Friday, August 31, 2007

America: 47 million without health insurance, 270 million firearms, 2.2 million incarcerated, CEOs paid $10.8 million, 364 times more than workers

The U.S. Census Bureau reported this week that the number of people without health insurance coverage rose from 44.8 million (15.3 percent) in 2005 to 47 million (15.8 percent) in 2006. The number of uninsured children increased from 8 million (10.9 percent) in 2005 to 8.7 million (11.7 percent) in 2006.

Meanwhile, the nation’s official poverty rate declined for the first time this decade, from 12.6 percent in 2005 to 12.3 percent in 2006. There were 36.5 million people in poverty in 2006, not statistically different from 2005. About 9.8 percent (7.7 million) of the nation’s families were in poverty in 2006.

These unsettling findings are contained in the Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2006 report released August 28, 2007.

A new report from the Institute for Policy Studies and United for a Fair Economy shows that CEOs of large U.S. companies last year averaged $10.8 million in total compensation, over 364 times the pay of the average U.S. worker, a calculation based on data from an Associated Press survey of 386 Fortune 500 companies.

The August 29, 2007, UFE news release noted “Workers on the bottom rung of the economy have just received their first federal minimum wage increase in a decade. But the inflation-adjusted value of the new minimum, despite the hike, stands 7 percent below the minimum wage level a decade ago. CEO pay, in that decade, has increased over inflation by roughly 45 percent.”

“The CEO-worker pay gap is finally getting some high-profile attention from Presidential candidates,” says report co-author Sarah Anderson of the Institute for Policy Studies. “But lawmakers still aren’t doing nearly enough to tackle the gap.”

Authored by Sarah Anderson, John Cavanagh, Chuck Collins, Sam Pizzigati, and Mike Lapham, Executive Excess 2007 is the 14th annual CEO pay study by the Institute for Policy Studies and United for a Fair Economy.

The Institute for Policy Studies is an independent center for progressive research and education in Washington, D.C. United for a Fair Economy is a national organization based in Boston that spotlights growing economic inequality.

The Small Arms Survey 2007 shows that America’s love of firearms continues unabated. The findings include:
– Civilians own approximately 650 million of the total 875 million combined civilian, law enforcement, and military firearms in the world today. US citizens alone own some 270 million of these, which translates into roughly 90 firearms for every 100 people. Canada, by comparison, has 31.

– There is roughly one firearm for every seven people worldwide. Without the United States, though, this drops to about one firearm per ten people.

– With fewer than five per cent of the world’s population, the United States is home to roughly 35–50 per cent of the world’s civilian-owned guns. Other leading gun-owning societies tend to be large, such as China and India; wealthy, such as Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and England and Wales; or have a recent history of intense violent conflict, such as Angola and Colombia, whose civilian firearms holdings are among the largest in the world.
“Firearms are very unevenly distributed around the world. The image we have of certain regions such as Africa or Latin America being awash with weapons -- these images are certainly misleading,” Small Arms Survey director Keith Krause said.

“Weapons ownership may be correlated with rising levels of wealth, and that means we need to think about future demand in parts of the world where economic growth is giving people larger disposable income,” he told a Geneva news conference. [Reuters, Aug. 28, 2007]

The Small Arms Survey is an independent research project located at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, Switzerland. Established in 1999, the project is supported by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, and by sustained contributions from the governments of Belgium, Canada, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

The U.S. not only leads the world in firearms possession it also holds the record for incarcerating people.

On June 27, 2007, the U.S. Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reported during the 12 months that ended June 30, 2006, the nation’s prison and jail populations increased by 62,037 inmates (up 2.8 percent), to total 2,245,189 inmates. State and federal inmates accounted for 70 percent of the increase. At midyear 2006, two-thirds of the nation’s incarcerated population was in custody in a state or federal prison (1,479,179), and the other one-third was held in local jails (766,010).

Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2006 (June 2007) reported:
“At midyear 2006 more black men (836,800) were in custody in State or Federal prison or local jail than white men (718,100) or Hispanic men (426,900). Black men comprised 41% of the more than 2 million men in custody, and black men age 20 to 29 comprised 15.5% of all men in custody on June 30, 2006.

“Relative to their numbers in the general population, about 4.8% of all black men were in custody at midyear 2006, compared to about 0.7% of white men and 1.9% of Hispanic men. Overall, black men were incarcerated at 6.5 times the rate of white men. The incarceration rate for black men was highest among black men age 25 to 29. About 11.7% of black males in this age group were incarcerated on June 30, 2006. Across age groups black men were between 5.7 and 8.5 times more likely than white men to be incarcerated.

“Among female offenders, more white women (95,300) than black women (68,800) or Hispanic women (32,400) were in custody. White women comprised 47% of the female population in custody at midyear 2006.

“In general females had a lower incarceration rate than males. White females had a lower incarceration rate (94 per 100,000 white women) than black females (358 per 100,000 black women) and Hispanic females (152 per 100,000 Hispanic women). The overall incarceration rate for black women was 3.8 times the rate for white women. Hispanic women were 1.6 times more likely than white women to be incarcerated. Across age groups black women were incarcerated between 2.8 and 4.3 times the rate of white women.”
According to the International Centre for Prison Studies (ICPS) the Top Ten prison population totals in the world are:

1) United States of America 2,245,189
2) China 1,565,771
3) Russian Federation 889,598
4) Brazil 419,551
5) India 332,112
6) Mexico 216,290
7) Thailand 161,844
8) Ukraine 160,046
9) South Africa 159,961
10) Iran 150,321

Canada currently ranks 44th with 34,244.

The ICPS was established in the School of Law, King’s College, University of London, United Kingdom in April 1997. According to its website it “seeks to assist governments and other relevant agencies to develop appropriate policies on prisons and the use of imprisonment. It carries out its work on a project or consultancy basis for international agencies, governmental and non-governmental organisations.”


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