Tuesday, January 27, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Dollar Tree shoppers vs. billionaire investors

By
June 07, 2014 |

If it weren’t for The Wall Street Journal, we might never know that 47 percent of the shoppers at Dollar Tree earn $25,000 or less a year while a secretive investor known as The Unicorn in Back Bay Boston makes billions of dollars.

At first glance there may seem to be no connection. In fact, there is no connection whatsoever. It is the glory of the Journal’s “money and investing” section that these two items were placed next to each other on the same page.

One story notes that dollar stores are in heated competition with each other and may be cutting prices below 99 cents. The other touts a hedge fund manager named David Abrams who started a “one-man cash machine” that manages $8 billion and himself has a billion dollars.

Is there anything more we need to know about the economy? Doesn’t that say it all?

There are so many poor people in need of cheap plastic items that Walmart, Target, Dollar General and others are fighting tooth and nail for their patronage. Meanwhile, a 53-year-old who has never spoken at an event open to the public is getting so wealthy the Journal is stunned and eager to find out more. How did a history major triple the returns of the S&P 500 in 15 years and how is it that a jazz fan owns part of the Oakland Raiders?

This column will mention the 1 percent only in passing because they know who they are and we apparently don’t. But as we get closer to the crucial, all-important, vital mid-term elections in November, income inequality is going to smite us in the face every day. The desperate Democrats, who live in mortal dread of losing control of the Senate, are hoping to give up daily updates on the unfair society we live in.

Certainly, we have become aware of the plight of fast food workers who earn an industry average of $9 an hour and no longer can feed and shelter their families without food stamps and other forms of government aid. Democrats hope to capitalize on the fight of food workers for a living wage.

But there are other aspects of the income inequality debate that haven’t gotten as much attention.

It is not true that Americans are as bad off as they were in the 1920 when robber barons controlled most of the wealth. Millions of Americans today have cars, televisions, smartphones and Internet access. The elderly have Social Security, as do the disabled. Even the poorest Americans have 50 percent more after-tax, inflation-adjusted income than they did in 1979. As economist/journalist Robert Samuelson notes, “We have not reverted to the 1920s.”

But we feel worse off than we used to feel, before we began paying huge cell phone and cable TV bills, before we assumed we would have meat on the table every night, before our cars were air conditioned, our children needed after-school care and a short stay in the hospital cost thousands of dollars.

Is it right that the top 1 percent have 13 percent of after-tax income? Of course not. Is that something an election can change? Not a chance. Is it realistic to think government will take away the wealth of the rich? Nope.

But here is where we need a serious, legitimate debate. What can and what should government do to create a better climate for jobs? Privatize Social Security? Give the rich more tax incentives? Deregulate big business? Let big oil and gas and coal companies destroy the environment for short-term gains? Gut food stamp programs? Reduce the numbers of people who qualify for Medicaid and cut funding?

Rightly or wrongly, too many people think that this bleak scenario is what Republicans now stand for, when they are not denouncing President Barack Obama.

Unless they provide new ideas, it may be that we will have another meaningless election that solves nothing and simply reinforces the polarization of our nation.

It may well be that David Abrams and Dollar Tree have nothing in common.

Ann McFeatters is an op-ed columnist for McClatchy-Tribune. Readers may send her email at amcfeatters@nationalpress.com.

Ann McFeatters

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 5 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • BobJune 10, 2014 - 7:33 am

    Does anyone remember when the republicans wanted complete government control and the democrats wanted no government control? That's how it was in the not so distant past, things can change and change rapidly, so get out and vote or sit home and throw your slippers at the tv when you get mad because of who got elected and you didn't vote Shame on you, what would the men who gave their lives so that you COULD vote think about Americans that don't vote?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • boomJune 10, 2014 - 8:54 am

    Does this lady understand the concept of capitalism?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Danny BuntinJune 10, 2014 - 2:13 pm

    She is trying to explain capitalism run a-muck. Left to its own devices, it will destroy itself, and us.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • rlw895June 10, 2014 - 2:47 pm

    Wait a minute. The top 1% only gets 13% of the after tax income? This bears another look.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • rlw895June 10, 2014 - 3:17 pm

    I can't find that reference, but it might be right. Top 1% before tax income has been as high as 20%, but it goes up and down a lot based on unearned income such as stock options and dividends. Then income taxes take a bigger bite out of high income, so the percentage after tax is lower than before tax by maybe 2 percentage points. It's AFTER TAX income that we should really care about. The top 1% at 10% of after tax income would be healthy enough, in my opinion.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Recent Articles

  • Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • .

