TimmyDee writes: Over the last 30 years, wealth in the United States has been steadily concentrating in the upper economic echelons. Whereas the top 1 percent used to control a little over 30 percent of the wealth, they now control 40 percent. It's a trend that was for decades brushed under the rug but is now on the tops of minds and at the tips of tongues. Since too much inequality can foment revolt and instability, the CIA regularly updates statistics on income distribution for countries around the world, including the U.S. Between 1997 and 2007, inequality in the U.S. grew by almost 10 percent, making it more unequal than Russia, infamous for its powerful oligarchs. The U.S. is not faring well historically, either. Even the Roman Empire, a society built on conquest and slave labor, had a more equitable income distribution.
TimmyDee writes: The rhetoric in Washington, D.C., of late has been rather monotonic. The political landscape seems dominated by the economy, from stimulus bills and consumer protection agencies to tea parties and anti-tax rallies. Yet despite Capitol Hill's singular focus, a new study of congressional speeches suggests the left and the right are separated by a cultural divide rather than different views on the economy. Previous analyses of congressional speeches relied on manually classifying the content, a time-consuming and laborious process. The approach used in the new paper supplants man-hours with processor time, using intelligent computer programs to distill hundreds of hours of transcribed speeches into clarified political ideologies.