AN EMBARRASSMENT OF RICHES My favorite columnist is Paul Krugman, of The New York Times. An economist at Princeton by way of Yale and M.I.T., Krugman eviscerates the policies of whoever is in power. He does this by using the sharpest of scalpels: hard economic facts. Krugman operates on the pages of the Times twice a week. He once dissected Bill Clintons policies. Now he does the same to George W. Bush, and its a pleasure to watch. Krugman was recently named Editor & Publishers columnist of the year. In the October 20, 2002 issue of The New York Times Sunday Magazine, Krugman wrote an essay that is must reading for everyone who is sickened by American greed. The essay is called For Richer. Warning: Unless you make more than, say, $2 million a year, his essay will make you angry. If you do make more than $2 million a year, it should make you ashamed. The idea of Krugmans essay is simple: America, he says, has returned to the Gilded Age, when the world was divided between the super-rich, who lived in obscene luxury in their Newport and Long Island mansions, and the average Joes, who lived, well, as best they could. Immediately after the Depression and World War II, says Krugman, this divide between the super-rich and the average Joe narrowed significantly. But today the divide is as great as ever it was during the age of the robber barons. Writes Krugman:
- "Over the past 30 years most people have seen only modest salary increases: the average annual salary in America, expressed in 1998 dollars (that is, adjusted for inflation), rose from $32,522 in 1970 to $35,864 in 1999. Thats about a 10 percent increase over 29 years--progress, but not much. Over the same period, however, according to Fortune magazine, the average real annual compensation of the top 100 C.E.O.s went from $1.3 million--39 times the pay of an average worker--to $37.5 million, more than 1,000 times the pay of ordinary workers."