    Solano News

     
    Health officials report 1st Solano flu death

    By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A3, 5 Comments | Gallery

     
     
     
    American Legion Post schedules head-shaving fundraiser

    By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A6

    Rush Ranch seeks docents

    By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A2

     
    Dramas, thrillers lead week’s box office openings

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B8

    Vacaville Toastmasters welcome guests

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A6

     
    Kroc Health Fair offers free screenings

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

     
    Chipotle fundraiser to benefit Armijo newspaper

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

    Vacaville council eyes earlier start time

    By Ryan McCarthy | From Page:

     
    .

    US / World

    Facebook suffers outage affecting users worldwide

    By The Associated Press | From Page:

     
    Private wells in California farm area show high uranium

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Ex-Army prosecutor found guilty of rape at court-martial

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Law enforcement wants popular police-tracking app disabled

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Gov’t to overhaul Medicare payments to doctors, hospitals

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Cuban youth build secret computer network despite Wi-Fi ban

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

    Seekers of the Hollywood Sign disrupt nearby neighborhood

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2, 1 Comment | Gallery

     
    2 small planes crash-land off Hawaii; all aboard survive

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Report: State worker sent alarming notes before gun arrest

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

     
     
    Dwindling group of survivors to mark Auschwitz 70 years on

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2, 1 Comment | Gallery

    New Jersey’s Christie launches political action committee

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    US drone strikes resume in Yemen despite turmoil

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Monster snowstorm swirls into densely populated Northeast US

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

     
    Kurds celebrate ousting Islamic State fighters from Kobani

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Man takes responsibility for drone over White House

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

     
    .

    Opinion

     
    .

    Living

    Community Calendar: Jan. 27, 2015

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

     
    .

    Entertainment

    Petty earns writing credit for Sam Smith’s ‘Stay With Me’

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

     
    National Cowboy Poetry Gathering begins in northeast Nevada

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    Trainor and Styles write a duet about heartbreak

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

     
    Emma Watson to star in live-action ‘Beauty and the Beast’

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

     
    SAG Awards win sends ‘Birdman’ Oscar hopes soaring

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    Cumberbatch says sorry for calling black actors ‘colored’

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

     
    A murder at the edge of the world takes ‘Fortitude’ to crack

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

    Lawyers: Melissa Rivers files lawsuit in mother Joan’s death

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

     
    Sundance Watch: ‘Cobain’ premieres, women talk Hollywood

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    TVGrid Jan 27

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

     
    .

    Sports

    Manfred knows he’ll get hit as commish _ his name is on ball

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    NASCAR to leave championship format unchanged in 2015

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

     
    Kobe Bryant to have shoulder surgery, likely out for season

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Tim Brown hopes 6th time is charm in Hall of Fame vote

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

     
    Raiders sign Charles Woodson for 2015 season

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

    Rams notify St. Louis they’ll go year-to-year on dome lease

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

     
    Gamecocks still No. 1; Chattanooga joins women’s hoops poll

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

    Scott Dixon shines in masterful final drive in Rolex win

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    LeBron, Cavs climb in standings, back in title conversation

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

    Capitals among East contenders; West race too tight to call

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

     
    Playoff not interested in moving semis of New Year’s Eve

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

    Fireworks help celebrate Venus Williams’ Australian Open run

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

     
    US women to host New Zealand, Ireland, Mexico, South Korea

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

    NBA D-League All-Star events set for Feb. 15 in Brooklyn

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

     
    AP Source: Los Angeles Kings release Mike Richards

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

    Hope Solo could be left off US World Cup roster

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    .

    Business

    Employers: Agreement made on key issue in port labor dispute

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

     
    Lyft cars doing away with pink furry mustache

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B4, 1 Comment

     
    Hard Rock (again) dips toe into Atlantic City casino market

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

    US stock market finishes with small gains

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

     
    IBM disputes report that big layoffs coming

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

    Union says California Kaiser nurses reach contract agreement

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

     
    Boeing, SpaceX will beat Russia on price for astronaut rides

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

    CBO: Deficit to shrink to lowest level of Obama presidency

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

     
    Eurozone looks for dialogue after stunning Greece elections

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

    S&P downgrades Russia credit rating to junk

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Donald Wesley Johnson

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Rose is Rose Jan 27

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Beetle Bailey Jan 27

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Get Fuzzy Jan 27

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    B.C. Jan 27

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Cryptoquote Jan 27

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

     
    For Better or Worse Jan 27

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Dilbert Jan 27

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Bridge Jan 27

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

    Garfield Jan 27

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Crossword Jan 27

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

    Baby Blues Jan 27

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Pickles Jan 27

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Sally Forth Jan 27

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Baldo Jan 27

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Wizard of Id Jan 27

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Word Sleuth Jan 27

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

    Frank and Ernest Jan 27

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Sudoku Jan 27

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

    Blondie Jan 27

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Zits Jan 27

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Peanuts Jan 27

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4