claimed this big a piece of the pie since the Gilded Age in 1927, when the group claimed 18.7 percent. The analysis is based on data from Internal Revenue Service data.

In a separate analysis, USA Today reports the top 1 percent of earnings posted 86 percent real income growth between 1993 and 2000.

Meanwhile, the real income growth of the bottom 99 percent of earnings rose 6.6 percent.

Average middle class income has actually fallen by about 5 percent since the Great Recession.

Beyond the obvious issue of fairness — the people doing the work aren’t fairly sharing in the gains — income inequality hurts economic growth: Stagnant wages are one reason the economy isn’t performing better.

And the situation isn’t good for democracy: Economic power tends to create political power, even in advanced countries like the United States. If living standards don’t pick up, look for political upheaval and a resurgence of unions on the horizon as ordinary Americans get frustrated and angry with the short end of the stick.

The Humane Society and pet lovers everywhere are celebrating the end of a loophole that allowed puppy mills, some with  dreadful conditions, to operate unregulated by selling over the Internet.

This from a blog from Humane Society of the United States CEO Wayne Pacelle:

“Tens of thousands of dogs suffering in substandard, filthy, and overcrowded cages for years on end will finally get the protection they deserve as a result of a rule the U.S. Department of Agriculture will formally adopt today.

“This change, a long-held aspiration for The HSUS, the Humane Society Legislative Fund, and the Doris Day Animal League, is decades in the making and will extend federal oversight to thousands of puppy mills that do business online.

Of the dozens of puppy mills that the Humane Society has assisted in closing helped close down over the past five years, most were selling puppies online and escaping any federal oversight because a loophole in federal Animal Welfare Act regulations exempts Internet sellers.

Because large-scale dog breeders who sell animals to pet stores are regulated, but breeders who sell directly to the public are not, there has been a huge influx of breeders to the Web sales strategy within the last decade or so. If they could sell dogs and escape any federal oversight, why not get in on that act and continue to cut corners on animal care?

Now federal inspectors will be able to peer behind the closed doors of puppy mills and improve the lives of tens of thousands of animals. That’s a change worth celebrating.

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