LUCKY SEVEN: I see where 7 percent of American families got vastly richer as the Great Recession tailed off, while the remaining 93 percent of us got shafted.
The Upper Seven’s net worth leaped by 28 percent while the rest of us dropped by 4 percent. What I want to know is how to join the Upper Seven before the Lower 93 percent of families are dead broke.
Is it a club you’re born into? Actually, income inequality has been growing for 30 years or so, the have-not-so-much getting an ever-smaller piece of the pie. But the recession really shocked a lot of economists.
Between 2009 and 2011, the bull stock market went on steroids, which was great for those in the market, while housing values took a nosedive — bad for people whose assets were chiefly in their home, not in stocks.
Savvy people buy homes at the bottom of the market and watch them rise. I bought mine at the top of the market in 2008, and it promptly plummeted in value like the proverbial lead balloon. Times are still tough. In the Santa Barbara area alone, I just counted 95 homes in foreclosure, certainly heartbreak at many a door. But prices are rising, so I hope my place never sinks to the price I paid for my first house in Goleta in 1960: $16,900. It was a struggle to meet the monthly mortgage payments, but it all seems like chump change now.
What’s behind all this, besides the recession? “Income inequality has been growing over the past 30 years, thanks to skyrocketing executive pay, stagnating pay for workers, the growth in low-wage jobs, and a tax code that often benefits the well-off,” according to thinkprogress.org.
The richest 20 percent of Americans own 72 percent of the nation’s wealth, due to their stock holdings, while the poorest 20 percent only own 3 percent of the wealth, according to Forbes staffer Robert Lenzner.
So how do I jump from the Lower 93 to the Upper Seven? Apparently by becoming an obscenely overpaid CEO. (I could “earn” an MBA on the Internet in a week with no exams, books to study, or classes to attend, and be on my way.)
NOT SO FUNNY MONEY: I’m hearing lots of complaints about the changeover from good old Santa Barbara Bank & Trust to Union Bank. People are seeing red. (Did they have to change the phone number for checking our balances and other stuff?)
FREUD’S LAST SESSION: Ed Giron fearlessly took the Plaza Playhouse Theater stage in Carpinteria last weekend as the famed psychoanalyst to debate British author C.S. Lewis. (God and all that.) Excellent theater. In reality, they never met, but who cares? It’s back onstage May 2-5.
SPAMALOT: I split my seams taking in the madcap madness of Santa Barbara High School’s version of Monty Python’s Spamalot. It’s sheer delight even if you’re not a Python fan, and is onstage May 2-4 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, May 5, at 2 p.m. Cheers for director Otto Layman.
BECKY’ S NEW CAR: I was pulling for Becky Foster (Leslie Gangl Howe) all the way as she tackled life and love in Steven Dietz’s romantic comedy staged by The Theatre Group at Santa Barbara City College — great fun. It shows through May 11 at the Jurkowitz Theatre. Katie Laris directs.
PURE ARTISTRY: Violinist Jennifer Koh stood on the bare stage at the Music Academy’s Hahn Hall, without accompaniment, and delivered a brilliant, passionate rendering of J.S. Bach’s Sonata No. 1 in G Minor and Partita No. 1 in B Minor on Wednesday, April 24. “Having grown up in a time when people were declaring classical music to be a dead art form,” 36-year-old Koh has written, she had something to prove. And she did. (Thanks to UCSB’s Arts & Lectures.)
ALL-STARS IN S.B.: And, thanks to CAMA (Community Arts Music Association), some of the top classical music stars are headed to the Granada Theatre. Legendary violinist Itzhak Perlman is due September 19; famed conductor-violinist Pinchas Zukerman and the Royal Philharmonic are due January 21, 2014; pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet will visit February 17, 2014, with Brazil’s Bahai Youth Symphony Orchestra; violinist/conductor Joshua Bell returns with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields on March 21, 2014; and boy-oh-boy wonder Gustavo Dudamel returns May 4, 2014, with the L.A. Philharmonic and pianist Emanuel Ax.