I recently took the Acela train from Connecticut to Baltimore for a work conference and was pleasantly surprised by how easy train travel is compared with flying. These days trudging through airports, waiting in security lines, and putting up with inevitable flight delays is anything but fun! Due to work I was only able to shoot in the evening, which is one of the best times to photograph. It had been about eight years since I had last been in Baltimore, and the harbor area was far more enchanting than I had remembered. I walked the full circumference of the downtown harbor, ending up at Federal Hill Park. It is not a challenging walk, but I am always amazed how time flies when I am in the flow of picture taking. It really is an altered state, and once I finally arrive back at my hotel, part of me wonders just exactly how it was that I walked for so long!
THE INCREASING INCOME DISPARITY IN THE US
Have you ever heard of Emmanuel Saez? He is an economist at UC Berkeley best known for his research on income disparities in the US. His work was used by the We are the 99 Percent movement to educate citizens about income disparities. He recently published a paper titled Striking it Richer: The Evolution of Top Incomes in the United States (9/3/13) where he detailed what has happened in the past few years following the last Great Depression. He says from 2009 to 2012 average real income per family grew 6.0%, suggesting we are on the road to recovery. But wait! He goes on to add:
However, the gains were very uneven. Top 1% incomes grew by 31.4% while bottom 99% incomes grew only .4% from 2009 to 2012. Hence, the top 1% captured 95% of the income gains in the first three years of the recovery. In sum, top 1% incomes are close to full recovery while bottom 99% incomes have hardly started to recovery.
Life is not all about how much you make, but income does play a significant role in lifestyle, a topic of great interest to me! The analysis by Saez helps me understand why I still see so many struggling today, and why 15% of youth are not in school and unemployed.