Sunday, December 21, 2014
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
.

Solano News

Shining bright for all to see: Locals deck out yards, homes

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: C1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
The Salvation Army serves 1,000-plus across 2 days

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A1, 6 Comments | Gallery

Blue Christmas service offers reflection, hope

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1

 
Time for annual Solano County quiz

By Brad Stanhope | From Page: A2

State Fair scholarship applications available

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

 
Bevy of holiday activities at Western Railway Museum

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Get tested, know your status

By Morgan Westfall | From Page: C4

 
 
New development fees start Jan. 1 in Vacaville

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A5

Free New Year’s celebration slated

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A5

 
A word of warning for Senator Warren

By Bud Stevenson | From Page: B7, 8 Comments

 
New technology chief will join McNaughton Newspapers

By Tanya Perez | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Fairfield police log: Dec. 19, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

Suisun City police log: Dec. 19, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

 
Sky-high price has VA rationing hep C drug

By Tom Philpott | From Page: B10

.

US / World

Air Force admits nuke flaws, but will fixes work?

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
 
Officials: Missing dog was dyed to deceive

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Immigrants build document trails to remain in US

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

California officer kills teen after machete attack

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

 
4 teens die in fiery head-on crash in Pennsylvania

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

2 dozen injured in southern Indiana bus crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Texas ranchers seeking alternative incomes

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7, 1 Comment

 
North Korea proposes joint probe over Sony hacking

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

2 car bombs rock southern Sweden’s city of Malmo

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Bombings kill 12 in Iraq

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

US sends 4 Afghans back home from Guantanamo

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Panama’s Noriega in prison 25 years post-invasion

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Burying the dead after Pakistan’s school massacre

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
A chance to breach divide for young in Cuba and US

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

.

Opinion

Editorial Cartoon: Dec. 21, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

 
New school finance strategy lacks accountability

By Dan Walters | From Page: A8

Season’s greetings from the Obamas

By Alexandra Petri | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

 
Sound off for Dec. 21, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

 
.

Living

Today in History: Dec. 21, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2, 4 Comments

 
Why celebrate Christmas?

By Noel Reese | From Page: C3, 2 Comments

Vatican offers olive branch to US nuns

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3, 1 Comment

 
Horoscopes: Dec. 21, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: C4

Should I ask grandson why we weren’t included in wedding photos?

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: C4

 
.

Entertainment

Review: ‘Five’ by Ursula Archer is intriguing

By The Associated Press | From Page: C6

 
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST-SELLERS

By The Associated Press | From Page: C6

Publisher hopes to sell books through Twitter

By The Associated Press | From Page: C6

 
Chris Colfer has multi-book deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: C6

Jerry Lee Lewis: Sustained by brief blaze of glory

By The Associated Press | From Page: C6

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

.

Sports

Interim coaching jobs present challenges in bowls

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
49ers squander 21-point lead in 4th straight loss

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

New Giants 3B McGehee eager to play back home

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Eagles near elimination, fall 27-24 to Redskins

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Raiders place cornerback Brown on injured reserve

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
No. 11 Lady Vols trounce No. 7 Stanford 59-40

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Big moves bring big hope for Chicago baseball

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
US skier Nyman wins Gardena downhill for 3rd time

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Vonn wins women’s World Cup downhill in France

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
This date in sports history for Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
.

Business

Your info has been hacked. Now what do you do?

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
On the money: 4 ways to hold on to your cash when renting a car

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Recalls this week: Bean bag chairs, toy monkeys

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Scarecrows outnumber people in dying Japan town

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

.

Obituaries

Barbara Jean Bidstrup Braker

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Perry Michael Smetts

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Luzdivina B. Banks

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Arnold Howard Evans

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

Anthony Hanson Elder

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Marian Kay Zutz

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Bart Ferro

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Dominic C. Scolaro

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics