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Ed Giron will play Sigmund Freud (above).

Ed Giron will play Sigmund Freud (above).


For Richer or Poorer

How Do I Join?


Thursday, May 2, 2013
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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.

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Comments

Independent Discussion Guidelines

Inequality is, like geography, here to stay. What works is , starting early, spending less than is earned, and investing the difference.

drdan93109 (anonymous profile)
May 3, 2013 at 7:36 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Some get richer, some get poorer, some just observe.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
May 3, 2013 at 7:53 a.m. (Suggest removal)

agreed, and some work themselves into the middle-class, observe, and comment.
93109 are you saying that the 7% Barney mentions are the only ones who 'start early, spend less than they earn, & [wisely] invest the difference' ?? What about older folks who lost some or all of their pension monies in the '08 Great Recession, or who had their homes foreclosed, or got laid off in Detroit and couldn't retrain to find more work??
how many of the 7% are trustee babies or investors with enough money to weather their temporary losses?
some smugly observe the misfortunes of others and in high schadenfreude feel pretty friggin' good about themselves and their privileged class

DrDan (anonymous profile)
May 3, 2013 at 9:09 a.m. (Suggest removal)

what you don't seem to get, 93109, is that the income inequality in the USA has been worsening since about 1970 (earlier than Barney thinks). Look at the charts in Tony Judt's ILL FARES THE LAND. And we should let this increase and grow about it?? Insensitive and ridiculous to scrawl, "Inequality is, like geography", inequality is not like geography.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
May 3, 2013 at 9:26 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Some people spend their lives trying to better their situation, others spend their lives whining about the people that do.

When the economy starts to improve, the whiners complain because their situation doesn't improve as fast as those that work harder at it. When times are improving, they look at irrelevant statistics like GINI coefficeints and complain because the government doesn't care as much about their individual problems as the people that work hard at it care about their own.

Botany (anonymous profile)
May 3, 2013 at 9:53 a.m. (Suggest removal)

You do not need to be in the top 7% to be financially secure.

Live 10% below whatever money you make, put that extra 10% in saving. Never buy a car you can not pay cash for, and never have a balance on your credit card.
When you have saved enough money to put down on a house, makes sure the mortgage payments allow you to keep saving that 10%. Consider getting a boarder if you need some extra help or maybe a duplex instead of a single family home, or maybe go in with a partner on your first purchase.
I find people that are financially secure live their lives without consumer debt and save at least 10%.

loneranger (anonymous profile)
May 3, 2013 at 11:32 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Your advice about living below 10% blah blah blah looks great on paper but not at all realistic in today's economic environment, especially in Santa Barbara where the imbalance is greater.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
May 3, 2013 at 12:57 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Whoops! Barney is quoting stats that exclude social welfare and entitlement benefits. Also, as a greater percentage of American's retire, they fall into retirement income brackets which are lower than non-retired income brackets. All of these things combined reduce the income inequality quoted by Barney by about 68%. So income inequality *is* growing, but by a rate that is only 1/3 as much/fast as Barney writes/complains/whines about.

willy88 (anonymous profile)
May 3, 2013 at 2:52 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Don't forget: We live in an area where the cost of living is hyperinflated so we can't judge our situation by that of other parts of the country.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
May 3, 2013 at 3:02 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I have lived in Santa Barbara all my adult life, and have managers to live 10% below my means at all times except for the brief period I was unemployed.
I have talked to way to many people that believe it is not possible.. but it is,
I had housemates until I was 35, even after getting married at 26. I rode my bike to work until I had children that needed to be taken to daycare/school.
I find most people are not willing to do what it takes to save.

loneranger (anonymous profile)
May 3, 2013 at 8:24 p.m. (Suggest removal)


"Inequality is, like geography, here to stay. What works is , starting early, spending less than is earned, and investing the difference."

drdan93109 (anonymous profile)
May 3, 2013 at 7:36 a.m

But then..."

agreed, and some work themselves into the middle-class, observe, and comment.
93109 are you saying that the 7% Barney mentions are the only ones who 'start early, spend less than they earn, & [wisely] invest the difference' ?? What about older folks who lost some or all of their pension monies in the '08 Great Recession, or who had their homes foreclosed, or got laid off in Detroit and couldn't retrain to find more work??
how many of the 7% are trustee babies or investors with enough money to weather their temporary losses?
some smugly observe the misfortunes of others and in high schadenfreude feel pretty friggin' good about themselves and their privileged class"

DrDan (anonymous profile)
May 3, 2013 at 9:09 a.m.

Will the REAL Doctor Dan please stand up?

billclausen (anonymous profile)
May 4, 2013 at 3:52 a.m. (Suggest removal)

it's easy to distinguish the two handles, BC: I'm DrDan (which began as a joke among my friends) and often add "93101"... drdan93101 is another poster... anyway, as you well know, Bill, the views we espouse are usually far apart, so that's not too dificil, nicht Wahr?

DrDan (anonymous profile)
May 4, 2013 at 5:49 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I quite agree with loneranger when s/he writes, "You do not need to be in the top 7% to be financially secure." But then, so what? Once you move past the top 1 or 2% (or better, the top .001), loneranger, you encompass many many more people, millions more. I have worked steadily all my adult life and saved, these are not complaints about my own lucky and stable situation. Working hard and with a drive for excellence, saving for retirement while still paying for our child's college education (!! too high)), trying to serve in the community a tiny bit.. I am satisfied, and enjoy my lot.
But like KV, yeah, dude, YOU try living in SB at the 10% level (or 60% level and living in LA)!
Sure, Botany writes his usual screed,
"When the economy starts to improve, the whiners complain because their situation doesn't improve as fast as those that work harder."
But most Americans work, and want to work, and the criticism is that Barney's stat ["The richest 20 percent of Americans own 72 percent of the nation’s wealth"] has been getting WORSE. More exaggerated, you know, the old "rich get richer". Duh.
Thus, when we see the lowest one-fifth, bottom 20%, and how they only own 3%... AND, this "poor getting poorer" direction is WORSENING. So, Botany ably explains the cruel dogma of the upper 2 to 5%: "we work harder". Puritan work ethic, what? The financial "Elect" = the elite.
And therefore they believe they "deserve" the increasing wealth, because..well, see, they are better people. More intelligent, harder working, thrifty (loneranger)...
All bogus. It was never a level playing field.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
May 4, 2013 at 6:06 a.m. (Suggest removal)

oops, BC, meant "drdan93109" is another poster

DrDan (anonymous profile)
May 4, 2013 at 6:09 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I don't know what to think any more. Maybe I'M Dr. Dan.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
May 5, 2013 at 5:31 a.m. (Suggest removal)

we're all DrDan, if truth be told... but truth is elusive, nay? See, there's drdan93109 and the this DrDan, actually DrDan93101 and proud of the Westside heritage having lived here since mid '80s.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
May 5, 2013 at 2:45 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Everybody is DrDan except Shirley MacLaine.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
May 5, 2013 at 3:01 p.m. (Suggest removal)

There is a little bit of Dr. Dan in all of us. As for MacLaine, she WAS Dr. Dan...in one of her previous lives.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
May 5, 2013 at 3:27 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Mr. Diane Feinstein, 1%er, just scored another government contract, to line their pockets, nice tag team at the taxpayer expense, I love nepotism. The rich get richer in Washington D.C., yup government pays and pays.

howgreenwasmyvalley (anonymous profile)
May 6, 2013 at 7:01 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Yes, it is a game, yes, it is rigged.

spacey (anonymous profile)
May 9, 2013 at 10:46 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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